A study published recently in the journal Science has found that the population of breeding birds in the US and Canada has dropped by nearly 30% (or 3 billion birds) since 1970. The study is a collaboration between avian and conservation scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has released several resources on "7 Simple Actions to Help Birds" shown below:
1. Making Windows Safer. Help birds avoid window strikes.
2. Keep Cats Indoors. This is the #1 human-caused reason for the loss of birds, aside from habitat loss.
3. Plant natives and pollinator plants that provide the nectar, seeds, fruits and insects that sustain our local and migratory birds.
4. Drink Bird-Friendly Coffee. Three-quarters of the world’s coffee farms grow their plants in the sun, destroying forests that birds and wildlife need.
5. Watch Birds! Citizen Science Projects like Cornell’s the Great Backyard Bird Count and Project FeederWatch offer opportunities for bird watching in millions of backyards across North America. This information is crucial to help scientists track long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. To participate in a Citizen Science Project visit www.feederwatch.org
6. Avoid Pesticides. Neonicotinoids are lethal to birds and the insects they consume.
7. Plastics. Use recycled plastic products, including bird feeders made of recycled plastic.
While there are some discouraging findings about overall bird populations in the study, there are encouraging examples of how galvanized human effort can work to bring back our birds. You can indeed make a difference. Happy Bird Feeding!
Kathy and her husband, John, own and operate the Wild Birds Unlimited, located at 111 S. 24th Street. Billings and at www.wbu.com/billings. She is a master naturalist and a Certified Bird Feeding Specialist.