How can you help those sweet bees and chirpy birdies….

The Birds and Bees

The Bees:

Since the cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD) is still being debated by bee keepers, researchers, and scientists we unfortunately can do little to help with the solution.? However, we do know when these kind of crises occur, it is always the small scale operations that are hit the hardest.

So, what can you do?? Support small, local bee keepers by purchasing their products.

The Birds:

We do know the causes (and there are quite a few) of the sharp decline of common backyard birds and fortunately we are able to still act to help.? The best overall resource is the National Audubon Society.? They are a terrific organization that has been around in one form or another since the 1800′s.? This is a list of things you can do straight from their site:

Protect Local Habitat
Join local Audubon Chapters and other groups to protect and restore habitats close to home. Audubon’s Important Bird Areas program offers opportunities to save critical bird habitat, from small land parcels to broad landscapes.

Promote Sound Agricultural Policy
This has enormous impact on grassland birds and habitat. Promoting strong conservation provisions in the federal Farm Bill and Conservation Reserve Program can help to protect millions of acres of vital habitat.

Support Sustainable Forests
The Boreal Forest in the Northern U.S. and Canada is essential breeding territory for many species of birds. Federal and state legislations promoting sustainable forest management will help fight habitat loss from inappropriate logging, mining, and drilling.

Protect Wetlands
Support for local, state and federal wetlands conservation programs is essential to protect a wide array of species. Learn more.

Fight Global Warming
Declining birds populations is just one impact of global warming’s mounting threat to people and wildlife around the world. Individual energy conservation along with strong federal, state, and local legislation to cap greenhouse emissions can help to curb its worst consequences. Learn more.

Combat Invasive Species
Invasive non-native species disrupt the delicate ecological balance that sustains birds and other wildlife. Federal, regional, state, and local regulations are needed to combat this growing environmental threat. Learn more. The Audubon At Home program also offers tips for supporting birds with native plants.

The Audubon Society also has a page called Healthy Yard.? It is a great interactive picture that allows you to hover over aspects of it, such as the bird feeder and click through to find out more information, such as:

In the United States, 54 million people FEED BIRDS around their home. Tens of thousands participate in citizen science projects, conducting bird censuses in their own backyards to help ornithologists track population trends.

I found it very accessible and helpful.? It is also a great activity that you can do with your kids and then together you can pick a project to work on.? Encouraging your kids to be informed and be a part of the solution empowers them and teaches them to be actively involved in the world.? If you are looking for more birding activities to do with your children, the Audobon Society has a space on their site dedicated to children’s education.

In addition to/with emphasis on here are my own tips to keeping those crazy birds around:

  1. Condensed urban living is the way to go to combat urban sprawl.? The less land we bulldoze, cover with cement, lots of houses, and perfectly manicured lawns the better.
  2. SHARE.? Whether you live in a house or an apartment transform your yard or the area surrounding your apartment into a healthy living space for birds and other animals (again I will point you to Audubon’s Healthy Yard).? Remember that much of being a good steward and being a part of a healthy ecosystem means having biological diversity within our shared space.? It is not OK or healthy to move into a habitat once occupied by many species and transforming it into a controlled and sterile environment.? So, make room for the birds and other creatures.? We can have our space and they theirs.
  3. Do a little research on what birds are native to your area (look online or check a book out of the library).? They buy or make a bird feeder filled with food for those birds.? It is important that you keep your bird full of clean food.? Birds will come to depend on this food, especially in the winter, so please keep it stocked.? Also, do not feed birds moldy bread or seeds, this will make birds sick when they eat it and try to get or make a squirrel proof feeder.? As a side note, if you do the research of birds in your area with your kids they can begin to look out for those birds.? Encourage them to draw the birds, their feathers, the eggs, what kind of nests they have, and even what they eat.? Some kids may even want to keep a journal recording their bird encounters.

A few resources:

Books

Feeding Our Feathered Friends by Dean T. Spaulding

The Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible by Sally Roth

Make Your Own Bird Houses and Feeders by Robyn Haus

Sites

Important Bird Areas Program

Audubon At Home

The Crafty Crow: Feed the Birds and Wild Bird Treats

Mongabay

Birds in Backyards

Mary’s View

Make and Craft have a lot of tutorials on making your own bird feeder

Build A Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder for Under $10

  • Seth

    Thanks Mollie…I always feel overwhelmed by these issues and end up doing nothing. It’s great to get some practical advise on how to make a difference.
    Quick question…my girlfriend is crazy and doesn’t like honey, are there other “products” I could purchase from local bee keepers?

    - Seth

  • Mollie

    Seth,

    Well, is your crazy girlfriend a candle lover? I have a feeling she is a candle FREAK. ;) Many bee keepers sell beeswax candles, soap, and even lotion. Lots of pampery goodies.

    Tell my sister “hi”!

  • Seth

    Haha…she is indeed. That sounds awesome…thanks!

    - Seth

  • Kathryn

    Mollie,

    I really enjoyed reading this post (and the comments). I think we are going to make a bird feeder this weekend. Keep up the great advice!

  • Margaret

    This is a super post Mollie. The Audubon website will delight my little 5 and 6 year old students. I am always searching for fun and interesting educational websites. Thanks.

  • Kathryn

    The birds have gone crazy over here after we put up a feeder. I love Larry!

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