When it comes to April 1, it’s normally considered a traditional day for pranks, but little do we know it’s also a day to celebrate the beauty of birds. Bird Day is held annually as a part of the UNESCO “Man and Biosphere” Program. It’s not a coincidence that this holiday is celebrated on April 1. It was on April 1, 1906, that the International Convention on Bird Protection was signed. It is not only an anniversary of the Convention but also the time when birds return from wintering. The main purpose of holding this holiday aims at protecting all bird species during nesting seasons, prohibiting and restricting illegal hunting, protecting birds on the verge of extinction, creating reserves for the reproduction of birds, etc.
Bird Population is Declining…
According to a comprehensive assessment of bird population changes in North America from Science, since the late 20th century, there is a devastating reduction in nest population by a notable amount. Nearly 3 million birds were lost since 1970, 90 percent belong to 12 bird families, including sparrows, warblers, finches, and swallows. The significant decline in bird population also brings devastating disruptions to the entire ecosystem. Birds are dedicated pollinators and sweepers of the world. They control pests, pollinate plants, spread seeds and inspire science. The situation is getting better recently thanks to the initiatives taken by bird conservationists and warm-hearted gardeners, but there is more we can do to save these little fellas from extinction.
Top 5 Ways to Help Nesting Birds During Breeding Seasons
Here, we have concluded the top 5 ways you may find useful to help birds in your garden during breeding seasons.
1. Put Up Nest Boxes
Putting up a nest box is one of the best things you can do to provide a safe place for birds of all kinds to lay their eggs. It may seem obvious but a well-placed birdhouse can mean the difference between breeding success and failure for cavity-nesting birds. It protects them from predators, gives them a shelter to raise the young chicks and helps them survive extreme weather. You should place the birdhouse in a location sheltered from wind and rain, and you should also make sure the nest box will not be exposed to direct sunlight as the baby birds may overheat. And the birdhouse should be mounted in a relatively open area to ensure that birds have a clear sight and flight path.
2. Change to Breeding Diets
High-energy bird food like seeds and nuts will be of great help during springtime. Different bird species have different preferences. Hummingbirds are more attracted to nectar or sugar-infused bread crumbles, while blue jays’ favorites would be peanuts and berries. But among all, black oil sunflower seeds are most appealing to a great number of birds for their high nutrition and calories. And your food choices will also get influenced by what type of feeder you use. Safflower seeds will work well in platform or hopper feeders, while nyjer seeds will be more suitable for tube feeders. And to prevent birdseed spoilage, it’s better to place your bird feeder (hummingbird feeders in particular) in shaded or sheltered areas.
3. Provide Water for Drinking and Bathing
More than ever, it becomes more difficult for wild birds to find freshwater in this concrete jungle, so giving them easy access to water for drinking or bathing on hot days will help them tremendously. To provide a clean water source for your feathered friends, you can put up a birdbath or mister in your garden. It’s always better to go for a shallow-bowl birdbath (no more than 50mm deep), so birds of different sizes and species can comfortably perch on it. And you need to place your birdbath away from the bird feeder so it won’t get polluted by feeding debris. You also need to change the water regularly as leaves and bird droppings will contaminate it. By changing the water, you can also curb mosquito infestations.
4. Watch Out for Nest Threats
If you have nesting birds in your garden, you need to look out for predators! A bird-friendly backyard should be one free of nest threats. Sometimes, the worst predator may be sitting in your living room right this second. If you raise a cat in your house, you’d better keep a close eye on your naughty fella——he will be sure to try to grab a fledgling when no one is around. And be careful of where you’re gonna place your birdhouse and feeder. For safety concerns, it is not recommended to hang your birdhouse close to bird feeders or birdbaths, for it will only increase the chances of predator attacks. And to prevent other birds from taking up the residence, you should install a predator guard on the nest box and avoid leaving food and garbage out that will attract other animals like squirrels.
5. Make Your Garden an Ideal Nesting Spot
Here are some tips to turn your backyard into a bird-friendly nesting spot. Growing plants that produce natural bird food will be very helpful and some of the plants you could choose from include holly berries, hawthorns, ivy, etc. If there are some dead trees, wasted trunks in your backyard, leave them. They will make perfect materials for nesting and shelter for a vast majority of birds. And you should avoid any use of pesticides for they will spread diseases and pollute the entire ecosystem in your backyard.
What to Do if you Find a Bird’s Nest?
In general, if you find a bird’s nest on your property, the best thing to do is to minimize your disturbance, stay at a respectful distance, reduce door traffics and postpone construction. If the nest is blocking the entrance and there is no way you can remove it without disturbing its residents, try to contact the local wildlife agency for help. What’s more, you should know how often you should check the nest. Checking every three to four days will be just fine. If you find a newborn chick on the ground, think twice before you act. If it’s a hatchling that falls out of the nest by accident, you can gently put it back into the nest. But if it’s a fledgling, look around before you take the next move. Maybe it’s just practicing flying and its parents are probably around.
And there is a legal question about moving the nest without authority permission. Moving an active nest on your own will get you in trouble. Documented in the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to move or destroy an active nest, which is defined as one in which a bird has laid the eggs or is using it, for any native species in America (house sparrows and European starling are not included but most are covered), apart from exceptions to allow the control of certain birds for specific reasons by the local authority. Moving a nest at the wrong time without consultation and permission means you’re violating the law, and chances are higher that you get prosecuted. In conclusion, we do not recommend you to remove the nest and only in extreme circumstances that the birds are currently in great danger, should you consider a relocation. If the nest must absolutely be removed, contact the rescue organization (they have permits to deal with this situation) to take care of it.
What Should We Pay Attention to During Bird Watching?
Any form of bird watching should be carried out in an ethical and legal manner. It’s legally bound that any ill-intention to disturb the nesting sites would be considered a violation of the regulation. And it has been well documented in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 that bird harassment in any manner is prohibited and deserves severe punishment. And any hazardous behaviors that will cause irreparable consequences like premature fledglings, abandoned nestlings or breeding failures should be curbed immediately. All in all, during bird watching, we need to keep the disturbance to the minimum and always keep in mind that the welfare of the birds always comes first.
How to Watch Birds without Disturbing Them——Get a Sneak Peek
Though it’s prohibited to disturb the active bird nests, you’re legally able to install a nest box camera into the birdhouse to take a closer look at those feathered creatures without spooking the inside residents. In this way, you can know exactly the time when the birds will use your birdhouse and timely clean and sanitize it after one brood. The bird box camera is an effective solution to help you figure out how mother birds raise the young and develop more respect for these fragile but tenacious creatures. Green backyard has launched a collection of bird box/feeder/wildlife cameras for outdoor applications. If you’re interested, check it out here!