Little Things Add Up to Help Birds


BirdCast  Bird migration forecast maps

Twice each year, many of our favorite songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl species migrate between breeding grounds and wintering grounds. Peak spring migration for Minnesota is May 1 through May 15, but it can start as early as March for some species. Fall migration generally begins mid-August and lasts through mid-November.

Upwards of 80% of migratory birds travel at night. They rest and refuel during the day. There are several threats to birds during migration including loss of habitat for resting and refueling, inclement weather (severe storms), predators, light pollution, and collisions with buildings.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), annual bird mortality from window collisions kills between 10 million and 1 billion birds annually in the US, most collide with homes. We, as backyard conservationists, can help by 1) creating a patch of habitat for resting and refueling, 2) reducing window collisions, and 3) reducing light pollution.

1) Create a patch of habitat for resting and refueling offering seed, suet, and clean water.

  • Offer fresh seed in safe, clean bird feeders.
  • Offer a clean water source year-round.
  • Avoid pesticides.
  • Create a brush pile for shelter.
  • Leave the leaves.

2) Reduce window strikes. 

Birds cannot see glass. In fact, the reflection of plants and open sky on glass can be deceptive to birds. How can we help prevent or reduce collisions at home?

  • Apply non-toxic tempera paint to your windows—a family art project.
  • Hang “Zen curtains,” which are paracord pieces hung outside from above every 4” across the window.
  • Apply Window Gems: prismatic anti-bird strike decals that are effective, moveable, reusable, and nonfading.
    This new product at All Seasons Wild Bird Store is a vinyl cling that goes on the outside of windows. It breaks up the reflection of the window, providing a visual cue to birds that the window is not a continuation of their outdoor space—thus preventing window collisions. The product has prismatic material that refracts the light, providing birds with shifting color cues as they approach.


3) Reduce light pollution.
We, as backyard conservationists, can reduce our own light pollution by participating in “Lights Out,” which is a national campaign created by the National Audubon Society to provide safe passage for night-migrating birds. It’s as easy as flipping a switch.

  • Use motion detectors whenever possible.
  • Avoid strobe lights completely.
  • Avoid flood lights whenever possible.
  • Turn off exterior lights during peak migration periods.
  • Pull drapes closed at night to shield light out.
  • Use dimmers.
  • Use a lamp shield to direct light down.

By Eagan Store Manager Ann McCarthy