By Taylor Rhoades, Special Project Chair, YPAC, and Anna Vallery, Conservation Specialist, Houston Audubon
It doesn’t take much effort to find advice on how to support birds. In fact, a simple Google search produces hundreds of helpful resources in a matter of seconds. So, if the information is out there, then why are so few people taking action? The answer is both simple, and extremely complicated. In short – knowledge alone is often not enough to change peoples’ behaviors. Our decisions, whether we are buying a new car or planting native plants, are often governed by an internal process – assessing our resources, weighing pros and cons, and seeking advice from outside sources. To move people to action, we have to have an understanding of that decision-making process and create strategies that not only fuel and sustain motivation, but also work to help overcome barriers that keep people from finding success.
With this in mind, Houston Audubon’s Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) has embarked on a mission to uncover the things people find most challenging (barriers) and most rewarding (benefits) about carrying out at least one of the following bird-friendly behaviors:
- Plant and maintain native plants for birds
- Install and maintain a water feature
- Install and maintain a nest box
- Install and maintain a feeder
In February, YPAC members were asked to commit to carrying out one of the above commitments and document their experience over a period of six months, using team meetings and regular text communications to share their struggles and successes with other team members. In addition to sharing tips and tricks and holding each other accountable, the group has also worked together to help come up with alternative commitments like buying bird-friendly coffee or putting up stickers to prevent bird strikes for YPAC members that do not have access to an outdoor space at home.
As they continue on their journey, members of the YPAC will be sharing their experiences with a wider audience through a series of blog posts and will continue to provide feedback to YPAC and Houston Audubon staff. The barrier and benefit research collected by the team will help to uncover ways to realistically meet the needs of a greater number of Houstonians and be used to inform the structure and tools used for sharing resources, ensuring long-term, wildlife-saving success. All of this information will also be used to help re-design Houston Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Yards Certification into a new Bird-Friendly Spaces program, coming later this year!
Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts from our YPAC members to hear about their journeys! For more information on the Bird-Friendly Communities program and to learn how to make your outdoor space bird-friendly, visit www.birdfriendlyhouston.org/getstarted.