October 25th, 2022 by georgann
The size and types of habitats that birds require depend largely on each species’ food preferences, foraging strategies, and nest site requirements. Many species have habitat requirements that either conflict with human activities or are overlooked during the planning stages of urban and rural communities. With proper development and management, suitable habitats can be provided so that birds, and other wildlife, can survive and even flourish in your community.
Several guidelines should be considered when establishing and maintaining bird habitats. Each guideline comprises realistic goals that support conservation of bird populations and their habitats.
Community Land-use Planning
Don’t overlook small habitat patches–small parks of trees, shrubs, or grassy areas are not only used by birds but can also increase the value of your community as a desirable place to live and raise a family.
Development plans should include, not destroy, tracts of native habitat. Cluster homes together, avoiding impact on wetlands and other native habitat. Leave “green” areas which will increase the value of the homes.
Avoid placing building structures on ridge tops. Birds tend to follow ridges during migration and can strike windows, power lines, and towers.
Design golf courses with conservation and bird habitats in mind. Establish bluebird trails, eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, and preserve natural areas wherever possible.
Backyard Habitat Conservation Projects
Nearly three-quarters of the land in the United States is controlled by private landowners. Very few of us own large tracts of land, but with a little effort even the smallest backyards can become suitable habitats for nesting birds and migrant species.
Simply put, birds require a safe place that provides food, water, shelter, and nesting habitat for
Providing a variety of food sources that birds require is the most fun and challenging aspect of wildlife management.
Grow native plants that vary in size, structure, and types of foods produced. Include trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, and ground cover in your design.
Choose plants that provide fruit, berries or seeds and nuts throughout the year.
Set out hummingbird feeders and birdseed in a variety of places around your yard. Include suet and native foods in your offerings.
Do not feed “human” food to wildlife. Avoid attracting pests and predators by careful placement and choice of food.
Reduce the amount of lawn on your property by replacing it with plants that provide food for birds.
A reliable source of fresh water is an essential part of a wildlife habitat. Creating a birdbath or other source of water can be as simple or complex as you wish. Almost any flat receptacle that holds water will attract birds; an upside-down garbage can lid, a plastic tub, small pool, or cement birdbath. Some points to consider when choosing and placing your water source:
Choose a shallow receptacle, no more than 1 inch in depth. If your container is deeper, place several flat stones in it as a perch so birds can gradually wade into the water.
Provide dripping water or a mister with your birdbath. The sound of running water is a magnet to birds.
Keep your water clean. Scrub your container at least once a week with hot water and a brush.
Place your container or birdbath in a convenient spot, but not too close to shrubs where cats may hide. Do not set out birdfeeders within twenty feet of your water source.
Cover serves to protect birds from weather and predators, and also forms the foundation for nesting sites, sleeping and feeding areas, and traveling lanes.
Leave as much dead plant material as possible on the land. Fallen limbs and leaves, brush and stick piles provide shelter for many animals.
Plant dense shrubs, evergreens, and vine tangles for cover and protection.
Encourage natural cover around wet areas, ditch banks, hillsides, and highway median strips.
Create rock piles or stone walls for animals to seek shelter from rain and cats.
Don’t be too neat!
Finding adequate habitat to raise their young is becoming increasingly difficult for birds. A variety of nesting sites will benefit birds the most.
Trees are especially important for nesting. Birds nest both in the high canopy of large trees and in the middle branches of the understory layer. Choose trees and shrubs for different levels.
If possible, leave dead trees standing. Snags offer nest sites to a number of cavity-nesting birds from woodpeckers to owls.
Build and maintain nesting boxes for birds especially if you are missing dead trees.
Farmland Conservation Practices
After harvest, leave crop residue on the soil surface. This residue supports insects and seeds during the winter months.
Use integrated pest management systems. Establish permanent vegetative cover on steep hillsides for predator species to live. Rotate crops over several years to avoid pest species populations.
Postpone spring mowing as long as possible, avoid mowing at night, and make intervals between mowings as long as possible to give birds the best chance for successful nesting.
Establish undisturbed vegetation areas: leave corridors of shrubs and standing trees along fencerows and between fields.
Maintain and preserve wetlands, grasslands, and other varieties of vegetation in uncultivated areas.
Designate and register your land as a wildlife sanctuary. This sets a good example and encourages your neighbors and surrounding communities to provide for the birds and other wildlife in their areas.
Remember, saving a place for birds not only benefits all wildlife, but also provides future generations the enjoyable and unique opportunities to learn about the natural world.
Birding Adventures, Inc.