10 Things You Can Do For Birds
Plant a garden. Be a citizen scientist. Join "Lights Out." Your steps can make a difference.
The coal that fuels many power plants in the eastern United States comes from Appalachia, where mountaintop removal mining has obliterated more than 750,000 acres of forests, destroying habitat in an area larger than Rhode Island. The United States is still one of the biggest contributors to global warming: The average American is responsible for 22 tons of carbon dioxide each year, more than six times that of the average person globally. Leaving your car at home twice a week--and walking or biking instead--can reduce your emissions by two tons a year (and it's healthy for you, too). Make conservation a family challenge. Keep a journal and award points for conservation activities, including miles walked, biked, or covered on mass transit instead of driving; each time lights are turned off when leaving the room; and unplugging electronic devices overnight.
8. Part with plastics
The first plastic bags were produced in 1957, according to Worldwatch Institute, and we now throw away 100 billion a year. Many eventually wash into the ocean to join oceanic garbage patches, drifting gyres of trash that spread over huge sea areas. Every year the floating "bladders" of these bags kill hundreds of thousands of seabirds--along with sea turtles and marine mammals--which mistake them for jellyfish and squid, and then starve to death after filling their guts with plastic. Using less plastic also saves energy and, thus, bird habitat. Plastic is made from petroleum and requires energy--more fossil fuels--to go from oil to consumer good.
9. Curb your cats
Keep your felines inside or in outdoor "kitty condos." America's estimated 150 million outdoor cats kill serious numbers of birds--up to 3.7 billion a year, according to a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Smithsonian's Migratory Bird Center. Tiny radio transmitters affixed to gray catbird nestlings in the Washington, D.C., suburbs by scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University showed that predators killed about 80 percent of those birds after they fledged (more than was sustainable) and that cats were responsible for nearly half those deaths. House cats in the so-called "kittycam" study by University of Georgia and National Geographic Society researchers carried tiny videocameras. The footage shocked the cats' owners, revealing 44 percent of their pets were cutthroats; those cats averaged one kill every 17 hours outdoors.
Pick a bird species from your flyway (choose from a list at audm.ag/AudPlan). Become an advocate for that species: work to protect and restore its habitat, educate your community, talk with schoolkids, or volunteer at a preserve or nature center. Learning about "your" species will enrich your connection with nature and give you a new understanding of the region where you live.