In 2019 it was reported that the number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen a staggering 29 percent since 1970. Habitat loss is considered one of the primary reasons for this decline.
You can join with many others to make a difference by supporting DNRT’s work to preserve & restore wetland, open field & woodland habitat in Dartmouth.
In addition to a financial contribution to DNRT, here are several ways that you can help to protect many avian species.
- Keep your cat indoors. We know many cat owners hate to hear this, but cats kill up to 3.6 million birds each year in the contiguous United States each year. Keeping your animal indoors not only protects birds, but also protects your pet from diseases like rabies, as well as the likelihood of carrying fleas and ticks.
- Make your windows more visible. Birds often mistake reflections in glass as areas that they can fly into. Consider breaking up reflections with decals or other items. Black silhouettes work well for keeping birds from crashing, as do items that hang on windows and move in the breeze.
- Plant native trees, shrubs, and grasses that support birds. Large mowed lawns are not the ideal habitat for birds. Native plants with flowers with nectar, berries, and fruit provide fuel for birds, as well as nesting materials and protection from the elements and predators. (Plus, they can really make your property look beautiful!)
- Provide clean drinking water. Birds get thirsty too! Many urban and suburban neighborhoods do not have easily accessible areas of water for resident and migrating birds. Bird baths can be an affordable and aesthetically pleasing way to provide feathered friends with a hydration station. Make sure to freshen the bird bath every couple of days.
- Stop using pesticides. Eight percent of pesticides used in the US each year is applied to lawns and gardens. Pesticides can harm birds if directly ingested or even just through contact. Long term effects, such as neurological damage, can also occur. Consider letting your lawn “go wild” and purchasing chemical free produce.
- Provide nesting materials and sights. Before you burn or compost all of your yard waste, think of the birds! Twigs, leaves, grass, moss, and pine needles can be left out for birds to construct nests with. Bird houses can also be constructed and placed strategically throughout your property.
- Pass on the plastics. Bring your own bag and refuse single use plastic items. Many birds ingest plastic by mistaking it for edible foods. In addition to protecting birds, a reduction in consumption of plastics, and in overall consumption, is great for the environment.
An Example of What DNRT is Doing to Help Birds
One of the largest declines that we see among avian species is that of grassland birds. Many grassland bird species require fields of a considerable size for nesting. Bobolinks, which have the smallest habitat needs of the grassland birds, still require at least 10 acres of grassland. Savannah sparrows need a minimum of 25 acres. Upland sandpipers require around 200 acres of grassland! As large open grasslands become house lots and forests, critical habitat is lost for these species. To help combat this loss of habitat, DNRT works to acquire and protect properties with sufficient grassland to provide nesting habitat for species such as Savannah sparrow and bobolink. DNRT’s Ocean View Farm, acquired in 2018, contains 25 acres of grassland and supports both of these declining grassland bird species. DNRT also works to support birds that use grasslands as just one part of their lifecycle. The American woodcock uses fields for courtship, but requires wet forests for nesting. DNRT works to acquire and protect properties that contain both of these habitats in close proximity to each other so that woodcocks can continue to call Dartmouth home. Great properties for woodcock viewing include Smith Farm and Wernick Farm.