Helping young birds during the breeding season

young birds

June is the peak of bird breeding season in the United States and Canada. Both countries serve as bird nurseries for hundreds of species at this time of year. This is also a risky time, and most chicks do not survive to adulthood. Given the loss of nearly 3 billion birds since 1970, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) encourages action to help young birds survive and thrive. Here are ways to help:

  • Leave the baby birds alone unless there is immediate danger.

Helping a young bird, especially one that is learning to fly, is a very delicate situation. Much like a child learning to ride a bicycle, a youngster’s first attempt at theft is not always successful. A juvenile bird may appear helpless or in need of care, but its parents are likely nearby and monitoring the situation from a safe distance. If you find a bird that really needs help (for example, a chick that is injured or in immediate danger), don’t take care of it yourself any longer than necessary. As soon as possible, find a local, certified wildlife rehabilitator who has the necessary permits, training, and facilities to help the animal.

  • Keep pets indoors or under supervision when outdoors.

This advice is relevant at all times. Free-ranging pets are natural predators and can cause stress to chicks and adult birds. When baby birds are learning to fly, giving them space away from curious animals is one of the best things you can do.

Practice and defend treat cats like dogs – i.e. providing safe and nurturing places for pet felines to live indoors full time, or supervised and content outside using a harness, backpack or “catio”. Find out more simple steps you can take to protect birds on our Indoor Cats Page. If you own a cat, you can also commitment to keep your pet responsibly confined.

  • Protect birds from collisions with glass.
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Glass strikes are a major man-made threat to young and adult birds, killing up to 1 billion individuals each year in the United States alone. Because birds see differently from us, glass poses a serious risk, especially when vegetation or other habitat is reflected off its surface. From tape to screens to films, there are many effective, easy-to-install, and inexpensive home solutions to help reduce bird-window collisions. ABC’s Collision Avoidance Product Database is a great starting point for determining which solution is best for your home.

  • Garden and landscape with native plants.

Well maintained lawns don’t cut it for birds. Of course, you might see an American Robin passing by. But to attract a variety of birds, look for opportunities at home, school, or your business to replace grass with native flowers, shrubsAnd trees which support the birds as well as the insects necessary for the survival of the birds. A quick method: Cover the grass with cardboard or several pages of newspaper, layer several centimeters of soil mixed with compost and plant!

  • Say no to pesticides.

Pesticides can have both immediate and long-term negative impacts about the birds visiting or breeding in your garden. While advertising can make common pesticides look attractive and harmless, by applying them in your garden you risk doing far more harm than the pests you are targeting. Neonicotinoids (or neonicotinoids) – the most widely used insecticides in the world – are used as seed coatings and are found in products like insecticides. A seed coated in neonics is enough to kill a songbird, let alone harm a bird’s reproduction. To weed your garden, use your own elbow grease or natural alternatives to chemical-based options. Learn more about organic gardening on our blog.

  • Leave him.
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Where practical, leave sticks and dead leaves on the ground. A completely bare lawn doesn’t provide much cover for birds, especially young ones learning to fly. A less clean yard will also help create a nutritious layer of compost that enriches the soil. Plant matter also provides the building blocks for bird nests and promotes foraging activity. The longer the birds forage in your garden, the longer you can enjoy it.

  • Plan for snags for clear lines of sight.

You can “plant” a large dead branch in your garden or leave a few dead branches in living trees to provide vantage points for birds. You may be surprised how quickly hummingbirds, flycatchers and other birds adopt these “stick” perches, which help them watch out for predators, competitors and food sources.

  • Also support indoor birds.

You can support the birds whether you have a yard or not. Buy bird-friendly coffee, “reduce, reuse, recycle” and raise your voice by asking your elected officials to support bird conservation efforts.

To learn more about ABC’s top tips for helping birds, read how our staff are working at home.

Thanks to American Bird Conservancy for providing this perspective.