Found a bird? 707-484-6502 8:30am to 5:30pm
Found a bird? 707-484-6502 8:30am to 5:30pm
Songbirds are some of the most beautiful and observable wildlife that share our earth. Their populations are in decline and they need our help now more than ever.
Songbirds 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.
Songbird populations of many species 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 windows or predation by free-roaming cats, and others are in decline due to pesticide use or changes in their environment 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 August, the peak of the breeding season, and most of them are brought to us because of an anthropogenic incident – human caused.
In a perfect world, our human activities wouldn’t come into conflict with wildlife, and songbirds could live freely without the worry of their homes being destroyed by chainsaws or their young killed by a free-roaming cat. However, life on earth with humans is a reality, so it’s up to us to reduce our impact on the natural world. If we are thoughtful and consider the needs and habits of our feathered neighbors, communities can work together to keep songbirds safe. Following are helpful tips to support native songbirds. Please do not hesitate to call or email us if you have any questions, or need advice about how to help the songbirds where you live.
Domestic cats are the largest source of direct, human-caused mortality to birds in the United States and kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year. Although this number may seem unbelievable, it represents the combined impact of tens of millions of outdoor cats. Cat attacks are the leading reason songbirds are admitted to our wildlife hospital. As non-native predators, free-roaming owned and feral cats have a devastating impact on our native wildlife and ecosystems. This problem is easily solved by making the responsible choice to contain cats indoors or in a cation. For more information about this conservation crisis and help in keeping cats safely contained, review this brochure and please visit the American Bird Conservancy.
Native plants are vital to helping our native songbirds thrive. Native plants provide essential food and shelter throughout the year for songbirds and other wildlife. Don’t forget a water feature, such as a small pond or birdbath. Learn more about the importance of native plants and Wildscaping for songbirds and other wildlife!
Collisions with windows kill nearly 1 billion birds in the US each year. If you have a window that birds frequently hit, or even occasionally, there are several techniques you can implement to help break up the reflection that birds mistake for clear passage. Download the Prevent Window Collisions brochure and please visit Fatal Light Awareness Project, Bird Savers, and Collide Escape for more information and help prevent collisions.
Light pollution is harmful to migratory songbirds. Songbirds that migrate at night use a variety of tools to navigate their journey, including moonlight and the stars. Artificial light interferes with those navigational tools and causes birds to wander off course and toward dangerous nighttime landscapes of cities. Every year millions of birds in the US die as they’re drawn into these nocturnal landscapes, become disoriented and collide with needlessly illuminated buildings and towers.
Migratory birds also depend on cues from properly timed seasonal schedules. Artificial lights can cause them to migrate too early or too late and miss ideal climate conditions for nesting, foraging and other behaviors. Artificial light also kills the food they need most - insects! Light pollution is a significant contributing factor in the global decline of insects.
The negative impacts of light pollution affect almost every ecosystem on Earth, including fish, nesting sea turtles, coral reefs, bats, plants, insects, and even humans. Here’s the good news: Light pollution is completely reversible. Learn how you can reduce light pollution at home and in your community!
There are risks and rewards when using birdfeeders to attract songbirds your backyard. Watching birds at the feeders can provide hours of enjoyment, but it feeding birds comes with responsibility. For the birds, a convenient meal at the feeder comes with significant risk.
Dirty unmaintained feeders can spread diseases, such as avian pox and salmonellosis, among your avian neighbors if you're not careful. Wet seed in the feeder can grow mold and dangerous bacteria that make birds sick. Feeders and spilled seed on the ground attracts rats and other nuisance wildlife, such as raccoons. Both species predate songbird nests during the breeding season.
Birdfeeders cause an unnatural number of birds to congegrate, which can lead to unnatural predation of songbirds by non-native predators, such as free-roaming cats, as well as native predators, such as hawks. If your birdfeeder is attracting the attention of predators, please remove the feeder. It is unfair to lure songbirds into an artificial feeding situation that puts their lives at risk.
We highly recommend planting native plants to attract and sustain native songbirds. If you're committed to using a birdfeeder, please see our Songbird Safe Bird-feeding Guidelines.
Please don't use sticky traps to control fly and rodent problems. When placed outdoors, these cruel devices can and do entrap songbirds, often resulting in death. Songbirds, especially parent birds working extra hard to find a meal during the breeding season, are attracted to the insects that accumulate on sticky fly traps and seeds used to bait sticky rat traps.
We understand flies can be vectors of disease and a serious problem for farm animals. If sticky fly traps are part of your barn's fly management plan, please safely contain the trap in a cylindrical cage made of 1/2-3/4" aviary or poultry wire. Suspend the trap in the center of the cage and close the top and bottom of the cage (like the top of a milk carton) to prevent birds from entering the wire cage. Hang the cage and trap as per usual using wire or baling twine. The flies will have no problem accessing the trap and the cage will keep the birds out.
See our Songbird-safe Rodent Control information for ways to manage rodent problems safely. If you're contemplating using snap traps, please NEVER place snap traps outdoors! Only use snap traps indoors where songbirds cannot access them.
Nesting season for songbirds in California begins February 15 and ends mid-September. Songbirds expend a tremendous amount of energy during the breeding season. They have to secure territory, attract a mate, find a place to nest, build the nest, lay and incubate the eggs, and then spend weeks feeding and caring for their young. They are masters at camouflaging their nests, making them very difficult to spot. Please don't risk displacing a nest of baby birds by accidentally trimming away branches that could be holding or concealing their home.
Our native songbirds, their active nests (containing eggs or chicks) and their young are protected by state and federal law. Please save trimming trees, intense pruning, and clearing brush for fall and winter when there is no risk of destroying an active nest. Review our Nesting Season page to learn more.
If emergency tree work is necessary during the nesting season, please work with your arborist and review these guidelines from our colleagues at Cavity Conservation Initiative.
If you find a baby bird that is not injured, please review the 'Found a Bird' page and text us at (707) 484-6502. We can help you assess the situation and determine whether it is doing what is natural for the age and species of the bird or if it is a legitimate orphan in need of human intervention.
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.
Without professional training and permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Fish and Wildlife Service, it is unlawful to possess a native bird, even if you intend to return it to the wild. If you find an injured, orphaned or ill songbird, please contact us or a permitted wildlife facility near you ASAP to ensure the animal receives proper medical care by a trained professional in a legally permitted facility.
Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. These insights inform conservation plans and key actions to protect birds and habitats. Find a project that’s right for you! There are many Citizen Science projects that help songbirds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has several on-going projects and National Audubon Society has the longest-running project in the US, the Christmas Bird Count.
Over recent decades, most of the shade-grown coffee in Latin America has been converted to intensively managed row monocultures devoid of trees or other vegetation. As a result, many migratory songbirds cannot find suitable habitats on their wintering grounds, and resident species of birds in Latin America have reduced breeding success due to lack of habitat.
All Bird Friendly coffee is first certified organic, and then goes much further adding standards for shade cover, plant species diversity, canopy structure, required buffer zones, leaf litter cover and much more. These are all necessary for wildlife to flourish.
When you purchase Bird Friendly® certified coffee or cocoa, you preserve critical habitat for birds and wildlife, fight climate change, protect biodiversity, and support farmers committed to conserving bird and wildlife habitat by farming sustainably.
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 with us or your local wildlife rehabilitation center.
Helpful resources to print and share with others.
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