The birds and the bees need our help!
Let’s start with the birds. The bird population has many threats and we can do
something to mitigate them! The threats to the bird population here on Long Island include:
- Habitat Loss
- Climate Change
- Bird Collisions
The destruction and fragmentation of habitats is the most critical threat that the birds are
facing today. Bird habitats on Long Island consist of forests, grasslands, wetlands, and
beaches. These habitats are especially crucial for threatened and at-risk bird species.
These habitats are being destroyed by infrastructure development. Migratory birds are
especially affected because they rely on many different geographic locations throughout
their annual cycle for food, rest, and breeding.
As we influence our climate, we also influence the ecosystems that birds rely on for
survival. With increased air temperatures and major temperature shifts in the oceans,
the airflow that birds rely on to navigate has changed and therefore has made it difficult
for migratory birds especially, to navigate to their destinations. The rise in sea level has
also displaced many species of coastal birds. Climate change also has indirect effects.
Due to climate change, the prey that many birds rely on has changed due to the change in
waterbody temperatures. These changes may be minor for us, but they are devastating
for migratory birds because the delicate ecosystems have been thrown off balance.
Climate change throws off the natural cues within the environment that drive the timing
behind bird migration and reproduction.
Millions of birds die each year due to collisions that are caused by man-made
structures. Man-made structures include:
- Wind turbines
- Communication towers
- Glass Windows
- Power lines
Chemicals kill! The chemicals that the agricultural industry uses kill birds. DDT may have
been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in 1972, but
chemicals that are considered close relatives to DDT are still used today. The chemicals
Organochlorine insecticides are still being used and are killing birds and thinning their
eggshells. Birds do not have to come into direct contact with pesticides to be harmed by
them. Toxins are carried up the food chain in an ecosystem, which means that the bird’s
prey can contain pesticides and when eaten, it can harm the bird. Over time, the
pesticides will accumulate, which is called bioaccumulation. The bird’s prey can also die
from the pesticides, which can result in bird starvation.
This may sound cliche, but the common house cat is actually one of the greatest
predators to birds. The increase in population density, which has resulted in more
development, has led to the increase in stray cats, therefore resulting in an increase in
Hunting for birds is common on Long Island and considered a sport as well as a source
of food for some, but with poor regulation, overhunting can lead to a decline in bird
What You Can Do To Help The Birds!
- Support Longs Island’s state parks and preserves that are used to help rebound these bird populations.
- Get involved with habitat restoration and conservation projects.
- Support organizations, such as the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, to help stop development.
- Apply window film to your homes windows to reduce bird collisions.
- Keep your cat indoors or put a bell on your cat’s collar.
- If you see something, say something! If you think that a hunter is not abiding by the rules, then give the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) a call.
- Delay tree trimming or removal until November – February to avoid nesting season.
- Hang bird feeders with fresh seed in your yard.
- Build or buy a bird house and attach it to a sturdy post in your yard.
- Plant bird-friendly native plants. Use the following link to find bird-friendly native plants for your area: https://www.audubon.org/native-plants
By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society