Easy Ways to Make Your Yard a Popular Bed-and-Breakfast for Neighborhood Birds
Birds continue to help us measure the health of the air, land and water we share. Dwindling bird populations warn of the dangers from oil spills, chemical pollution of the air, soil and water, depleted fish stocks and poor land use decisions. If their environments can no longer meet the needs of our avian friends, what lays ahead for other wildlife—and for us bipeds? The picture is bleak.
There are easy and inexpensive ways all of us—including our children and grandchildren—can help reverse these declines, so that someday we don’t have to talk about chirping birds in the same way we talk about T Rex.
1. Buy or make a birdfeeder and place it where you can watch as the birds discover it and tell their friends about it, returning day after day to feast on sunflower seeds, thistle, suet, millet and other avian haute cuisine.
2. Buy or build a proper birdhouse (birds aren’t as crazy about a cute little feeder from the gift shop as you might be). It might take some time before they discover it, but once they move in, they’ll become part of your family.
3. Keep a bird bath filled with fresh water, and have fun observing their personal hygiene habits. If you live in a climate where outside temps can drop below freezing, purchase a birdbath heater to make your accomodations worthy of five stars (word gets around).
4. If there aren’t evergreen shrubs and trees in your yard, throw your Christmas tree out in your yard instead of dragging it to the curb.
5. Plant species of plants and shrubs native to your area whenever you can. Birds need the food—berries and nuts—shelter, and nesting sites these plants offer.
6. Plant flowers if you have enough sunshine. Butterflies, bees and dragon flies will drop in and help with pollination, which keeps your special sanctuary’s life cycle going.
7. Support area organizations that work to restore and maintain woodland, wetland and prairie habitats. They need both volunteers and donors. The Audubon Society directs attention to the threats natural systems face, advocates protection of these systems, and acquires land to restore and preserve native habitats. There may be an Audubon chapter in your area. The Sierra Club, Ducks Unlimited or Nature Conservancy groups—among many others—are deserving of our support as well.
8. Speak out for wildlife whenever area land-use decisions are in the works.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is, however, a fun, educational and low-cost start, promising year-round beauty and entertainment. And no steps forward are ever too small for our perhaps-soon-to-be homeless birds, bees and butterflies.