BIRD CITY STILLWATER
Group Leader: Allison McGinnis
Sustainable Stillwater MN’s Bird City Workgroup is dedicated to implementing the requirements of the Minnesota Audubon Society’s award to Stillwater as a “Minnesota Bird City” in 2021.
If you are interested in saving the birds and bird city, please contact Allison.
Criteria to fulfill our Bird City status includes these best practices:
Educate and engage citizens in birding and conservation
Protect, restore, and enhance bird habitat
Reduce threats to birds
Work with the City to implement Bird City requirements
Since Stillwater is also a GreenStep City, many of Bird City best practices also fulfill Minnesota GreenStep requirements as well.
HELPING OUR BIRDS
Stillwater is now a “Bird City” with signs posted at the city’s entrances so that visitors will know that Stillwater appreciates and cares for our birds. What can Stillwater residents do to protect and appreciate our native birds? Here are several ways to live a Bird-Friendly Life. First, we all work to protect and enhance natural habitat, not use neonicotinoids, work on our “urban forest” and educate and engage people on birds.
KEEP CATS INDOORS:
Cats are wonderful pets, but they are devastating to native birds. The ABC estimates that cats kill over a billion birds a year.
PLANT A TREE:
Trees provide food and shelter for our birds. 95% of our native birds eat insects and native trees are hosts to beneficial insects for birds and their young. Trees provide materials and space for nests, and protection from intense weather and from predators. Stillwater Public Works provides a list of native trees and shrubs for homeowners.
STOP BIRDS FROM HITTING YOUR WINDOWS:
Over 200 million birds die each year from collisions with windows! (Think the Vikings Stadium) The American Bird Conservancy has a database of ways to stop these collisions – from simple tempera paints and tales to special screens and film. Window decals which signal to birds are available at pet and seed stores. Birds don’t hit all windows; if you find birds under certain windows, those windows should be targeted with decals or tape.
BUY BIRD-FRIENDLY COFFEE:
Most of our songbirds migrate from Central America. Thinks about buying certified shade-grown coffees such as “Rainforest Alliance Certified” or “Bird Friendly” which requires that farmers maintain or restore tree canopy cover and don’t use pesticides which decrease the birds’ food supply.
TURN DOWN YOUR LIGHTS:
Most birds migrate at night and can be drawn off course by lighted structures during peak migration—from March 15 to May 31 and from August 15 to October 31. The Lights Out program was mainly directed to taller buildings, but homeowners can help by turning off exterior decorative lighting and minimizing security lighting, and turning off interior lighting, especially on upper floors when not being used.
Neonicotinoids are pesticides which kill not just the pests but also the insects that our native birds depend on to feed their young. Be sure to look or ask when you buy plants and stay away from plants treated with neonicotinoids.
GO NATIVE WITH YOUR LANDSCAPING:
Use native plants in your landscaping. Consider replacing some of the lawn turf with “bee lawn” plantings. Create a “layered” landscape—canopy trees, shrubs, grasses which provide food and shelter for birds. If you can, let dead trees stand as they provide protection and lots of insects for food. Brush piles may look messy, but they are great hiding places for birds. Instead of clearing the garden in the fall, wait until mid-May as plant debris provides food and nesting materials for beneficial insects and birds.
Source: The American Bird Conservancy (ABCbirds.com) and Wild Ones and Audubon (mn.audubon.org)
LIGHTS OUT RESEARCH
High-intensity urban light installation dramatically alters nocturnal bird migration |
Benjamin M. Van Dorena,b,1, Kyle G. Hortona,c,d,1, Adriaan M. Doktera, Holger Klincke, Susan B. Elbinf, and Andrew Farnswortha,2
Billions of nocturnally migrating birds move through increasingly photopolluted skies, relying on cues for navigation and orientation that artificial light at night (ALAN) can impair. However, no studies have quantified avian responses to powerful ground-based light sources in urban areas. We studied effects of ALAN on migrating birds by monitoring the beams of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s “Tribute in Light” in New York, quantifying behavioral responses with radar and acoustic sensors and modeling disorientation and attraction with simulations. This single light source induced significant behavioral alterations in birds, even in good visibility conditions, in this heavily photopolluted environment, and to
altitudes up to 4 km. We estimate that the installation influenced ≈1.1 million birds during our study period of 7 d over 7 y.