The Year of the Bird

Here are a few reminders from Park Watershed on how to welcome our migratory birds back for a successful breeding and nesting season!

This year has been declared “The Year of the Bird” by the National Geographic Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Birdlife International. Hartford is a member of the Urban Bird Treaty  which is celebrating 100 years since its inception as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.   Urban adaptive migratory birds seek food and nesting sites in city parks, backyards, and along stream corridors. City parks, school grounds and backyards can be modified to support urban birds in the following ways:

  • Keep cats inside or within an enclosed cat patio. Domestic cats instinctively prey on birds. Research indicates that cats kill between 1.3 and 3.7 billion birds across the continental United States every year. The massive bird mortality caused by domestic cats and feral cat colonies has become a global crisis. Products such as broad shiny collars might warn birds to fly away, but nesting birds sitting on eggs and hatchlings will not escape. Please keep cats inside – or within an enclosed cat patio to protect them from diseases, being hit by cars, engaged in fights, or being predated themselves.
  • Stay away from nests, chicks and fragile juvenile birds. If you find a nest with eggs, or baby birds – leave the birds and nest alone, keep cats, dogs and curious children away. If juvenile birds are left alone, parent birds following nearby, will return to nurture their young.
  • No pesticides or poisons. Native plants host native insects, eggs and larvae that mature during bird migration. Birds feed on insects, and so reduce yard and garden bugs without pesticides. Lawn pesticides also negatively impact the health of dogs and children.
  • Native plant diversity provides the appropriate seasonal food resources for native birds. Mature forests and wetland meadows found in parks and along stream corridors are critical resting and nesting sites for migrants, like the Baltimore Orioles that nest in Keney Park.
  • Clean Water – A regularly cleaned fountain or shallow bird bath, especially during drought.

Tips for other spring wildlife migration and nesting activities: Amphibians and reptiles emerge from hibernation to nest in the spring as well. In May, female turtles inch across landscapes fragmented by roads and buildings to return to native nesting sites. Turtles, especially snapping turtles, can be dangerous. To prevent collisions and traffic problems approach turtles from behind, lift the turtle by gripping the back of the shell. Do not lift by the tail, and do not overturn turtles. Move turtles across roadways in the direction that the turtles was headed towards. Most turtles in the Northeast Region are legally protected species of conservation concern and include some species with state or federal designations as endangered or threatened species. Turtles are not to be removed from their natural habitat, which could be a park.

When in doubt, call Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) (860) 424-3000, or visit the Ct DEEP website here.  To learn more about the Park Watershed and how to get involved in bird conservation, visit their website here or visit their Facebook page for events.

(Language and images courtesy of Park Watershed.)

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