As we rush around this holiday season to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list, and gather together to celebrate with our loved ones, we are surrounded by the spirit of giving. The holidays are also the perfect time to show our feathered friends some extra love! Read on to learn how you can help birds this winter.
1.) Become a Citizen Scientist
If you enjoy watching the birds in your yard and your neighbourhood, why not put your observations to good use? You don’t need to be an expert birder to make meaningful contributions to conservation. Become a citizen scientist by participating in a fun citizen science initiative this winter.
Join your local Christmas Bird Count and count birds on a specific route or from your yard on count day (one day between December 14 and January 5 each year). Or sign up for Project Feederwatch, and occasionally count the birds that come to your feeder over the winter.
The results of these programs are used by scientists to track population trends and understand patterns of bird distribution – very important information for conservation work!
2.) Give Gifts with Birds in Mind
Make a powerful statement with the gifts you purchase and choose gifts that do good and help birds.
For the coffee aficionado on your list, consider buying certified Bird-Friendly coffee. Besides tasting great, Bird-Friendly coffee is grown in a sustainable way that provides high-quality habitat for a huge variety of your favourite birds over the winter, like Baltimore Orioles, Magnolia Warblers, and Blue-headed Vireos.
Help your eco-minded friends reduce plastic pollution to protect seabirds and other wildlife by gifting sustainable reusable items. Reusable coffee cups, produce bags, stainless steel straws, or beeswax ‘plastic’ wrap are all great ideas.
Inspire a budding birder by giving the gift of knowledge. Field guides and binoculars are classic options, but there are other possibilities for the techy on your list. For example, Larkwire is a fun, game-based app that helps you learn bird songs and calls. Both beginner and experienced birders alike can improve their skills so that they will be ready to identify returning migratory birds by ear next spring.
3.) Feed the Birds (Safely)
If you already feed birds, you know how much fun it can be watching their antics at the feeder. Make your feeder even more inviting by offering a variety of different food types to attract different species, including juncos, woodpeckers, and goldfinches. Keep birds safe by protecting them from two important dangers: the risk of window collisions and the spread of diseases at your feeder.
Help birds avoid a deadly collision with your windows by adding visual markers to the outside of the glass. Get creative and create holiday-themed designs or hang ribbons in front of the glass. We also recommend moving your feeder as close to your window as possible (half a meter or closer). Birds are less likely to build up enough momentum to seriously hurt themselves should they collide with the window.
To prevent spreading diseases, clean your feeders on a regular basis (at least once every two weeks). One effective method is cleaning out stuck on debris and then washing the disassembled feeder in your dishwasher on the hot setting. Let dry completely before refilling.
Bonus: Passionate non-profit organizations work hard year-round to protect birds and the habitats they need, and they can’t do it without your help. Consider making a donation (or on the behalf of a loved one) over the holidays to support their life-saving work.