Ten Ways to Help Birds from Ecowatch

Perhaps you already followed the 10 pointers to help birds in the spring, or you provided nesting material to birds in your garden. But now that it’s officially summer, what can you do to help our feathered friends?   http://ecowatch.com/2014/06/25/10-ways-help-birds-summer/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=7846102c7e-Top_News_6_28_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-7846102c7e-85912169

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

During summertime, billions of birds throughout North America are busy raising their young and already preparing for migration. “The next three months are critical,” says American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick. “Some studies suggest that perhaps as many as half of all migrating birds do not make it back home, succumbing to various threats along the way. Our birds need all the help they can get.”

While birds have instincts (and smarts—a recent study found crows are as smart as seven-year-olds), it doesn’t mean they can’t use some assistance with their life-sustaining tasks. “Simple instinct is not always enough to keep the birds alive given the enormous tracts of habitat that have become suburban sprawl; the draining of waterways; the loss of biomass to pesticides; air and water contamination; and other threats such as window glass, cats and wind turbines,” continues Fenwick.

Here are American Bird Conservancy’s recommended top 10 ways you can help birds breed successfully and prepare for fall migration.

1. Leave baby birds alone.

If you find a baby bird out of its nest, don’t pick it up or bring it indoors. Although people mean well by “rescuing” the baby birds they find, in almost all cases, the parents are nearby and know best how to care for their young. An exception is injured birds, which can be taken to a local wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.

2. Ensure dogs and cats stay away from young birds.

Free-roaming cats kill billions of birds every year, taking an especially high toll on fledglings. Loose dogs also have an impact on nesting birds; for example, roaming dogs are suspected of recently wiping out a colony of threatened Least Terns in Florida. Keep your pets contained, and be especially cautious near beach-nesting birds.

3. Keep things fresh.

Your birdbath or other water feature should be cleaned regularly and kept filled with fresh water. Hummingbird feeders also need special attention, as hummingbirds will be switching back from an insect-rich diet to nectar in preparation for flights south in the fall. Be sure to thoroughly clean hummingbird feeders and replace the sugar water before it ferments—usually within three to seven days depending on the heat and sun.

4. Maintain your land in a bird-friendly fashion.

Consider letting some of your yard or other property go “wild,” or garden with native plants. Even small wild areas act as sources of food and shelter for birds through the summer. Avoid or minimize tree trimming to prevent disturbance to nesting birds. Where possible, avoid mowing grass in large fields and roadsides until after July to enable ground-nesting grassland birds to safely fledge.

5. Be a good landlord.

If you’re lucky enough to have swallows or phoebes nesting on your porch or carport, keep the nest intact. The birds will be gone soon enough, and in the meantime, they will help you out by eating hundreds of insects each day. If you have active nest boxes, clean them out after the young have fledged. Old nesting material attracts parasites and can be a source of disease.

6. Don’t spray: Stay away from pesticides.

Reconsider using pesticides, since even products labeled as “safe” will likely have negative consequences on birds. For example, many home and garden products includeneonicotinoids, or neonics, which have been found to be deadly to both bees and birds in even minute amounts. See this list of products to avoid from our friends at the Center for Food Safety.

7. Celebrate good times … without balloons.

When weddings, graduations and other parties are on your list of to-do’s, put balloons on your list of don’ts. Birds can become entangled in the long ribbons; individuals have been found hanging from trees or asphyxiated. Birds may also ingest the deflated balloon itself, which can eventually block the digestive tract and cause the animal to starve.

8. Turn the outdoor lights out.

Review your outdoor lighting for unnecessary disturbance to night-flying birds (as well as wasted energy). Bright artificial lights can disorient migrating birds and make collisions with windows, buildings and other structures more likely. Consider putting steady burning lights on motion sensors. Or, if your outdoor lighting needs permit, consider blue and green LED lights as they are less distracting to night-migrating birds.

9. Be a bird-friendly boater.

If you’re boating, avoid disrupting birds. Boats operated in proximity to nesting birds can cause behavioral changes, even leading to nest abandonment and failure in some cases. If you notice congregations of birds, steer clear to enable them to spend their energy on gathering food and raising their young.

10. Gone fishing? Remember the birds.

Discard fishing line properly in trash receptacles, since entanglement in line is a common and preventable source of bird mortality. If you accidentally hook a bird, don’t cut the fishing line. Instead, net the bird, cut the barb off the hook, and push it backward to remove. Just as important, be sure to use only nonlead fishing gear. Scores of birds suffer mortal poisoning from ingesting lead weights in fishing gear.

A Native Plant Yard in St. Paul

The natural: Transforming a yard from nasty to native

News & FeaturesDan OlsonDan Olson ·  · Jun 23, 2014
A sphinx moth caterpillar in Susan Damon’s boulevard, which is filled with native plants, Wednesday, June 11, 2014 in St. Paul. Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

Everyone Can help the Bees and Butterflies!


Plant a pollinator plant this weekend!

Purple Cone flower
Purple Cone flower


Ask to be sure plants you purchase are Neonicotinoid free!

This is from the http://www.xerces.org/ society


Everyone can plant a flower for National Pollinator Week!
Once again, it is National Pollinator Week and a fantastic time to thank the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators by giving them a hand. There are so many threats to pollinators — pesticides, diseases, habitat loss, and more — that one can be discouraged. But everyone can easily do one thing to help pollinators: plant a beautiful bee-friendly flowering plant.Whether adding bee-friendly perennial wildflowers to frame your front yard, planting a pollinator hedgerow along your farm road, including bee-flowers in your vegetable garden, or just planting a pot with a sunflower on your porch, any effort to increase the number of flowers available for bees can help pollinators and beautify your home or farm. Plus, it is a great joy to watch the bees visit the flowers you plant and to share this wildlife with your friends and neighbors.Here are some places you can go to find information about which plants are best for your area.

Don’t forget to sign the Pollinator Protection Pledgeand join the ever-expanding community of pollinator enthusiasts — and enjoy yourself as we celebrate pollinators!


Find Out More:


To discover more ways to support pollinators, including ideas for creating a bee garden in your own community, visit our Bring Back the Pollinators webpage.


Thank you for doing your part!

Native plants don't need chemicals!
Native plants don’t need chemicals!

A new book by Heather Holm
A new book by
Heather Holm

Business Recycling Grants Available

Duluth, MN, Business Recycling
Duluth, MN, Business Recycling


Hennepin County Grants,

Deadline June 15, and October 15
Apply Now!
A newly elected Minneapolis City Council is finally committed to enforcing city recycling rules. On Earth Day, April 2015, Minneapolis restaurants will be required to use recyclable/compostable take-out containers, and offer on site recycling.

Hennepin County has grants to help businesses with these changes:

Apply for these grants, or call about questions:
or call 612 543 1316, for composting call 612 348 5893


http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/260496151.html  To-go has to go!

http://www.startribune.com/local/260862031.html  Recycling bins head to work

Business Recycling in Little Rock, AK
Business Recycling in Little Rock, AK

Take Action For The Monarch Butterflies

This is from the Food Action Network and Friends of the Earth:

On the heels of recent bee declines, another important pollinator, the monarch butterfly, is also in serious trouble. In March, the New York Times reported that the number of monarchs arriving at their ancient overwintering grounds in Mexico had reached the lowest level on record.

The monarch’s sharp decline has been linked to massive increases in the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops engineered to tolerate huge doses of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. These herbicide-tolerant “Roundup Ready” crops necessitate ever-increasing amounts of the Roundup weed killer — virtually wiping out milkweed, the only food young monarchs eat.

Friends Of the Earth has launched a petition to help protect the monarch butterfly. Will you add your voice?

Click here to tell the USDA and EPA to stop approving these herbicide-resistant GM crops and the toxic chemicals that accompany them.

Monarchs, like bees, are a “canary in the coal mine.” This iconic species is one of a wide variety of pollinators and other insects, including many that benefit farmers, that are also rapidly disappearing, along with the birds, mammals and other predators that feed on them.

Tell the EPA and USDA to stop approving herbicide-resistant genetically engineered crops and to instead promote non-toxic pest and weed management to the benefit of farmers, our health, our ecosystems and the precious monarch butterfly.

Add your voice now.
 Yours for all life,

Ocean Robbins

P.S. Over the last decade, the amount of U.S. crops genetically engineered to withstand Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide grew to 83 percent of corn and 93 percent of soybeans. Use of Roundup skyrocketed and has virtually wiped out the milkweed that once grew among our farm fields. Join Friends Of the Earth’s campaign and tell the USDA and EPA act now, before it’s too late.

Marvelous Sounds of Nature

This is best time of year to be outside and listen to the symphony of nature!


When many of our nesting birds reach their nesting area, they sing their beautiful unique song. Many are trying to attract a mate.  In our yard the house wren sings constantly.  Up north the songs of the red start warblers, song sparrow and white-throated sparrows just have to make you happy.  Listen to the White-throated sparrow:


I loved this op-ed in the Star Tribune:

The reason I dwell on how I do my yardwork is because this is the one task of homeownership that does not seem like a chore. Being outside with the sights and sounds of nature is something I would miss if I used a timesaving, noise-producing gadget.

I wish some of my neighbors would also stop, look and listen to nature’s surround sound theater.”  Ben Cherryhomes in http://www.startribune.com

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/261171421.html  Stop and listen to the sounds in nature!  Turn off your noisy yard machines.

You do not need to do yard work to enjoy the sounds of May/June.  Just walk around the block or walk to a nearby park.  This marvelous symphony doesn’t last long.  Many birds will stop singing after the eggs of the next generation are laid.