Create Backyard Habitat
Creating backyard habitat is something
nearly everyone can do.
Provide food. Provide plenty of natural
bird food by planting native plants that
bear small berries or that support ample
insect populations. A bird feeder is also
useful for attracting many birds. Position
feeders to avoid deadly window collisions.
Plant shelter. Birds require dense cover,
like shrubs and evergreen trees,
especially during winter.
Furnish water. Commercial bird baths,
small pools, and natural ponds are
sure-fire ways to attract birds, especially
if water is dripping or moving.
Supply nest sites. Put up a birdhouse for
hole-nesting birds like chickadees and
wrens, and platforms for robins and
For more information on creating
habitat, contact your state wildlife
agency or National Wildlife Federation’s
Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program at
703/790 4000 or www.nwf.org/habitats.
Think Before You Spray
Each year 4 million tons of pesticides are
applied in the United States exposing
672 million birds to the harmful effects of
these chemicals. One-tenth of those
exposed, or 67 million birds, are
estimated to die. Before using pesticides
consider the following alternatives.
Exercise prevention first. For example,
drain away standing water in your yard;
elevate stacks of wood off the ground and
move them away from your house; use
naturally pest- and disease-resistant
native plants; and rotate vegetables in
your garden from year to year.
Use non-chemical controls. Mulch,
spade, hoe or pull weeds in the garden.
Frequently mow and water (if supplies
permit) your grass to encourage a
resistant, healthy lawn.
Use low-impact pesticides. If you must
use chemicals, use the most specific
chemical pesticides for your need. Always
follow label instructions.
Learn more. Many sources of information
on pesticides and plant care can be found
at bookstores and libraries, or on the
Internet. Contact your county agricultural
extension agent with any questions.
For more information on pesticides,
contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s
Division of Environmental
Contaminants at 703/358 2148 or
Be a Responsible Cat Owner
Biologists estimate that free-ranging cats
kill hundreds of millions of birds each
year. The number of pet cats in the
United States has grown from 30 million
in 1970 to 60 million in 1990. In addition,
millions of stray and feral cats roam our
cities, suburbs, and rural areas.
Keep only as many cats as you can care
for. If you don’t want your cat anymore,
do not release it into rural areas. Contact
your local animal shelter or welfare
Keep your cat indoors whenever possible.
It’s safer for your cat as well as for
Spay or neuter your cat. There are
millions of kittens and cats already born
that need homes and human care.
Locate bird feeders away from heavy
cover so cats cannot surprise
For more information on keeping cats
indoors, contact the American Bird
Conservancy’s Cats Indoors! Campaign,
at 202/778 9666 or www.abcbirds.org.
Ways Citizens Can
Contribute to the
Conservation of Wild Birds
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Day
Set on the second Saturday in
May, IMBD is an invitation to
celebrate and support migratory
Buy Shade-grown Coffee
You can help conserve vital rainforest
habitat and protect more than 150 forest-dependent
migratory bird species just by
drinking shade-grown coffee.
In many parts of the neotropics, shade-grown
coffee farms are the only forest-like
habitat remaining. Due to the
increasing demand for coffee worldwide,
many of these traditional farms have
been converted to “sun coffee”
plantations, which are devoid of trees.
Unfortunately, sun-grown coffee, while
yielding higher short-termoutput,
requires higher levels of fertilization and
plant replacement, suffers increased risk
of failure due to drought, leads to soil
damage, and means the destruction of the
forest—a long-termresource for native
peoples. Loss of the canopy also means
loss of habitat for migratory birds; studies
have found that the diversity of migratory
birds plummets when coffee plantations
are converted from shade to sun.
When purchasing coffee, check the
label or ask your grocer for certified
For more information on shade-grown
coffee, visit the Smithsonian Migratory
Bird Center’s Coffee Corner at
Buy a Duck Stamp
One of the easiest and most effective
actions anyone can take for birds is to
purchase a Migratory Bird Hunting and
Conservation Stamp, commonly known
as the Duck Stamp. This stamp, required
for hunters of migratory birds, but also
popular with stamp collectors, art
enthusiasts, and wildlife fans, is available
for $15 from national wildlife refuges,
post offices, and Wal-Marts, K-Marts, and
other sporting goods stores around the
country. Ninety-eight cents of every
dollar raised by Duck Stamp sales are
used to buy wetland habitat, which
benefits migratory waterfowl and a host
of other species of birds and wildlife.
To request more information on the
Duck Stamp, call the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife message line at 800/344 WILD,
or visit http://duckstamps.fws.gov.
Get Involved in
receptive to input from
citizens, especially if you have
a good understanding of the
Listen to what your county
commissioners or land use planners are
saying about future use and zoning of
lands in your area. Make sure those plans
are in the best interest of wildlife, as well
as other members of the community.
Remember that “green space” raises all
property values and improves the quality
of life for everyone.
Join a Conservation Group
A good way to become more informed
about birds is to join an organization;
options span a broad spectrum, from
animal welfare leagues to sporting
groups to garden clubs. Simple
interaction with other people who share
your basic interests is likely to give you a
more informed viewpoint about bird
conservation and amplify your opinions.
Volunteer at a Refuge or Park
One of the most significant actions
anyone can take is to volunteer at a
wildlife refuge, park, or other wildlife
sanctuary. You may be able to help with
litter control, trail maintenance, guiding
tours for civic or school groups,
developing a bird or tree list, or starting
a nest-box program. Few facilities would
turn down an offer of some additional
Join or start a support or “Friends”
group at your nearest national wildlife
refuge or park. These groups provide a
consistent source of volunteer support.
The help you provide can make a real
contribution to the future of wild birds.
For more information about “Friends”
groups, contact U.S. Fish & Wildlife at
703/358 1744 and ask for Tina Dobrinsky.
Participate in Citizen Science
Help scientists track the status of bird
populations. Participate in Christmas
Bird Counts, the Great Backyard Bird
Count, Project Feeder Watch, and other
To find out more about bird science you
can do, visit http://birdsource.org, a
website managed by the National
Audubon Society and the Cornell
Laboratory of Ornithology.
Donate Your Old Binoculars
Give new life to your old binoculars by
passing them on to new birding
enthusiasts. If your old binoculars are in
good condition or only need a little work,
they can be refurbished and given to a
Check with nature centers or bird
groups for local binocular recycling
programs. The Birder’s Exchange at
distributes binoculars and other gear
Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day!
Share your interest, enjoyment, and
concern with others. Find and attend an
IMBD event in your community, or better
yet, start something yourself. Integrate
IMBD into a conversation, lecture, class,
newsletter, or exhibit; host a bird walk or
shade-grown coffee hour; or purchase
IMBD products for use or sale.
Celebrating IMBD is a good way to
generate community spirit, ensure a
better environment, and raise awareness
about and promote the conservation of
migratory birds and the habitats they
need to survive.
For more information, contact:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Migratory Bird Management
IMBD Events and Information Coordinator
There are many simple ways you can
help protect wild birds.
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