Daily Archives: April 18, 2013

Ten Ways You Can Protect Birds This Spring

As temperatures start to climb, birds begin their annual spring migration and also begin breeding. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) often gets asked, particularly during the spring, “How can I help the birds?” Here are the top ten things ABC recommends people do to aid or protect birds in their homes and yards.

According to Dr. George Fenwick, President of ABC, “Birds need help now more than ever. In addition to the ongoing threat of loss of habitat, staggering numbers of birds are directly killed due to a number of other human-related causes. Scientists estimate that 300 million to one billion birds die each year from collisions with buildings. Up to 50 million die from encounters with communication towers. Studies suggest that up to six million may die EACH DAY from attacks by cats left outdoors. These deaths occur year-round, but many occur during the peak spring and fall migrations. Some studies suggest that perhaps as many as half of all migrating birds do not make it back home, succumbing to various threats on either end of the journey.”




1. Keep your cat indoors – This is best for your cat as well as for the birds, as indoor cats live an average of three to seven times longer. Domestic cats, which are not native to the United States, are an introduced predator against which birds have no defense. Cats are responsible for an estimated 2.4 billion bird deaths each year. Some species have gone extinct because of cats! Even well-fed cats instinctively kill birds, and bells on cats don’t effectively warn birds of cat strikes. In the spring, young birds or nestlings often find themselves on the ground calling for a parent, only to end up attracting the fatal attention of a nearby cat. Because of this, studies show that bird mortality from cats in the spring is disproportionately higher when compared to other times of the year.

2. Prevent birds hitting your windows by using a variety of treatments to the glass on your home. Collisions with glass constitute a major source of bird mortality, with as many as one billion dying each year. See ABC’s new flyer!

3. Eliminate pesticides from your yard-even those pesticides that are not directly toxic to birds can pollute waterways and reduce insects that birds rely on for food – and try to buy organic food to help reduce pesticide use on farms. For rodent control, seal cracks, remove food sources, and use snap and electric traps rather than rodenticides, which poison birds as well as young children.

4. Create backyard habitat – yards both large and small can benefit birds and other wildlife. Create a diverse landscape by planting native grasses, flowers, and shrubs that attract birds. You will be rewarded by their beauty and song, and will have fewer insect pests as a result.

5. Donate old bird-watching equipment such as binoculars or spotting scopes to local bird watching groups – they can get them to schools or biologists in other countries who may not have the resources they need. More people studying birds means more voices for bird conservation!

6. Reduce your carbon footprint – use a hand-pushed or electric lawnmower, carpool, and use low-energy bulbs and Energy Star appliances. Less energy used means less habitat destroyed for energy production.

7. Buy organic food and drink shade-grown coffee – increasing the market for produce grown without the use of pesticides, which can be toxic to birds and other animals, will reduce the use of these hazardous chemicals in the U.S. and overseas. Shade coffee farms have been demonstrated to provide far superior habitat for birds than coffee grown in open sun.

8. Keep feeders and bird baths clean and change the water regularly to avoid disease and prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

9. Support bird-friendly legislation – Example: HR 1643, a proposed bill that provides for bird-friendly federal buildings.

10. Join a bird conservation group such as ABC, the National Audubon Society or the National Wildlife Federation – learn more about birds and support important conservation work.

“Protecting and helping birds is not only the right thing to do, it is also good for the economy and the future of our environment. Birds are invaluable as controllers of insect pests, as pollinators of crops, and dispersers of native plant seeds, and they also generate tremendous economic revenues through the pastimes of bird feeding and bird watching,” said Fenwick.

A federal government study reports that over 20 percent of the U.S. population – 48 million people – participates in bird watching. Of that total, about 42 percent (20 million people) actually travel to see birds. Birders spend about $36 billion annually in pursuit of their pastime. The top five bird watching states by percentage of total population are: Montana (40%); Maine (39%); Vermont (38%); Minnesota (33%); and Iowa (33%).

National Wildlife Refuge Association Applauds Jewell Confirmation

The National Wildlife Refuge Association on April 11 expressed its strong support for Sally Jewell as the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior following the Senate’s confirmation of her nomination. Jewell’s appreciation for the outdoors and wildlife, as well as her extensive knowledge of the economic benefits of our natural resources, will bring a unique perspective in the President’s cabinet.

“We are extremely pleased by the Senate’s confirmation of Sally Jewell to be the 51st Secretary of the Interior and look forward to working closely with her to grow our nation’s commitment to wildlife conservation at a landscape level, in places such as the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, the Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and Cache River National Wildlife Refuge.” said David Houghton, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “She will undoubtedly be an excellent spokesperson for the President’s America‘s Great Outdoors initiative and will continue to bring attention to our nation’s great public lands.”

Jewell has earned national recognition for her management skills of the nearly $2 billion outdoor equipment company, REI. This expertise makes her uniquely qualified to lead an agency with hundreds of millions of acres of lands where Americans recreated.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 560 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System spanning 150 million acres and where the sun literally never sets, with lands from Guam to Puerto Rico, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Over 40 million annual visitors contribute over $4.2 billion in economic output and over 34,000 jobs from recreation-related spending. National wildlife refuges and their recreational opportunities is part of a growing industry in the United States. Jewell’s leadership at the helm of the Department of Interior comes at a crucial time.

“Sally Jewell has been a leader in the outdoor recreation industry using innovative strategies to protect and restore wildlife habitat throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country; as Secretary of the Interior, she will have an opportunity to articulate and implement a larger conservation vision for the nation.” said Houghton. “We look forward to working with her to further the goals and mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuge System.”

Senate Introduces NAWCA Reauthorization

In a bipartisan showing, lead co-sponsors Sens. Barbara Boxer (CA) and David Vitter (LA) introduced S. 741 today, asking for the reauthorizations and appropriations of the successful public-private partnerships funded by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

The bill is a straight reauthorization of NAWCA funding of $75 million through FY17.

“This joint effort by the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to reauthorize NAWCA clearly illustrates that it is a model for employing effective partnerships to support shared conservation goals,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “NAWCA is the ideal public-private partnership since it benefits not only hunters and anglers, but all U.S. citizens. It conserves functioning wetlands, thus diminishing floods, preventing soil erosion and improving our water quality.”

NAWCA has benefited the national economy by translating more than $1 billion in federal appropriations over the life of the program into nearly $3.5 billion in additional economic activity. These expenditures have created, on average, nearly 7,500 new jobs (e.g. construction workers, biologists, engineers) annually in the United States, generating more than $200 million in worker earnings each year.

“NAWCA has conserved almost 27 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands since its creation in 1989,” said DU Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt. “It’s been so effective that every federally funded dollar is matched by at least three non-federal dollars by states or conservation organizations like DU. We look forward to working with our Hill champions to expeditiously pass this vital conservation legislation.”

Other original co-sponsors include Sens. Max Baucus (MT), Roy Blunt (MO), John Boozman (AR), Ben Cardin (MD), Thad Cochran (MS), Chris Coons (DE), Mike Crapo (ID), James Inhofe (OK) and Roger Wicker (MS).

NAWCA conserves North America‘s waterfowl, fish and other wildlife resources while producing a variety of environmental and economic benefits. Every federal dollar provided by NAWCA must be matched by at least one dollar from non-federal sources.

Because the program is so effective, NAWCA funds are usually tripled or quadrupled. Since its inception, more than 4,500 partners have been involved in more than 2,200 NAWCA projects across North America.