Shorewood Loves Birds
Recognized as a Bird City in 2014, Shorewood strives to make itself a welcoming and healthy habitat for all the birds that call our community home, whether seasonally or year-round. In 2019, the journal Science reported a staggering loss of over three billion breeding birds since 1970 in North America alone, representing over 30 percent of the population. But there is hope. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, taking these seven simple actions can help birds:
- Avoid bird strikes by making windows safer day and night
- Keep cats indoors
- Reduce turf lawn and increase native plantings
- Avoid pesticides
- Drink shade-grown coffee
- Reduce plastic use and waste
- Watch birds and report what you see
How to Prevent Bird Window Collisions
Besides habitat loss and predation by outdoor cats, collisions with window glass are the leading source of human-caused mortality among wild birds in the United States. Collisions occur by day because birds see their reflections in glass exteriors and think they can fly to them or because transparent glass creates the illusion of a clear passageway. Collisions occur by night because outdoor lighting draws in migrating birds, bringing them dangerously close to windows, towers, and wires.
There are four ways you can keep birds from striking windows:
- Installing barriers between birds and the window exterior
- Breaking up reflections that birds see in windows
- Removing the illusion of a clear passageway
- Turning off or down-shielding outdoor lighting
You can find easy-to-follow instructions for taking these steps, as well as lists of tested collision-prevention products that you can buy, on the websites of the American Bird Conservancy, FLAP Canada, and the Wisconsin Humane Society. National Audubon offers excellent information about the threat that artificial lights and skyglow pose to migrating birds.
To learn what to do if you've found a sick or injured wild bird, including a bird injured in a window collision, read this flyer (PDF) from the Wisconsin Humane Society's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
Birds Love Indoor Cats
There are many reasons for birds to love indoor cats. Indoor cats are healthy cats. Indoor cats live longer lives, as they are less likely to be injured or killed by being hit by motor vehicles, trapped, or poisoned. They are also less inclined to contract or spread communicable diseases from other cats. Moreover, injuries from cat fights are a real and present risk for outdoor cats. Indoor cats do not defecate in sandboxes and spread the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis to other animals, including humans (pregnant women are especially vulnerable). Indoor cats live longer and happier lives than free-roaming cats. And all that makes for a happy bird as well.
But most of all, birds love indoor cats because they are not killed by them for sport. Each year over a billion birds are killed by the tens of millions of feral and free-roaming cats. Keeping a cat indoors is good for the cat, and also for birds and other small animals that might become their bloody playthings. It takes a concerted effort by a whole community to mitigate the many hazards birds face in order to survive in a rapidly changing world, and keeping a cat indoors is one of them. In Shorewood, it is also the law (Shorewood Village Code 192-4).
For a variety of reasons, the Wisconsin Humane Society recommends keeping cats indoors year round. Let’s all do our part to keep our bird population healthy and also enjoy our indoor pets for years to come. Our continued status as a Bird City depends on it.
For More Information
- How to Keep Birds from Hitting Windows (American Bird Conservancy)
- Stop Birds from Hitting Your Windows (FLAP Canada)
- Preventing Window Collisions (WIngs) (Wisconsin Humane Society)
- Lights Out (BirdCast)
- Lights Out (Audubon)
- Sick or Injured Birds (Wisconsin Humane Society)
- FAQ: Outdoor Cats and Their Effects on Birds (All About Birds)
- Cats Indoors (American Bird Conservancy)
- The Effects of Free-ranging Cats on Birds in Wisconsin (Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership)
- Keep Your Cat Inside (Wisconsin Humane Society)