Passerines, or songbirds as they are commonly referred to, are some of the most beautiful and observable wildlife that share our earth. They bring joy to our gardens and wild areas and leave us in awe as they dazzle us with their beauty and grace. Songbirds also provide valuable services to the ecosystems they inhabit and to humans by dispersing seeds, pollinating plants and consuming copious amounts of insects.
Sadly, populations of many species of songbirds are in decline throughout North America. Some declines are due to habitat loss on their breeding grounds or on their wintering grounds, some are the result of collisions with wind turbines and communication towers, and others are in decline due to pesticide use or changes in their habitat resulting from climate change. Whatever the cause for their decline, songbirds need our help now more than ever.
Each year Native Songbird Care & Conservation cares for hundreds of songbirds, from robins and wrens to swallows and swifts. The majority of our patients are received April through July, the peak of the breeding season, and most of them are brought to us because of an anthropogenic incident – human caused.
11 Simple Ways to Help Songbirds:
1) Keep cats indoors.
Outdoor cats are responsible for millions of songbird deaths in North America each year and are the leading reason songbirds are admitted to the
2) Don’t be a kidnapper.
If you find a baby bird that is not injured, please see the "I found a bird " page on our website or call us at
3) Reduce bird collisions.
Collisions with windows contribute to a significant number of songbird deaths each year. If you have a window that birds routinely or even occasionally hit, there are several techniques to help break up the reflection that birds mistake for a clear passage. Please visit the following websites for products and ideas:
4) Keep birdbaths and bird feeders clean and well maintained.
Dirty feeders can spread disease among your avian neighbors if you're not careful. Wet seed in the feeder can also be a health hazard for birds as the seed can grow mold and dangerous bacteria that makes birds sick. Lastly, if a cat is regularly hunting birds at your bird feeding station, take the feeder down or keep the cat indoors. It is unfair to lure the birds into a feeding station, only to be killed by a well-fed house cat.
5) Do not use glue traps for rodents, Tanglefoot or sticky flypaper strips.
When placed outdoors, these cruel devices and materials can and do entrap songbirds, usually resulting in death.
6) Avoid trimming trees and bushes during the breeding season, March through mid-September.
Songbirds conceal their nests very well, making them difficult to spot. Therefore, it is best not to risk displacing a nest of baby birds by accidentally trimming away branches that could be holding or concealing their home. For more information, download our Tree Trimming Guidelines.
7) Know the law.
All of our native birds are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and California Fish and Game code, sections 3503 and 3503.5. These laws make it illegal to possess, kill or harm native birds; or disturb their active nests.
8) Teach children to respect wildlife and to “look, not touch”.
Remind children that if they believe a wild bird is in need of human intervention, they should always ask a qualified adult for assistance first.
9) Plant a habitat garden.
Use native plants that provide food and shelter to our native songbirds. Don’t forget a water feature, such as a small pond or birdbath. For information about habitat gardening, please visit the National Wildlife Federation at http://www.nwf.org/. Also visit two excellent local native plant nurseries for plants and habitat plant lists:
CalFlora in Sonoma County: http://www.calfloranursery.com/
Mostly Natives in Marin County: http://www.mostlynatives.com/
10) Go Birding!
Birding is an excellent way to learn more about our beautiful songbirds and other avifauna. Local Audubon Society chapters throughout
11) Get involved at a local level.
Be aware of local conservation issues that affect native bird populations and their habitat. Participate in habitat restoration projects, creek clean-up activities, become a docent for a local park or environmental group, participate in a bird census or an annual Christmas Bird Count or become a volunteer at your local wildlife rehabilitation center.