Guide to Protecting Birds in Your Own Yard
Protecting birds can be a very rewarding experience. What may seem like a few small gestures to us humans can have a profound impact on the lives of countless birds. Protecting birds in your neighborhood is only part of what your efforts will go towards; many migrating birds may also receive a positive influence by your attempts to provide protection and food. The following sections explain a few easy ideas for ways that you can offer extra protection to the birds in your yard. Many of these ideas are excellent projects for children, too!
Protecting Birds from Predators
Although it isn’t possible to protect local birds from all threats, it is possible to help provide a safe place for birds to rest in your yard where cats, large birds of prey, and other predators cannot reach them. This is not only a great option for birds that visit your yard regularly, it can also be extremely helpful for birds who need a rest during a long-haul migration. The best option is to erect a bird house. While the traditional place to hang a bird house is from the branch of a tree, this could actually be dangerous for visiting birds. The tree allows cats and other animals to gain direct access to the bird house. Granted, if the access hole to the bird house may be small, but cats can easily stick a paw inside the hole and terrify and/or maim the bird inside. The bird house may also get knocked down from the tree with a bird inside.
The safest option is to erect a bird house on a metal pole or on top of a length of PVC piping. A slippery material will ensure that dangerous animals cannot climb the pole in order to reach the bird within. The bird house does not necessarily need to provide direct access to food but it would be a good idea to place the house close to a bird feeder or bath so the bird has easy access to these items. Gardens with shrubbery or dense plants can also serve as shelter for local or migrating birds. Growing these items in your yard will not only make the landscape look fuller but it will also serve as a great hiding spot for birds.
Providing Year-Round Access to Food
Bird food can sometimes be scarce, especially during parts of the year when natural food sources prove to be unproductive. Winter and a drought-plagued summer are especially difficult times for birds to find plentiful sources of food. Bird feeders should be hung in places that will prove safest for visiting birds. As tempting as it might be to place a bird feeder near a window so you might catch a peek at the birds while they eat, this could result in unnecessary injuries to birds who attempt to fly through the window. Unfortunately, birds do not have the ability to detect planes of glass and are often injured by attempting to fly through what they believe to be an opening. It is also a good idea to ensure that the bird feeder is not hung in a place where cats, dogs, and other animals might be able to reach the birds while they eat or rest.
Bird seed mixtures can differ depending on what types of birds are being fed. Keep an eye out for mixtures targeted towards local bird species. Black oil sunflower seeds are great for virtually all seed-eating birds because they have a thin shell that is very easy to crack and the seed contained within is high in fat. Shelled sunflower seeds are a great alternative. Peanuts are also favored by many species of bird, however nuts are also squirrel attractants. Of course, one may also hang nectar feeders to attract birds that favor this type of food, such as humming birds and orioles. One might also consider planting fruit or berry producing plants in the garden.
Preventing Birds from Flying into Windows
As mentioned earlier, birds cannot detect the presence of glass in a window fixture and are often prone to flying right into the glass. The amount of damage incurred by this type of injury can range from a momentary stun to death. If you have ever found a dead bird on the ground near a window in your house or car then it is very likely that the bird flew directly into the glass. There are some tricks that can be utilized to discourage birds from flying into windows. A cheap and easy way to alert birds to the presence of a window is to place vertical tape strips about four inches apart on the glass. Decorative window gel clings can also help to prevent birds from flying into a window, plus they also provide a decorative touch to the window. In order to be truly effective, the gel clings should be spaced no more than four inches apart horizontally and two inches vertically. Blinds and patterned curtains can also be used in protecting birds from window-related injuries or death.
Providing Drinking and Bathing Water
Clean water for drinking and bathing is another basic necessity that local and migrating birds will appreciate. In the winter, especially in regions where natural bodies of water remain frozen for long periods of time, it can be difficult for birds to find a clean pool to bathe in and drink from. A heated bird bath is an excellent solution. As long as the water is changed out regularly, birds will be able to rely on the fixture as a trusted source of water.