How You Can Help to Save birds

Prothonotary Warbler

An vast array of rescue missions, research projects and experiments are in the works across the hemisphere to safeguard birds, but there’s also much that can be done in our own backyards, businesses and communities. We were struck in our travels how steps like putting in native plants that serve as support for birds, avoiding pesticides, and putting up feeders can turn your yard, local park, even some of the large ranches we visited into havens for birds. Click the + sign on the headlines below to get the best ideas we could find about contributing to the work to protect birds.

Top 10 things you can do to help birds

1. Make your yard welcome for birds

Put in native plants and trees, avoid invasive plants, put up bird feeders, set up a bird bath. You can create a home, workplace and neighborhood that supports birds and fill your life with winged visitors. Details and links are below.

hummingbird: A female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds comes in for a land. Photos by Anders Gyllenhaal
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds comes in for a land. Photos by Anders Gyllenhaal

2. Make your home safe for birds

Protect against window collisions, and avoid pesticides. More than a third of the collisions that are the leading cause of bird deaths occur around homes. A wealth of information is available – and summarized below.

3. Get involved in the campaign to protect birds

From major legislation that funds science and conservation to protesting measures harmful to birds in your community, opportunities to support birds abound. The bird nonprofits do a good job of keeping you posted when help is needed. Local remedies are especially important, such as making sure your town has such measures as “lights-out’’ policies and bird-friendly building standards to avoid collisions.

4. Join one or more of the bird nonprofit

Audubon, Cornell, American Bird Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and the many organizations devoted to specifics species all have reasonable tax-deductible memberships that enable you to contribute to conservation efforts and play a part in the work to save birds.

5. Help birds and wildlife in the marketplace.

Bird-friendly Coffee

There is a steadily growing number of bird-friendly products – from coffee to chocolate to maple syrup – that help by shaping agricultural practices with birds in mind. Key players are listed below.

6. Help confront the feral cat dilemma.

Outdoor cats kill more than two billion birds a year, mostly for the hunting instinct built into their nature. This is a complex and critical issue that upsets cat lovers, but the facts show that thoughtful solutions can make a huge difference.

7. Contribute to the science of birds


One of the most compelling developments in birding is the opportunity to play a role in the study of birds. Reporting the birds you see to nonprofits from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to the National Audubon Society via apps and bird counts helps create citizen science data that propels much of the conservation advances today.

8. Incorporate birds in your gift-giving

All kinds of gifts, clothes, hats and artwork are on the market. Many contribute a portion to conservation projects. Some of our favorite sources are below.

9. Invest in binoculars

Binacular make all the difference
Binacular make all the difference

The one gift that can change your relationship with birds is binoculars. The difference between watching birds from afar and getting a close-up view is sure to enlist you in the cause.

10. Spread the news on birds when you get the chance

We’ve found that many people are interested in birds – and many aren’t aware of how much is at stake at this moment. Sharing your experiences and the challenges that birds face – as well as all that can be done – can make a difference.

More details and links

Chestnut-sided Warbler

How to avoid collisions with windows

 The American Bird Conservancy’s website lists 29 readily available products that you can order.

Ideas for creating a welcoming home for birds

The National Wildlife Federation and its 24 state affiliates operate the Garden for Wildlife program full of advice on plantings good for birds.

Links for joining a bird nonprofit

The major nonprofits all have good philanthropic rankings with annual membership fees that range from $20 to $45. Here’s a link to the National Audubon Society. Here’s American Bird Conservancy. Here’s a link for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and here’s the membership page for  Ducks Unlimited. Other organizations that focus on specific birds include the Birds of Prey Foundation, International Crane Foundation, American Eagle Foundation and the North American Bluebird Society. Then there are other nonprofits that conserve nature more broadly while also providing essential help for birds. Well-known in this category are The Nature Conservancy, Center for Biodiversity, The National Wildlife Refuge Association and The National Wildlife Federation.

Suggestions on bird feeders

There’s no end to the bird feeders you can put up. Here’s a good summary by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. If you’re looking for a high-rated option, the Wire-cutter project that assess products recommends the Droll Yankees 18-inch Onyx Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder with Removable Base[MM1] [AG2] .

How to make hummingbird nectar

The Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center offers this guidance for how to make nectar for hummingbirds from sugar and water.

Launching a “lights out” effort for migratory birds

Here’s Audubon’s summary of the “Lights out” project aimed at turning off city lights during peak migration periods:

Details on bird-friendly products

Led by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, bird-friendly coffee is produced on farms that meet standards that protect birds. Here’s a summary from Smithsonian. Bird-friendly beef: A relatively new project started by National Audubon sells beef raised on sustainable ranches. And here’s Audubon’s list of online vendors that sell Bird-Friendly Maple Syrup from farms meeting guidelines for helping birds.

Why cats are such a big issue

The American Bird Conservancy procides a good primer from the issues surround outdoor cats. And here’s the data on the problem from Smithsonian Magazine.

Good places to find bird gifts

Among our favorite online stores is Bird Collective and the National Audubon’s marketplace.

Links to two of our favorite birding tools

The Cornell Lab also offers a video introduction on how to use eBird, which is the world’s largest citizen science project devoted to collecting data on birds. National Audubon launched its long-awaited Bird Migration Explorer that lets you follow migrations across the hemisphere as well as check the birds passing by your home with a tool rich with information.


OUR NEW BOOK: “A Wing and a Prayer”

Can We Save Our Vanishing Birds?

A riveting journey through the research breakthroughs, risky experiments and promising campaigns to save birds across the hemisphere, the book is praised from The New York Times’ book review to Good Morning America.