In less than a single lifetime, North America has lost more than one in four of its birds, according to a report in the world’s leading scientific journal. Published in Science by researchers at seven institutions, the findings show that 2.9 billion breeding adult birds have been lost since 1970, including birds in every ecosystem.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, American Bird Conservancy, Smithsonian, and numerous others have teamed up to inspire action and help protect birds through the #bringbirdsback campaign. You can learn more at 3billionbirds.org.
Below you will find 7 simple actions to help birds and what Golden Eagle Audubon Society is doing locally to help! We hope you join us the effort to #bringbirdsback!
1. MAKE WINDOWS SAFER, DAY AND NIGHT
1 billion birds are estimated to die each year after hitting windows in the United States and Canada. By day, birds perceive reflections in glass as habitat they can fly into. By night, migratory birds drawn in by city lights are at high risk of colliding with buildings.
How GEAS is helping: We work hard to educate others on the importance of bird-safe windows! Our Stop the Thunk campaign is an effort to bring awareness to bird window collisions and advocate for bird-safe glass. We have advocated for bird-safe windows in the construction of the new downtown library, educated our community on simple ways to reduce bird collisions, and provided resources to businesses and home owners.
How you can help: On the outside of the window, install screens or break up reflections—using film, paint, or Acopian BirdSavers or other string spaced no more than two inches high or two inches wide. (source). Check out some simple ways to make your home more bird-friendly.
2. REDUCE LAWN, PLANT NATIVES
Birds have fewer places to safely rest during migration and to raise their young: More than 10 million acres of land in the United States were converted to developed land from 1982 to 1997 (source).
How GEAS is helping: Through the Native Plant Network, GEAS volunteers have worked to restore quality bird habitat by growing and planting native plants in Important Bird Areas and public lands across the Treasure Valley. Since 2017, we have worked with hundreds of citizen conservationist volunteers to plant over 15,000 native plants! Learn more about the Native Plant Network and how you can get involved here.
How you can help: Add native plants and watch birds come in. Native plants add interest and beauty to your yard and neighborhood, and provide shelter and nesting areas for birds. The nectar, seeds, berries, and insects will sustain birds and diverse wildlife. Find out which native plants are best for your area.
3. DRINK COFFEE THAT’S GOOD FOR BIRDS
Three-quarters of the world’s coffee farms grow their plants in the sun (source), destroying forests that birds and other wildlife need for food and shelter. Sun-grown coffee also often requires using environmentally harmful pesticides and fertilizers. On the other hand, shade-grown coffee preserves a forest canopy that helps migratory birds survive the winter.
How GEAS is helping: GEAS partners with Birds and Beans—a Smithsonian Certified Bird-Friendly brand—to offer a special rate on their coffee! If you would like to have bird-friendly coffee at whole sale prices make sure to join our coffee club. Learn more and order yours today!
How you can help: Insist on shade-grown coffee that’s good for birds: It’s a win-win-win: it’s delicious, economically beneficial to coffee farmers, and helps more than 42 species of North American migratory songbirds that winter in coffee plantations, including orioles, warblers, and thrushes. Purchase your coffee today through Golden Eagle Audubon Society's Coffee Club!
4. PROTECT OUR PLANET FROM PLASTICS
It’s estimated that 4,900 million metric tons of plastic have accumulated in landfills and in our environment worldwide (source), polluting our oceans and harming wildlife such as seabirds, whales, and turtles that mistakenly eat plastic, or become entangled in it.
How GEAS is helping: Hundreds of kids and adults have taken our 'migratory bird plastics pledge' to reduce plastic use this year! Learn more about easy ways to reduce your plastics use here.
How you can help: Reduce your use of plastics. Avoid single-use plastics including bags, bottles, wraps, and disposable utensils. It’s far better to choose reusable items, but if you do have disposable plastic, be sure to recycle it.
5. WATCH BIRDS, SHARE WHAT YOU SEE
To understand how birds are faring, scientists need hundreds of thousands of people to report what they’re seeing in backyards, neighborhoods, and wild places around the world. Without this information, scientists will not have enough timely data to show where and when birds are declining around the world.
How GEAS is helping: In addition to offering over 80 field trips per year where we record our data in eBird, GEAS volunteers participate in Climate Watch, Christmas Bird Counts, Great Backyard Bird Count, the Big Sit, and helps monitor bluebird boxes along Al Larson's Bluebird Trails.
How you can help: Enjoy birds while helping science and conservation: Join a project such as eBird, Project FeederWatch, a Christmas Bird Count, or a Breeding Bird Survey to record your bird observations. Your contributions will provide valuable information to show where birds are thriving—and where they need our help. Note: If you don't yet know how to use eBird, there’s a free course to help you get the most out of the project and its tools.
6. KEEP CATS INDOORS
Cats are estimated to kill more than 2.6 billion birds annually in the U.S. and Canada (source). This is the #1 human-caused reason for the loss of birds, aside from habitat loss.
How you can help: Save birds and keep cats healthy by keeping cats indoors or creating an outdoor “catio.” You can also train your cat to walk on a leash.
7. AVOID PESTICIDES
More than 1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied in the United States each year (source). The continent’s most widely used insecticides, called neonicotinoids or “neonics,” are lethal to birds and to the insects that birds consume. Common weed killers used around homes, such as 2, 4-D and glyphosate (used in Roundup), can be toxic to wildlife, and glyphosate has been declared a probable human carcinogen (source).
How you can help: A healthy choice for you, your family, and birds: Consider purchasing organic food. Nearly 70% of produce sold in the U.S. contains pesticides (source). Reduce pesticides around your home and garden.
Photo by Damian Pollet via Creative Commons.
Illustration courtesy of the Smithsonian.
Photo by Anurag Vishwakarma/GBBC.
Photo by Gadio Sevilla via Creative Commons.
Photo by Irene Mei via Creative Commons.