Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

Category: Birds and Wildlife (page 3 of 7)

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. 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 birds have always faced. I’m sure that most are 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. They need it. The cat’s just playing. (So put a BirdBeSafe clown collar on kitty!)

In every city, Continue reading

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 curated list about attracting wildlife: 10 Cool Ways To Attract Endless Wildlife To Your Backyard! 

Here’s a list of the ideas you can find in the article (I won’t replicate the article, but I will star ⭐️ the ones I’d like to do myself, and then I’ll link to them when I’m done):

  • Build a bug and bee hotel (two versions in this article, both bigger and better than my Mason bee house)
  • Make a worm hotel – a terrarium; this isn’t an “attraction” project, but a weekend activity so that children can witness what worms do in the soil
  • Make a butterfly feeder ⭐️ (I’ll do this whenever there are many butterflies around, like the painted lady eruption Montreal had in 2017)
  • Build a Colonial-style bird house ⭐️ (very ambitious!)
  • Tutorials on how to attract ladybugs (basically: do what I do, and don’t forget roses, too!), hummingbirds, or frogs to your garden (you will need proximity to wood and wetland for them to make their way to you)
  • Make a bat house ⭐️
  • Make a wine bottle bird feeder. I actually have using a cheese grater from IKEA as the dish; it drains rainwater to keep the seed dry, and the birds love it. So do the squirrels, so I rarely fill the bottle. They know how to empty it!
A little Chipping sparrow, using the feeder in June 2019

How to stop killing birds with your windows – bird crash prevention!

Window crashes, also known as bird strikes, kill millions of birds with *every* migration. You might not think it happens to you, but it does. And we can stop it.

When 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, though, it should be 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.

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. It whets the appetite for the real thing.

I saw a nesting red-wing blackbird that was feeding his young ones. Or, more like, I saw him arrive with food, heard the cacophony of chirps, and then saw him fly off to get more.

On the walk to the park, we also saw a lone swan nesting, or resting, by the viaduct. It was strange to see that in a “no-man’s-land” off the eastern part of downtown, but as always, it was welcome.

Though we need to carry out bird-friendly design (and leaving some places alone to be wild) everywhere, Toronto bylaws require bird crash prevention – new buildings need to have bird-friendly glass. Toronto is in the middle of a flyway. Vancouver, too, has a new standard, as reported in Canadian Wildlife Magazine:

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