Happy Earth Day from all of us at Houston Audubon! Although we think every day should be Earth Day, we’re excited for a chance to celebrate the planet that sustains the people and wildlife that call it home. There are many easy actions you can take to promote a healthier and happier Earth. If you’re looking for a place to start and have a soft spot for our feathered friends, you can help locally by turning your community into a Bird-Friendly Community! Supporting birds in your yard or local spaces can make a huge conservation impact for not only wildlife, but people as well. As we like to say, “where birds thrive, people prosper.”
There are four key steps to being Bird-Friendly! We’ve outlined them below, along with suggestions on how you can work towards each.
Get Connected with Others
Learn from others who are making efforts to create a happier and
healthier world! This spring, there are a number of opportunities for you to connect with others doing great things for birds, wildlife, and their habitat! You can join a monthly urban bird survey to take part in community science while learning about the abundance of bird species in our area.
Another exciting opportunity coming up is the City Nature Challenge! Started in 2016 as a competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the City Nature Challenge (CNC) has grown into an international event, motivating people around the world to find and document wildlife in their cities. Did you know Houston has documented the most number of species in the ENTIRE country for the last few years? Download the iNaturalist app and start documenting species from April 30 – May 1! Click for details or keep up with the Houston-Galveston Team Facebook group!
Limit Dangerous Threats to Birds
Spring migration is in full-swing each Earth Day. Over 2 billion birds migrate through the state of Texas each year and these birds need our help to successfully navigate through our large city, full of threats to birds. There are a few simple actions you can take to help both migratory and resident birds in Houston. First, turn lights out between 11 pm and 6 am each night of spring, especially between April 19 and May 7, when 50% of birds are migrating through our state! While you’re at it, keep all cats indoors to help protect our avian visitors! Learn more about threats to birds.
Create Inviting Habitat
Make your yard a more inviting habitat for resident and migratory birds. Birds traveling thousands of miles on their journey to their breeding ground are in need of food and fresh water! In addition to putting out bird food, you can create and maintain a water feature for birds to cool off, have a drink, and bathe. Pro tip: installing a drip or fountain will help birds hear and locate the water feature quicker. Pretty soon you’ll have the most popular bird hangout in town.
Plant Native Plants
Another key feature of a bird friendly habitat is native plants! Spring is the perfect time for gardening, and you may be in the market for some new plants after the winter storm. Replace those exotic plant species with plants that are actually native to our region! Native plants support native insects, which in turn support birds. We want to see native plants in the ground all throughout our wonderful city. You can start small by dedicating one corner of your yard to native habitat or by starting a native container garden. The birds and the bees (and other insects) will thank you! Head over to our Natives Nursery online shop to purchase some real-deal native plants! Learn more about native plants here.
Celebrate this Earth Day by giving back to the planet and all of its inhabitants! By following the four steps to being Bird-Friendly, you aren’t only supporting birds, but insects, bats, plants, and other wildlife! All the residents of Earth are interconnected, so making small changes in your life can make all the difference. Help keep Houston a Bird City! Happy Earth Day, everyone!
By Anna Vallery, Conservation Specialist, Houston Audubon