5 Easy Ways to Help Birds in Tama County
By Naturalist Raina Genaw
1. Open a Bird Spa
Did you know that birds LOVE cleaning themselves? Scientists have discovered that birds can spend upwards of 3 hours a day arranging and combing through their feathers, removing lice and other pests, and spreading oils along their wings and body to waterproof themselves. Birds rely on their feathers for flight, so they need to make sure they're as clean and healthy as can be! How can you help them stay squeaky clean? By providing a heated bird bath, of course! Heated birdbaths take up very little space but provide necessary water for bathing and drinking, even on the coldest winter days.
2. Prevent Window Strikes
It's no secret that birds are a bit clumsy when it comes to glass windows. Up to one billion birds are killed by window collisions each year in the U.S. alone. But fret not! There's an easy solution: window coverings. The cause of most collisions is simply that bords aren't able to recognize glass as a solid object. Coverings to prevent bird strikes range from exterior shutters or screens to window clings and films to simple tempera paint. For additional information on window coverings, visit the American Bird Conservancy.
3. Let There Be (Less) Light
Hundreds of birds fly through Tama County on their annual migration routes, using the night sky as their guide. Artificial lights can muddle their view of the stars, skewing their nighttime "map" and causing confusion for passing birds. The solution is as simple as turning off any externally-visible lights each night. Save electricty, money, and birds- all at the same time!
4. Start a BB&B (Bird Bed & Breakfast)
Like most of us, birds are motivated by two main things: food and sleep. Your BB&B can be as simple as a pinecone bird feeder and recycled birdhouse, or as elaborate as a chimney swift tower and video bird feeder! Most birds don't nest in the winter and instead will roost (a fancy word for resting and staying warm). To make your birdhouse a suitable roosting spot, make sure it is warm, protects birds from wind, and has enough room to accomadate multiple birds that may want to huddle together for warmth. If you have a wooden bird house, you may be able to add wooden dowels to provide additional perching spots. For your feeder: black oil sunflower seeds and suet are easy feeder-fillers and can be purchased from many local grocery stores. Avoid giving birds animal fat or cooked meat, as it has little nutritional value for songbirds.
5. Keep Cats Indoors
Cats are one of the leading causes of bird and small mammal mortality worldwide. If you are a pet owner, consider keeping your pet inside or leashed to prevent harm to wildlife. If your pet will be roaming wild, please make sure it is spayed or neutered! While cats may seem cute and cuddly, they can decimate wildlife if left unchecked.