5 Tips to Help Birds Weather Winter

Posted on October 23, 2015
Photo by OurGardenGate.com

Photo by OurGardenGate.com

It’s the time of year when leaves are turning, you don’t go anywhere without your favorite hooded sweatshirt, and just about everything is pumpkin flavored. It’s also when birds make their trek south or prepare for the long New England winter. Here are five ways to help our feathered friends this fall.

1. Safeguard your windows
Windows are a serious threat to migratory birds who accidentally fly into them. Nearly one billion birds die every year from colliding with glass windows, according to Dr. Pamela Hunt, a senior biologist in avian conservation at NH Audubon. If you have decals on your windows, affix them to the outside surface. Keep the decals two inches apart, and make sure bird feeders are either far enough away (30 feet) for a bird to recognize a window is part of a house or close enough (within three feet of the house) so they don’t have time to get moving fast enough to fatally crash. Screen doors or windows, and keeping the blinds closed when you’re not home, can also help.

2. Drink bird-friendly lattes
Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean are popular pit stops for migratory birds en route to or from your backyard. Those locales are also leading producers of coffee beans, and beans grown and harvested the traditional way – in shaded areas of the naturally-occurring trees – makes for great bird habitat. You can often find bird-friendly or shade-grown coffee in wild bird specialty stores and natural food stores.

3. Clean bird feeders
As temperatures drop and food sources become scarce, birds will rely more heavily on bird feeders, which can grow mold or transmit disease if they aren’t cleaned regularly. One part bleach to nine parts hot water makes an ideal and inexpensive cleaning solution.

4. Avoid catastrophic feline predation
The most significant human-related cause of bird mortality is predation by cats – both feral and outdoor house cats. Studies have shown that cats kill wildlife. Even well-fed cats and those with bells are a threat. Outdoor cats can be more dangerous in the winter when birds are concentrated around feeders. Keeping Fluffy or Mittens indoors keeps them safe from predators, parasites, and the possibility of becoming roadkill.

5. Leave your yard a little messy
Brush piles are great hideouts for birds during inclement weather, and dried-out flowers from your garden and flower bed contain nutritious seeds for foraging feathered friends.

Find more tips for helping birds, specifically for individuals, businesses and communities, in the resources available at our website, or by attending any of our community events.

About New Hampshire Audubon
Founded in 1914, New Hampshire Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. New Hampshire Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues.