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Make Your Yard More Bird-Friendly


When people think of the suburbs, they think of a place that’s not very good for biological diversity. but what we found is that it is really a rich place you get a greater richness of bird species in the suburbs than in the deep core of the city, or even in the forests or other natural habitats that are nearby the suburbs. It’s an adult in 2010, so he’s 7 years old 7 year old male, that’s a good deal The suburban area, and really the urban area as well, is an ecosystem. We are part of that ecosystem. We are truly neighbors with the animals that share our yards Suburbs are a good bird habitat but to keep that diversity going and to enhance it there is a lot that we need to do There are really three general areas to consider when we want to make a bird friendly neighborhood. One of the first things we want to do is make the habitat in your yard more diverse and better suitable for birds. The most important way to do that is to reduce the amount of lawn area. The typical turf lawn is not used by many animals and certainly not used by animals for their full life cycle. Increasing the amount of natural shrub cover or even non-native shrubs is a better habitat for animals than the industrial lawn. In addition to reducing the lawn area in your yard, you should also provide food for the birds that will utilize this more diverse landscape that you’ve created. Maybe add a water feature to increase the use of that land by animals that need water In addition to providing food and water for the birds that live in your yard it is important to provide shelter Most people, when a tree dies they get rid of it, and a lot of animals need dead trees to roost in and to nest within, so providing these standing dead trees is a critical addition that we can make to a neighborhood. What we did was instead of waiting for nature to take its course and create a dead tree we sped up the process. You’ll see an arborist is cutting slots into the top of the tree little crevices for bats to crawl into in the coming summer, or perhaps for a Brown Creeper to sneak in and put its nest in. The second general area is dealing with the safety of the animals that are going to be living there Reducing the two primary sources of bird mortality involve keeping cats inside, they’re the number 1 killer of birds. The other major source of mortality is collisions with windows so making those visible to birds, ultra violet reflective films or stickers are probably the easiest way. The third general area is the human engagement with those animals. The really important thing is to try to engage those animals and enjoy them and wonder about them and get your kids and your neighbors to share that passion that you might have for those animals Some people when they feed birds they have extraordinary interactions with these birds in particular, some of the larger social long live birds like the American Crow tend to form very personal bonds with individuals. In some cases, these crows actually leave gifts for these people that routinely feed them little trinkets, little lockets from bracelets or weird pieces of metal. Building a connection with nature in your own yard, as simple as it may be, hopefully builds a broader environmental ethic and a love of nature, that I hope would allow people to make the sacrifices that are necessary to set aside big pieces of wild land where the animals that don’t live with us can also thrive.

19 Comments

  1. kathleen dalton Author

    I removed all my front lawn and planted native wildflowers for birds and butterflies. When a tree blew down I left the dead trunk and within a day I had a pileated woodpecker.

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  2. Tr3nta Author

    I dont think those stickers work, we have a local gym with big windows almost completely covered in black stickers of crows and swallows and a bird just hit it real hard and smashed its head, he was flying very fast right against it.

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  3. Dudley Edmondson Author

    I lived in a suburban neighborhood and I’ve been landscaping my yard for wildlife for over 25 years now. I have had some incredible interactions with birds over the years. I spent the entirety of the summer of 2017 building a backyard garden room with the sole purpose of being able to observe animal behavior I’ve yet to witness on my small property. Nature is truly fascinating

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  4. Man Tis Author

    I liked everything you said except you didn’t mention using native plants from your eco type because they support the most insect life especially caterpillars which are essential for baby birds. Native shrubbery is far better then non-native shrubs which have the potential to be invasive like burning bush that have little wildlife value.

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  5. Callaway Rowe Author

    I have a question.
    Where we live, there are lots of European starlings and not many red bellied woodpeckers. There are enough dead trees for the woodpeckers, but starlings seem to steal the nest every time. How do the woodpeckers ever get to breed? The starlings even seem to penetrate the wooded areas.

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  6. C Davis Author

    I noticed a Hummingbird at my old, red Folgers coffee can that I use to water my container vegetables in August so I put out a couple of nectar feeders. I eventually realized our massive Rose of Sharon bush was attracting them. I now have at least 10 Hummers and Butterflies that I have never seen before that sip nectar from the feeders & bush. We enjoyed watching them so much, my husband purchased two wild bird feeders and a squirrel feeder and eventually bought a garden water fountain that our critters use throughout the day!! We have delightful Hummers that spend the day dive bombing each other & Chickadees, Bluebirds, Cardinals, Wrens (+ other birds that I haven't identified), 8 Squirrels and 2 Chipmunks that spend a good part of their day in our backyard. We also have two Poms that are really quick so I have to knock on my window to warn our wildlife visitors before I let out my two Tasmanian Devils that insist on reclaiming their backyard! Lol! I can't believe how much I enjoy sitting in my backyard since we've added the feeders.

    My husband has already purchased wood to make a few birdhouses and our next project will be a small fire pit so we can keep warm while watching wintering wildlife in South Georgia. We live in a neighborhood with older homes that have lots of huge, old trees & Wisteria for cute little critters hide in (:

    BTW: I intend to sow wildflower seeds this fall to make our backyard even more attractive to wildlife visitors.

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  7. D Author

    AMAZING video. Thank you for all that you do to help these beautiful creatures but most importantly, to help educate people. I own several bird feeders and think of all the birds and squirrels that visit every day as my family. Sooooo rewarding to say the least.

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  8. Vic64Y Author

    IMPORTANT WARNING FOR PET BIRD OWNERS: The food that we normally give to the canaries (and other companion birds) consisting of a "complete, balanced and top-quality seeds mixture" bought in pet stores or malls, makes the owners trust that their pet is well fed, but it's not so: indeed the birds health is at serious risk.

    The owners of canaries, parrots, cockatoos, budgies, cockatiels, etc., WE MUST PAY ATTENTION TO DOMESTIC BIRD BREEDERS AND VETS and keep in mind that although we feed them with such a typical seeds mixture, our birds are very likely in danger of suffering an unexpected, painful and practically inevitable PREMATURE DEATH BY FATTY LIVER DISEASE. Canaries, for example, will surely die at 4 – 7 years of age of the more than 14 that they can live.

    It's sad that pet birds are fated to die early and painfully in so many cases. You have to warn people to avoid it!

    This deadly disease is very common in pet birds but owners usually don’t know or detect it in time. And we can’t imagine that THE CAUSE IS IN THE FOOD ITSELF that we provide to our birds, in which such a typical mixture contains low-fat seeds such as canary seed together with other VERY fatty seeds such as niger, hemp or nabine and, in addition, the birds usually prefer to eat the fatty seeds so that their REAL DIET is unbalanced by excessive fat, gradually causes the fatty infiltration of the liver and in a few years causes fatty liver hepatitis and PREMATURE DEATH to pet birds.

    Also the fruits and specially the breeding paste and its pigments and the SUNFLOWER SEEDS can attack the liver if they are taken too much or for too long.

    It's a cruel disease that progresses silently and, when its unexpected symptoms begin, they are easily confused with other ailments so the owners usually postpone the visit to the vet at a time already critical for the life of the bird (besides that not all vets are trained to recognize this elusive and misleading disease, even to administer lipotropic and regenerative liver protectors in curative doses, just in case it's that and not a supposed blow). It's a process of slow and asymptomatic progression, but when their visible symptoms begin (acute phase) the disease accelerates.

    SYMPTOMS OF THE ACUTE PHASE OF FATTY LIVER DISEASE: First, progressive sadness and/or pecking, hard belly (in many cases, with a dark spot with a half-moon shape on the belly, which seems a "tumor", to see it you have to wet your fingers to remove the down), falls from the sticks of the cage that seem for "errors of calculation" and then lameness (that make believe that they are by the previous falls, but both symptoms are due to that it hurts the liver), lack of flight and singing, the bird fluffs up his feathers or bends more or less slowly; Then, within a few weeks or a few days, heavy breathing with open beak, remaining lying on the floor of the cage near the food, sudden spasms from time to time (which make people believe that the bird is "epileptic" but it are twinges of pain of diseased liver), abundant greenish poop (caused by biliverdin which if it's not fasting, it means hepatic harm), then black and watery (from hepatic hemorrhages), then a strange purplish color of skin and beak, an excessive appetite and the final "improvement" of a few days (in the last phase, the already degenerated liver becomes deflated by what the bird seems to ameliorate), after which it suddenly dies among seizures (which may seem a heart infarct).

    For the first symptoms the liver has already degenerated to 80% and only an urgent (and accurate) vet action can save your bird and revert the liver situation. If you simply feed your bird with the loose seeds mixture (even if you give it fresh fruits, vegetables and let it exercise, for example by letting it out of the cage at home), right now your pet's liver is degenerating, and neither you nor your bird know. Without liver protectors, it's almost certain that your bird will die early and in many cases you won’t be able to determine its real cause.

    Hepatic lipidosis it's not only deadly by itself when the visible symptoms begin (sometimes even it does not warn at all until few moments before the death). Even before the acute phase it predisposes the bird to suffer infections, as it weakens the immune system. Obese pet birds have an higher risk of many other diseases, like arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Obesity in birds it's not so apparent but it's more dangerous than in other animals like mammals.

    So in addition to giving to the birds lipotropic and detox / regenerating hepatic protectors preventively and routinely, breeders usually make their own mixtures with low fat seeds.

    PREVENTION AND/OR TREATMENT: The time to act is NOW that your bird doesn’t have yet the visible symptoms. It's necessary to ACTIVELY PREVENT THE LIVER DEGENERATION. Fortunately it's easy to do it: It's very advisable to substitute progressively (within some weeks, as per the instructions of the manufacturer) the mixture of loose seeds for some pellets compound food of seeds, fruits and vegetables (preferably those that already include liver protectors), because this prevents the bird from filtering and eating mostly the fatty seeds (but without insisting if the bird does not get accustomed to eating pellets because he could die for starvation within a few days).

    And, whatever the diet, it's CRUCIAL to add to the drinking water or to the food a LIPOTROPIC LIVER PROTECTOR that includes carnitine and / or choline, betaine, methionine, etc., (and it's very convenient to add a DETOX / REGENERATING LIVER PROTECTOR with thistle milk, boldo, artichoke extract).

    Liver protectors are not medicine but cheap food supplements manufactured by pet bird vet laboratories that remove the fat from the liver, clean it and favor its recovery. It's essential to add them to the pet birds diet to conserve their liver. It's something that breeders and vets know, but we the owners usually don't know.

    It are appearing in the market compound feed for pet birds that don’t include fatty seeds and that already include several liver protectors. But the vast majority of owners still confidently feed their birds with the typical mixture of loose seeds with little fat and other very fatty seeds… And their birds continue dying for hepatic lipidosis in a large number of cases (likely, in most cases). Now we know that, as fatty liver disease develops from the daily food itself, it’s most likely THE FIRST CAUSE OF DEATH OF PET BIRDS, and more so as the bird ages.

    Webs on FLD:

    https://www.beautyofbirds.com/liverdisease.html
    Liver disease is a slow, on-going progressive disease where the liver tissue is replaced with fat. When the liver disease has progressed, the bird may suddenly appear ill.

    https://www.lovinghands.com/forms/Hepatic%20Lipidosis%20-%20Fatty%20Liver%20Disease.pdf One of the sadder diseases many avian vets see is that of hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease. It's sad in a number of ways since often the birds are very ill, life-threateningly so, or possibly having died suddenly. Often the owners have been unaware of the dangers of feeding their beloved pet the seeds, peanuts, or other fatty foods the bird obviously loves to eat. These are truly cases of "loving your bird to death". Any bird can fall victim to fatty liver disease.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/46105643_Treating_liver_disease_in_the_avian_patient Dietary deficiencies of lipotrophic factors such as choline, biotin, and methionine may decrease the transport of lipids from the liver.

    http://www.veterinaria.org/revistas/redvet/n111110B/111004B.pdf The clinical manifestations of hepatic diseases in ornamental birds are much more frequent than people could imagine and in many cases they are not appreciated, progress in a silent way and when they are evident, vet action may arrive late.

    Most any avian symptomatology should be considered as if it was a pathology that could be serious, and not allow the disease to develop because then it will probably be too late. We must closely investigate the symptoms, take preventive measures that don’t harm (such as giving liver and intestinal protectors according to the leaflet) ask for advice from vets, breeders, etc. and procure the most appropriate treatment RAPIDLY, but without rushing in the treatment or with the doses in such small animals. If the days go by and the bird doesn’t improve, it's necessary to continue investigating and, if necessary, change the medication in an informed and contrasted manner. Doing nothing or stopping research usually ends up with the bird dead, but acting without being sure of what is done and in what dose, it likely ends the same way. It's necessary to obtain and confirm the sufficient vet experience and have the serenity to determine in each case whether it's convenient to hasten to do and / or administer what medicine and in what dose, or if it’s better not to do and let the situation evolve without medicating for the time being, or according to the medication that has already been administered.

    A limp in a bird is not always an injury caused by a blow, but the symptom of a disease of some organ (usually the liver or an intestinal disease) that needs to be discovered and treated ASAP. When in doubt, change diet to one with the lowest fat possible (only birdseed, or with other low-fat seeds such as millet, chia and vegetables) and administer lipotropic and regenerating liver protectors in curative doses immediately… although nothing could foresee a fatal outcome. There are also food supplements protectors of the intestinal mucosa and stimulants of the immune system. In doses according to the leaflets do not cause damage, it will surely save the life of your bird (if it's not too late), and will keep them with a basic wellness.

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