Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Month: May 2017

A link about (or from?) our friendly feathered friends – a water feature will always attract wildlife and insect (pollinators as much as mosquitos – clean out the bird bath regularly). Here’s how you can make a simple bird bath.

via How to Make a Birdbath | Audubon

Plants for Birds – a garden planning resource

Are you getting ready to plan your garden? If so, here’s a find! While its integration with local merchants doesn’t apply to Canadian gardeners (as we wouldn’t be able to shop and bring plants back across the border), we share some of the same Zones as the northern states (for example, Montreal is in Zone 5). As a Native Plants database cross-referenced with birds that enjoy those plants, it’s great research for making decisions — that migrating birds can then benefit from, as they pass through.

How to use it:

You have to enter your email address and a US zip code. Montreal is closest to Champlain, NY, so I looked it up at https://www.unitedstateszipcodes.org: 12919.

(Entering your details gives you direct access to the database, no need for a subscription confirmation.)

Armed with plant ideas and information (from all the pretty pictures!), we can then enquire at local nurseries, plan, and plant.

What’s one thing you can do today to help birds? Grow bird-friendly plants!

The Audubon Society launched a website called “Plants for Birds” that helps American gardeners find plants in their area that will encourage birds to visit and stay awhile. Click the pictures to be taken to the site.

Birds, in order: male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-throated Blue Warbler, American Goldfinch, female Ruby-throated Hummingbird,

Source: Plants for Birds

Spring migration is underway – and it’s dangerous

The other day, I watched a documentary by New Hampshire Public Television on bird migration. I learned a few startling facts about habitat loss and other pressures that decimate bird populations, but most alarming of all was that their mortality while migrating is as high as 85%. I doubt that is due to hurricanes and low seasonal food, though these are real risks that the birds have always faced. I’m sure that the majority is due to human activity:

  • Building and tower lights on at night throwing birds off course, exhausting and killing them. Birds migrate at night, and the light of the moon used to guide them. Now, our overlit cities and buildings misguide them.
  • Critical habitat loss on migration routes. Birds need to land and feed and stay according to the season and weather, before proceeding north (or south) again.
  • Bird strikes on power and cellular telephone infrastructure – wires and towers, and not just those of wind turbines.
  • Bird strikes on buildings, now more than ever – read Glass architecture is killing millions of migratory birds.
  • And the grand winner: Our pet and feral cats are the biggest killers by far. Do not underestimate the carnage that any sweet kitty causes. It’s not good fun. If you absolutely insist – you’re wrong, but still – on putting your cat outdoors, do it only at night, when birds are in flight. During the day they need to come down and search for food, water, and rest.

In every city, Continue reading