Volume 28 Issue 4, Fall 2023
by Steve Allen
Named after the 2019 study which determined that since 1970 North America’s bird population has been reduced by nearly 30%, or almost 3 billion birds, the 3 Billion Birds Project is working with the federal and state governments, non-profit organizations, and others to try to reverse this dire situation. At the same time, 3 Billion Birds is asking everyone to take these “7 Simple Actions” to help save birds:
1.Make windows safer, day and night. There are estimates that up to 1 billion birds a year are killed by collisions with windows. You can help by installing screens, films, or BirdSavers, which are vertical hanging cords spaced about 4 inches apart, to break up the reflection off the glass.
2. Keep cats indoors. Cats are estimated to kill more than 2.6 billion birds a year, the largest source of human-caused bird loss after habitat reduction. You can help by keeping your cat indoors or creating an outdoor “catio,” which allows your cat some outdoor time but prevents hunting.
3. Reduce lawns and plant natives. Native plants produce nectar, seeds, and berries, and attract native insects, all of which provide nutrition for birds, as well as providing shelter and nesting spots. Lawns, on the other hand, are food deserts for native birds. Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard and increase your native plantings, and watch the birds appear.
4. Avoid pesticides. Pesticides can harm birds directly through contact or indirectly if the birds eat contaminated berries, seeds, or insects. You can help by reducing or eliminating pesticides around your home and garden.
5. Drink coffee that’s good for birds. Sun-grown coffee involves substantial destruction of forests and uses fertilizers and pesticides. Shade-grown coffee preserves the forest canopy, providing habitat for at least 42 species of migratory songbirds. Next time you shop for coffee, look on the package for a “Bird Friendly” certification by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
6. Protect our planet from plastics. Studies have shown that at least 80 species of seabirds have been found to have ingested plastic. You can help by reducing your use of plastic, by using reusable plastic items, and recycling the rest.
7. Watch birds, and share what you see. The data provided by citizen-scientists provides timely information for scientists to see where birds are increasing, maintaining their numbers, or declining. You can help by recording all of your bird walks on eBird, and joining an organized count such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project Feeder Watch, or a Breeding Bird Survey.
More ideas for how to implement these actions and next steps you can take can be found at the 3 billion birds project website.
Safer windows: https://www.birdsavers.com/
Catios: https://catiospaces.com/ or https://habitathaven.com/
Bird-friendly coffee: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/bird-friendly