Aug 25, 2015 | Featured Web Article

Putting Out the Welcome Mat

Looking for ways to make your backyard avian visitors feel at home? Try the suggestions below.
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Almost all migratory birds are experiencing population decreases due to loss of habitats and environmental contamination. Nonmigratory resident birds, too, are feeling the effects of the growing human population. This is not a call to rally on the White House lawn. You can do your part in your own backyard. Here are some suggestions:

1. Keep your yard as chemical-free as possible.

2. If you must quest for the perfect lawn, keep one area untreated and let it grow nice and weedy. The birds (and other creatures) will love it.

3. Clean your bird feeders and bird bath regularly to prevent the spread of disease.

4. Offer only as much food on platform feeders (or on the ground) as can be eaten in one day. Old food can get wet, spoiled, and can carry disease.

5. Provide housing for cavity-nesting birds.

6. Plant and maintain your property for other creatures like bats, butterflies, reptiles, and mammals.

7. Keep cats indoors or take them out on a leash. Domestic cats kill millions of songbirds annually. This tragic toll can be easily reduced. Bells on collars don't work. Stealthy cats can hunt without making them jingle.

8. Prevent window strikes (birds flying into large windows) by placing screening over problem windows. Flying birds cannot discern reflection from reality. Large glass windows reflect the surrounding habitat. Anything placed over the window breaks up the reflection and birds aren't fooled by the illusion. One particularly effective solution is to use FeatherGuard.

9. Pick up trash, such as rusty cans, plastic bags, fishing line, six-pack rings, and so on. Birds can become entangled or even be choked by these unnatural items.

If you realize that you're already doing all these things for birds in your backyard, you should be enjoying plenty of birds already! In that case, you may want to branch out beyond your backyard to find and care for a greater variety of birds.

On the other hand, if some or all of these ideas and suggestions are new to you, get ready for some real fun. Your yard is about to become as busy as a shopping mall on December 24.



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  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021