10 Tips to Help Birds on Hot Summer Days
Before you Comment, take a moment to review our guidelines!
1. Leave baby birds alone.
If you find a baby bird out of its nest, don’t pick it up or bring it indoors. In almost all cases, the parents are nearby and know best how to care for their young. An exception are injured birds, which can be taken to a local wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.
2. Ensure dogs and cats stay away from young birds.
If you have an outdoor cat, make sure he has a collar with ID (for your cat’s safety) and a bell to warn birds of his presence. 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. Stay away from pesticides.
Many home and garden products include neonicotinoids, 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.
7. Ban balloons.
Birds can become entangled in the long ribbons, and may ingest the deflated balloon, which blocks the digestive tract and causes the bird to starve.
8. Turn the outdoor lights out.
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. You can 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?
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 non-lead fishing gear. Scores of birds suffer mortal poisoning from ingesting lead weights in fishing gear.
Have other tips? Let us know, and we’ll add them!