Big City, Little Homestead

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

Category: Biophilia (page 1 of 3)

DIY: easy Acopian Bird Savers for apartment dwellers and 2nd floor windows

Acopian Bird Savers are a relatively inconspicuous (visible, but not unsightly) way to prevent bird crashes, guaranteed. They’re a light curtain of strings that wave in the wind, in front of your windows – so birds don’t mistake them for trees or sky.

They have a Build-Your-Own tutorial on their website; if you need a more custom solution or just want the materials done right from the get-go, you can order it from them online.

It’s fairly easy apply decals and UV liquid (remember, only useful for some bird species, not all!) by leaning outside and doing it, but the real fix — Feather Friendly — requires access and time to apply it properly. Feather Friendly is probably the most effective solution out there, and it’s meant to last. It’s easy to apply when you live on the ground floor, but not at higher floors. But higher floors still need effective protection.

That means many apartment dwellers and homeowners who don’t have access to an extension ladder might find it troublesome to prevent birds from crashing into windows. (And because they don’t notice the crashes, they doubt they occur.)

I wrote this to help people who either have casement windows or modern sash-hung windows where you can tip the window inward in order to clean it. You need to be able to access the top of the frame of the window on the outside. Also, this DIY fix is affordable, and as it’s not a permanent alteration to the dwelling, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to use them.

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Sugar ants aren’t pests – they’re harmless and helpful!

Photo caption: A legion (hah, get it  – not army, but part thereof!) of sugar ants committed mass suicide in my bottle of honey. In honour of those that might resurrect – I can see some of them will – I pooled it in the sink and gave them a chance to extract themselves (sugar ants are resilient to injury). A few less foolhardy brothers and sisters are supping from the edges.

People don’t know what to make of the teeny-tiny ants that march indoors like school children on spring and summer days (when they should be outside!). They can’t be mistaken for carpenter ants. But, like the many other species that aren’t carpenter ants, all searches end up on results about killing them. As if they were as dangerous as carpenter ants. Carpenter ants won’t hurt you, but their infestations are dangerous to your house – they devour wood.  

Common talk, mass media, and the extermination industry has effectively enabled people to think that insects are disgusting and undesirable. We know this is just flat-out wrongheadedness. All it takes to realize that bugs aren’t your enemy is to observe them objectively, and if that isn’t enough, it always helps to do a little research.

Of course, when you try to do some research, you have to get past the “get rid of” them websites. The truth takes lot more digging. So that’s what this blog post is about.

Tapinoma sessile is the name of this kind of ant. Here’s the path I took:

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How can you protect birds during nesting season? (Short answer: don’t cut trees). And, BirdFest.

Migration is pretty much over now, and all birds are where they want to be if they’re sitting on eggs in a nest, or raising a clutch of nestlings. It might give us an opportunity to have a peep into their nest boxes and niches and see them raise their babies (mostly by web-cam — something we all love!), but it doesn’t mean the dangers they face are completely over. There are still things to watch out for in the city…

Tree Felling During Nesting Season

Every spring, members of my local birding club notice incidents of tree cutting and felling in and around Montreal during this period, when birds are nesting. Even trained ornithologists have difficulty locating nests, so we’re concerned that these activities may harm or even be fatal. People need to proactively protect nesting birds, and not assume anything.

Perhaps making matters worse is that while tree felling is an activity a homeowner needs a permit for, the permit process might not take into account the time of the felling  – and the businesses that fell trees, like landscaping services, don’t need to have a license from the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec. We can’t know whether having a license would necessarily help birds, but it’s at least one reliable avenue for educating contractors.

What can you do if you witness tree felling during nesting season in your neighbourhood? One or all of the following:

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Visiting one of the last remaining urban wetlands – the Technoparc

Two weekends ago, I participated in the Good Friday Migration to save the Technoparc Wetlands. Read more about it – and see the French-language Pimento Report on YouTube (embedded) here.

With this post, I wanted to mention to readers that I’ve got a new pop-up to subscribe to my email list. See a similar box at the bottom of this post for more details.

I’ve been draggin’ my heels on writing this post ever since, for a false reason. I’ve been making it a bigger deal of writing a blog post than in than the writing actually is, because the issue is a bigger deal than most people realize. So I might say something controversial, but seems clear enough for someone to say.

Part of the game of development is “build it and they’ll come.” There’s no big influx (except if it’s downtown – proper brownfield building development!) but in the meantime, the first occupants will pay for servicing the building and the taxes. Though this is just kicking the can down the road, cities sees that new development, that new tax base as proof of … something usually vanity-related, and a revenue base for existing services. In time, because there’s no incentive for municipalities to forego development without a large NIMBY crowd, their services:tax base ratio will get skewed again. Development sure looks like a Ponzi scheme.

This is the view of the park from overhead, from the south.

Situated in this tension, with no voice but for those who speak up in time, is nature, where the birds carry on with their nestlings like they always have, only the conditions are less and less optimal while development games are played to make them unwelcome. Continue reading

Older posts

Rewilding is about converting your lawn to groundcover (bit by bit!) to native species. This fosters biodiversity. It also creates habitat for urban wildlife. Finally, you'll only trim it 2-3 times per season rather than every 7-10 days!

The green driveway gallery shows you how you can DIY a driveway conversation using my first model as an example. There are other ways to do it, and things I learned in the process and afterward. Please call me at 514-815-5163 for my landscaping service, or to discuss upgrading your driveway.

The work season is April 1st through June 30th, but I install bird strike prevention (to stop birds from crashing into windows and glass balconies) whenever the temperature is above 5ºC. Call the number above or email. It's important to do this earlier rather than later,  in time for bird migrations in late April to end of May, and late August to mid-October.


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