Bird Watching

Wild About Utah: Ripple Effects

Birdwatching is a fun hobby for all ages and it’s a great way to connect with nature and increase self-efficacy, so let’s discuss the benefits and importance of a safe environment to feed our backyard birds. First, the benefits of complementary feeding, and second, preventable cat deaths and window collisions.

Supplemental food and water are important ways to reduce backyard bird stress, especially during the winter months. Sites with feeders attract more birds over time than those without feeders, and birds are healthier overall than birds at sites without feeders. A higher percentage of chicks hatch at sites with bird feeders and survival rates are significantly higher, but supplemental feeding should be done in a safe environment.

Loose domestic cats and collisions with windows are the leading causes of bird mortality in North America. The American Bird Conservancy estimates that outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds each year in the United States alone. About 1 billion birds die each year from collisions with windows in North America – that’s about 10% of our birds that die from crashing into windows, and combined that’s over 4 billion fewer insect eaters, fewer pollinators, fewer seed spreaders and fewer parents. for the next generation.

Cats should be kept indoors and windows should be treated, especially if they reflect trees and shrubs. If you’ve seen a ghostly bird’s footprint or heard the thud of a bird knocking on your windows, then those are windows that need treatments such as screens, translucent UV tape, or even hand-paint patterns. distemper, as even birds that manage to fly away have life-threatening internal injuries. Feeders less than three feet away don’t allow birds to increase their speed before they collide, so it’s a good idea to place feeders and birdbaths three feet or closer to a window or over 30 feet.

Feeders placed on or near windows have the added benefit of being easy to access and monitor. Besides a window suet feeder, one of my favorite window feeders is actually a clear plastic suction cup toothbrush cup holder from the dollar store – it’s easy to clean and it doesn’t. you don’t need binoculars!

In addition to enhancing a backyard birding hobby and improving bird health and survival, the ripple effects of feeding birds, keeping cats indoors and Window collision prevention includes pest control in our gardens where birds feast on slugs, snails, aphids and grasshoppers. For my part, I particularly appreciate the Black-billed Magpies when they remove wasp nests from my house!

The Bridgerland Audubon website has tools, coloring pages, checklists, and science-based information on preventing window collisions. Solutions can be as simple as carefully placing bird feeders and keeping cats inside. Find us on bridgerlandaudubon.org.