Tens of thousands of migrating birds collide with obstacles in mid-flight during both spring and fall migrations, and the majority of these collisions cause fatal injuries. Even if the birds are not killed on impact, stunned birds are more susceptible to predators. The most common dangerous obstacles include tall glass buildings, electrical wires and poles, wind turbines, and similar structures.
By far the largest threat to birds is the loss of habitat. Deforestation, the draining of wetlands, planting of non-native trees, the loss of areas to urban developments and intensive agriculture are major threats to birds. Numbers of many species are in serious decline as a result of habitat loss and these losses are particularly serious on islands, where bird populations are often small and very fragile.
How to save migratory birds
The first step in helping migratory birds is to understand the threats they face along the way. There are some simple actions to minimize those threats.
Recycle Anything you recycle reduces litter and saves resources. Get creative! You can make a bag from used juice containers and bird feeders from old dishes and plastic bottles.
Keep your cat indoors
This is best for your cat as well as the birds, as indoor cats live an average of three to seven times longer. Even well fed cats kill birds, and bells on cats don’t effectively warn birds of cat strikes.
Mark your window
Bird collisions with windows are a leading cause of bird death across the world. One of the best things you can do at home is add markers to your windows so birds can distinguish between a window reflection and the real thing.
Avoid using harmful pesticides
Minimize or eliminate pesticide use and dispose of oil, lead, and other toxic materials safely and responsibly so there is no environmental contamination that can affect birds. If a spill occurs, participate in cleanup efforts can help protect both local and migratory birds.
Turn off your lights
Many songbirds migrate overnight; they always rely on the moon and stars to help guide them along their journey. Overnight lights can confuse migratory birds and cause them to collide with windows. Save our feathered friends by turning out the lights.
Birds need our help now more than ever. Migration is a natural part of many birds' lives, but it is fraught with danger. By understanding the threats migrating birds face, it is possible for every birder to help their feathered friends complete these seasonal journeys safely.