Ways to help backyard birds
The next best thing to seeing and enjoying birds in Solano’s open spaces is to watch them in our own yards and neighborhoods. But it isn’t just about birdwatching. Whether birds are near or far they are in trouble, and we have some suggestions on how to help!
According to a study, we have lost more than one-quarter of the entire bird population in North America since 1970, with grassland birds and insect-eating birds like swallows and swifts among the hardest hit.
Shelter and safety:
• Like us, birds like protection from the elements and predators. The best way to provide that is by providing structure with shrubs and trees.
• Install a bird box. This site is great for learning about bird box types and which ones are appropriate for your area.
• Keep your cats indoors and keep feeders away from a predator’s reach. If domestic or feral cats frequent your yard, it is best not to attract birds.
• If you have a backyard, you can provide a birdbath where your avian visitors can bathe and drink. (Just make sure to keep it away from foliage and anything within pouncing distance of predators!)
• Here are ten tips for attracting birds with water.
• Maureen Geiger, another local birder says, “Water in my opinion is the single most attractive thing you can offer in your yard. People who want to do nothing else can put up a shallow, gently sloping birdbath and contribute to the health of local and migrating birds, or create a simple waterfall, the sound of which will attract birds from some distance.”
• The best way to provide food is to plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers.
• Hang a bird feeder. There are many different types of feeders and feed, so do your homework.
• We are what we eat, and birds are no different. Learn here about the best feed to give them and what is not recommended.
• There is some controversy about whether or not feeders are good for birds. Do the research so you can decide for yourself.
If these approaches don’t work for you but you still want to watch birds at feeders, you can join the thousands of people who are addicted to Cornell Lab’s FeederWatch cams.
And there’s more you can do! The Cornell Lab of Ornithology suggests 10 other ways to help birds.
We may be staying away from our beloved wild spaces for now, but by bringing nature into your yard, and supporting local avian populations, you can see the magic of the outdoors right from your window.
Photos by Michael Gene Stewart (top) and Tom Muehleisen (bottom).