Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Category: Birds and Wildlife (page 2 of 5)

How to give wildlife fresh, unfrozen water in winter

With the onset of truly cold weather now, with snow on the ground that sticks around, water is pretty much everywhere – in solid or powdered form. That makes it hard for our furry and feathered friends to get enough to drink. In fact, in winter, birds can suffer even more from lack of water than from lack of food. Today I’m going to show you just how easy it is to help your backyard wildlife friends get the water they need,

Don’t feel guilty that this might not have occurred to you yet. I’ve provided my house sparrows and their wild friends a wonderful backyard habitat with a pond for water (the kind of space which Rewilding can help you provide and certify for wildlife), but after November, it’s frozen. It took me years to finally give them this basic need in winter.

Until one day, I had the brilliant idea of how to do so with things I had on hand, in under 5 minutes (once all objects were located). And when you read to the bottom of this post, you’ll know why this is very timely, indeed! 

DIY Heated Watering Bowl instructions

All it requires is what you see in the cover photo (as described below): Continue reading

This is a very short and sweet post about attracting wildlife.10 Cool Ways To Attract Endless Wildlife To Your Backyard! They have bee hotels, bird houses, bird baths, bat houses, and bottle feeders. I’m going to implement at least one project from it.

I actually have made the wine bottle bird feeder. The birds love it.

How to stop killing birds with your windows – resources for you

Window crashes, also known as strikes, kill millions of birds every migration. While I was in Toronto this week, I saw a newly constructed glass building in the new West Don Lands area that used bird-friendly glass, with dots impregnated into the glass every 8-10 cm (ideally, every 5 cm).  Birds need to see that the reflective glass is not “air to fly through,” so interruptions or obstructions in the reflected light are necessary. This post has a few links to retrofitting windows, but the standard to bird-friendly architecture – do it by default! – is here:  Bird-Friendly Building Design – American Bird Conservancy.

Though we need to carry out this design everywhere, Toronto bylaws require it. Toronto is in the middle of a flyway. There is a push to make bird-friendly design a provincial or general building standard, but it’s only beginning, with all the (energy-expending) glass buildings being constructed, almost as if in a rush before the standard is in place.

Here is a guide on bird-friendly retrofitting your windows:
https://abcbirds.org/get-involved/bird-smart-glass/

And a ready-made solution you can order online and install in little time, from Santa Rosa National, is two rods with brackets and fishing filament between them, at intervals the birds can see – and you can’t.

It amounts to using visual cues, mainly dots, decals, strings, and UV solution, at frequent intervals across the window so that the bird can see it. (And if you have trouble installing it yourself, I will help you.)

Here is a guide about what DOES NOT work:
http://safewings.ca/strategies/what-does-not-work/

American readers, you can support Audubon and the push to standardize bird-friendly building measures and standards in this action alert for the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act. Building collisions kill millions of birds each year. A new bill would help reduce deadly collisions, by incorporating bird-safe building materials and design features into federal buildings.

Also, from the Audubon Society on Twitter: 

More about the West Don Lands mentioned above: the Corktown Common park was a joy to visit. It has a constructed wetland that they seeded well with native species. It has reeds, duckweed, and native water fleur-de-lys, making it a wonderful habitat for birds. I only wish it were larger, but that it is so accessible to wandering humans means they have a chance to see nature they won’t otherwise see. That may whet their appetite for the real thing.

Continue reading

Why you should make your chimney available to Chimney Swifts

When the winter hearth fires are soon put out until next autumn comes, this article, how to make your chimney a home for chimney swifts, is an inspiration to an urban wildlife lover (click the link for a 6-minute read). Note: a chimney swift is a bird, an aerial insectivore. Not a dusty child from a Charles Dickens novel!

The key point is if your chimney is not lined with a metal tube, you’re in luck! You could host some chimney swifts. Their numbers have dwindled and habitat has declined, but with an open-sided chimney cap and a good cleaning of your chimney, you could take part in boosting their numbers now!

At Le Nichoir, where I have volunteered in the past, they have an aviary for rehab and a habitat for healthy chimney swifts. As I later found out, Hurricane Wilma in 2005 decimated Quebec’s population of chimney swifts. Their population still needs help. Continue reading

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