All posts by Kristen Clark

Serenity Prayer Wildlife Printables

I was inspired by a friend’s request to create a poster featuring the Serenity Prayer and one of my photographs from our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary.   I thought it was a terrific idea, but I struggled to decide upon just one version.  There were too many photographs to choose from, and they were all my favorite.  So I made several versions and asked for feedback on our Facebook page.  That was no help because everyone had their favorite, too!  Lol.  So, I went ahead and made them all available as a downloadable/printable poster.

Click here to download the entire set of printable images, including the fox, flowers, butterfly, bird, woodpecker, and bunny.  Use your color printer to print your favorite.  Or, print them all!  Frame them, laminate them, share them, give them… and enjoy!  Consider this my gift to you for your support and encouragement of our efforts.

Cheers!

 

10 Things I Learned During the 2nd Year of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary

This month marks the two year anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary, and as I reminisce over the last twelve months, I marvel at all my husband and I have experienced with our new adventure.  And as I reviewed the list of things I learned during the first year, I felt compelled to write a list of the ten things I learned during year two.  After comparing the two lists, I believe that every year will bring new and insightful lessons, and I can’t wait to see what this next year has to offer!

Here’s what I learned in year TWO of our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary:

  1. Keeping a video camera close at hand along with my digital SLR camera is really helpful, especially when a photo just won’t do the trick.
  2. When I’m crunched for time, providing fresh water is STILL always more important than providing food – for the birds and the wildlife.
  3. Baby birds will absolutely drown when the water in the birdbath is too deep, making rocks and pebbles a must in deep baths.
  4. The only way to respond to an outbreak of Avian Pox is to take and leave down all feeders and baths for 30 days, the length of time it takes for this deadly virus to run its course through a flock.
  5. Loss of life – birds and animals alike – is a natural requirement for sustaining the circle of life.
  6. When we offer a broad variety of wild bird food, we see a broad variety of birds at our feeders.
  7. Every wildlife visitation is special, because a particular visit may not happen again… for whatever reason.
  8. Keeping a Life List of the birds visiting our backyard helps us identify and record first time visitors more easily.
  9. Reading about and studying the birds in our backyard (their flight patterns, calls, and appearance) is helpful in identifying new species.
  10. Documenting the on-goings of our wildlife habitat for sharing with others is critical because there are people everywhere interested in what we are doing.

If you’re interested in seeing pictures and videos of our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary, follow us on Facebook.  This is where we document the on-goings of our wildlife habitat for sharing with others.  And feel free to share about your own exciting adventures with the birds and wildlife!

Happy birding!

The Savage Reality of Survival – One Deer’s Legacy

Always on the lookout for new and exciting discoveries on our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary, my husband and I recently took a stroll around the property.  Our neighbor had invited his artist friend to collect a dead dear off his property just a few days earlier, (a gorgeous 8 point buck that had died behind an abandoned trailer), and this news inspired us to also take a look around.

We were awe-struck with what we found, not to mention humbled, as our WILD life reminded us that LOSS of life is often required to sustain the CIRCLE of life.

We quietly and reverently observed the bones we found scattered inside and just beyond the outskirts of our property line: first we saw a leg, then a second leg, then the rib cage and head to what appeared to be a second deer – all picked perfectly clean.

 

As I took photographs, I celebrated the legacy this deer left behind and the sacrifice of it’s life for the prosperity of other wildlife.  And I became deeply aware of all our habitat signifies – not only the grace of Creation but also the savage reality of survival, and I marveled at the beauty of both.

   

 

 

DIY Terrarium Bird Feeder

February is National Bird Feeding Month and I can’t think of a better way to show the birds a little extra love than with this sweet DIY bird feeder!  Super easy to make and something the birds will love!

Here’s what I used:

  • Silk flowers
  • Butterfly stickers
  • Organza ribbon and/or lace
  • Colorful plastic beads
  • Plastic round terrarium balls (which I picked up at the Dollar Store)

Here’s what I did:

  • I hot-glued the silk flowers to the top of the terrarium ball
  • I added a butterfly sticker to the ball near the silk flowers
  • I threaded the ribbon and/or lace with the colorful plastic beads to make the hanger, knotting in between the beads to keep them separated
  • I added some mixed wild bird seed and hung the ball outside

Chickadees are curious, so it didn’t surprise me that it was a chickadee who decided to check out the new feeder first!  But he was quickly followed by a pygmy nuthatch who also wanted to explore the new diner! Lol.

February is National Bird Feeding Month and a great reminder to feed the birds through the tough winter months when food sources can be scarce.  Let’s show our feathered friends a little love with this sweet feeder, and remember to keep it well stocked all month long!

Backyard Birding New Year’s Resolutions Anyone Can Keep

I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions but as I reflect on my birding adventures over the last year I realize there were several things I wanted to do but never got around to.  Attending the Festival of Cranes and celebrating the return of Sandhill cranes to Bosque del Apache is one terrific example. And I can’t for the life of me remember why I didn’t make that event.  So this year I’ve decided to be more intentional in my birding pursuits by proactively planning activities I know will enhance my birding adventure!  And I’ve decided to make sure I do one new thing each month.  So, with the New Year upon us, here is my list of self-promises for the year:

  1. Maintain and update regularly our range map of the birds in our backyard, tracking the bird species that visit each month and then comparing those visitors to last year’s visitors in the same month.
  2. Keep an eagle eye out for new bird species visiting our backyard and learning as much about them as possible.
  3. Visit a local birding hot-spot over a weekend or day trip and identify birds we don’t usually get in our own backyard.
  4. Attend a birding festival I haven’t been to yet, and more specifically attend the Festival of Cranes!
  5. Encourage new species to visit our feeders by placing out a feeder designed just for them.
  6. Attract new bird species to our backyard by adding a new and different food source; this year I’ll try fresh fruit.
  7. Determine to see a bird I’ve been wanting to see and make the necessary arrangements to do so; the Barn owl is coming to mind at the moment.
  8. Join a local Audubon chapter and get involved in their events and activities.
  9. Plant a bird-friendly hedge, tree, or climbing plant that is native to our region.
  10. Learn to make a DIY food source like home-made suet.
  11. Freshen up our backyard by adding a new garden accessory, like a new bird house, feeder, or bath.
  12. Visit a birding retail store and see what’s new on the market.

What do you think?  Any of these resonate with you?  If so, feel free to borrow any of my resolutions for yourself.  I don’t mind.

And from my backyard to yours… Happy Birding!

Quick and Easy DIY Bird Seed Parfait for the Holidays

The hubbub of the holidays can be stressful, but nothing can be more frantic than realizing you have an upcoming white-elephant or holiday gift exchange and NO GIFT!  Eek!  Or maybe you’re simply looking for a creative gift idea for a fellow birder.  Well, here’s an easy, inexpensive, DIY holiday gift anyone can make in just minutes.  And it’s a gift idea that can be easily altered to accommodate any gift-giving holiday; just change up the ribbon and decorative topper.  Take a look!

10 Things I Learned During the First Year of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary

This month marks the one year anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary, and as I reminisce over the last twelve months, I’m reminded of how blessed we have been.  Common visitors to our bird sanctuary include chickadees, Steller’s jays, juncos, pine siskin, and house finches, while special appearances were made by a black-throated gray warbler and Williamson’s sapsucker.  We have several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders, AND we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month.

Getting to experience the birds and wildlife every day is a special treat but the real gift lies in the wisdom I’ve acquired in such a short time.  Nature has its music for those who will listen and I’ve done my share of listening.  Here’s what I’ve learned in the process:

  1. The date and time stamp on the trail cam matters in keeping good records.
  2. Birds will not set a limit on how much food I should provide them, so I have to.
  3. Indoor window clings are critical in avoiding aviary window strikes.
  4. When time or resources are limited, water is more important than food.
  5. Having a contact at the local US Fish and Wildlife Service is really helpful.
  6. Photographs are required to support a claim of wildlife or bird species.
  7. There will be injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife and knowing in advance what to do when I find them will reduce stress – for me and for the wildlife.
  8. Volunteering at a local wildlife rescue organization is an ideal hands-on learning experience.
  9. The traffic patterns in my habitat may not match the information in various field guides, and that’s okay.
  10. Knowing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 will help keep me out of jail.

I should probably write a book about everything I’ve learned this past year, but for now this is my short list.  And if you’re interested in hearing the details around each of these ten learnings, check back here over the next several weeks. My goal is to elaborate on each and every one of these in greater detail.  In the meantime… happy birding!Special care ad

Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat!

One year ago this month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized me and my husband for having successfully certified our Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program.  This month, we are celebrating the habitat’s one year anniversary! Woo hoo!

Truth is, we certified our mountainous habitat in response to the “Dog Head” fire that consumed nearly 18,000 acres in June of last year.  We had experienced a sudden influx of both birds and wildlife immediately after the fire and we wanted to do our part to create a safe haven for them.  In fact, in just this past year alone, we’ve had 32 different bird species come through our habitat, many of which have nested and are now raising young.

Common visitors to our bird sanctuary include chickadees, Steller’s jays, juncos, pine siskin, and house finches, while special appearances were made by a black-throated gray warbler and Williamson’s sapsucker. We provide for the wild birds with several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders. And we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month! But providing water is the most critical aspect of what we do (as you’ve heard me say before) because a bird will die from dehydration before it will die from starvation, especially during critical winter months or droughts when water is scarce.

Even wild mammals need water, as evidenced by several photographs I took this summer of a mule deer drinking water from our birdbath out back.  (That was terribly exciting to watch!) Other mammals frequenting our wildlife habitat include Abert’s and rock squirrels, brush and cottontail bunnies, coyotes, and a pair of wolves.

In the midst of the worldly drama around us, we’re grateful to have nature as a form of distraction.  The beauty and grace of our wildlife and birds delight us daily, reminding us of the splendor of God’s creation.  Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us, for your encouragement along the way, and for your support of our efforts.

My Backyard Birding Manifesto

So, what is a manifesto and why do you want to create one of your own?  A manifesto is a public declaration of policy and aims.  It’s a mission statement, a proclamation, or an announcement of one’s values and commitments.

I decided to create a manifesto of my intentions with regard to our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary.  I want to keep myself accountable and reminded of my commitment – to our wildlife and birds.  I want to be a good steward of our habitat and make sure our wild guests are comfortable, safe, and well fed.  I figured a manifesto would be the perfect tool for that reminder, keeping me focused on what I value and serving as my north star when things get tough.

Creating my manifesto was an interesting exercise.  I researched different approaches and finally I just started writing down those things that were important to me in terms of the commitment I was willing to make.  I had to keep it simple, though, otherwise the task seemed daunting.  But it wasn’t too terrible.  In fact, it was an insightful exercise.  So, here’s my backyard birding manifesto.  How would yours read?

 

DIY Up-Cycled Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders

I love DIY projects and I recently tried my hand at up-cycling some 2 liter plastic bottles.  Turns out it’s easier than I thought and decided to make these cute bird feeders.  Functional and pretty!

First, I ordered these plastic bottle bird feeder kits on Amazon, (see picture upper left), but you can probably get them at other online retailers, too.

Then, I collected empty 2 liter plastic bottles. (We go through lots of bottled sparkling water, so collecting several was easy-peasy.)

Once I had those items in hand, I dug into my crafting stash:

  • I used painter’s tape to outline my decorative space around each plastic bottle.
  • I painted each space with chalk paint using a roller brush; one coat did the trick and then I let the bottle dry overnight.
  • I covered the painted space with a napkin design and decoupage, separating the napkin to 1 ply and using saran wrap to remove any bubbles. Note: Remember to turn the bottle upside down before adhering the napkin design.
  • I let that dry, then covered the napkin design with a 2nd coat of decoupage, which I let dry again over night
  • I then coated the napkin design with varnish and let that dry overnight.
  • I inserted the plastic bottle hangers by punching small holes into the sides of the bottles. I used sharp craft scissors for this step.
  • Then I filled the bottle with a mixed blend of wild bird seed.
  • I screwed on the plastic feeding perch and Voila!

The birds love my new feeder, and I quickly discovered that our squirrels do, too.  In fact, in our backyard, we’re inundated with a bunch of hungry baby squirrels.  They were able to jump onto the bird feeder and the plastic hanger wasn’t strong enough to hold their weight; it snapped and down went my feeder.  But the plastic bottle and feeding perch were durable enough for the fall.  So, I replaced the plastic hanger with a wire pant hanger and that did the trick!

   

Anyway, I loved this idea so much that I went back online and ordered 2 more sets of the plastic bottle bird feeder kits from Amazon.  Then I went crazy with my napkin collection, some of which I bought from the Dollar Store.  Nice!

Super easy to make, low cost, and really pretty.  Hmmm… these might just make the perfect Christmas presents for my birding friends and family-members and I have plenty of time to get started in collecting bottles and supplies.  Off I go…

Make Your Own Backyard Birding Range Map

Educating myself about the birds in my backyard is a priority. I want to make sure I know who’s coming to dinner and when!  As a result, I frequently consult numerous field guides and online sights. And I’ve found that range maps are a great tool for helping identify specific bird species. Some of the resources I consult are exceptional. However, I’ve found myself disappointed with some of the generalizations made for my area. For example, local resources indicate that the Cassin’s Kingbird will squawk loudly back and forth in my backyard in July, but I’ve yet to see a Cassin’s Kingbird. Likewise, the European Starling has been noted as a common bird in my area and so far they’ve been as scarce as a hen’s teeth. (That might actually be a good thing.)

Fact is, no one can tell me what bird species are expected to be in my backyard better than the birds in my backyard. So, I decided to listen to the birds. I created an Excel spreadsheet this year to notate which birds visit my backyard and during which months in the year. An Excel spreadsheet is practical for me because I’m on the computer almost every day, but I could easily do this in a lined journal or on graph paper. A few times every day, I take a few minutes to observe what bird species are in my backyard and I make an entry of those species in my spreadsheet.

I’m nearly half way through the year now and I’m finding that my spreadsheet (see below) is more accurate that many of the other well researched range maps available to me. It’s easy enough to update and its accuracy allows me to better anticipate the food sources I’ll need at different times of the year for the different bird species. That’s good news all around.

My advice: don’t believe everything you read. Listen to the birds instead, and they’ll think your backyard is paradise, too!

DIY Suet Your Backyard Birds will LOVE!

One of the many things I love about my various speaking engagements, book signings, and library events is the people I meet who share a similar passion for their backyard birds! Last week I had the pleasure of meeting DeAnn Zwight, who shared with me her DIY “Boid Goo” recipe. It sounds fantastic and here’s all that’s involved!

  • Bring 6 ½ cups water to a boil, while heating up ADD 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together these dry ingredients: ½ cup flour, 2 cups cornmeal, and 1 cup sugar
  • After the water has come to a boil and the shortening has disintegrated, WHISK in the dry ingredients
  • If you like, add seeds, nuts, raisins, etc.
  • TURN OFF HEAT, cover and cool
  • When cool put into containers (use old commercial suet containers, but round cottage cheese containers partially filled will work too).
  • FREEZE overnight, then put out for the “boids”.

Wow! Doesn’t that sound yummy? And it’s simple enough for even someone like me to try. LOVE THAT! And the birds love it too; take a look at the pictures here (all taken by DeAnn) of her backyard birds eating up her “boid goo”.

And, if you need some ideas for household items that can be used to pour suet into, try some of these:

    • Baker’s Tin Foil Bake Cups
    • When you purchase a suet cake, reuse the container that it came in
    • Small bread loaf pans lined with plastic wrap or foil for easy removal
    • Margarine containers
    • Any size baking/pie pans (when suet cools, cut into squares)

Easy peasy, as my husband likes to say! Lol. Thanks for sharing this DeAnn!

15 Things I Learned Volunteering at the Wildlife Rescue Clinic

I volunteered more than 25 hours at Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico last month, including 10 hours of classroom training, 15 hours of on the job training in the clinic, and a few more hours studying their training manual and taking the open book exam. I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned in those several hours, things I wouldn’t have likely learned elsewhere. Here’s my list of top 15 things I DID NOT KNOW before my volunteer adventure, and not in any particular order.  Did YOU know?

  1. Of the yearly 2000 intakes, most are injured, sick, or orphaned birds (as opposed to mammals).
  2. Baby ducklings get lonely easily and need a mirror in their tub so their reflection will keep them company; they also need a stuffed animal to snuggle up to for warmth.
  3. Baby birds don’t do well when fed applesauce or oatmeal; they can’t process the food.
  4. Most birds don’t do well when fed dog food or cheerios; they can’t process the food.
  5. Females rule the raptor world, whereas males are larger than females in other bird species.
  6. White doves used for release during ceremonies (i.e. weddings or funerals) are actually white homing pigeons, but they don’t all make it back home; some suffer from car and window strikes or hungry hawks.
  7. Domesticated birds, including white homing pigeons, cannot fend for themselves in the wild.
  8. Birds need a dark quiet place to rest and relax for several hours before being looked at for treatment; this reduces their anxiety.
  9. Birds being cared for in the clinic need a towel placed in front of their cage so they don’t see what’s going on in the clinic; this also reduces their anxiety.
  10. Baby ducklings need to be warm during the first few weeks after they hatch and can be kept in a box under a brooding lamp.
  11. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), it is illegal to collect bird feathers or nests of protected species without a permit.
  12. It’s easier to catch and weigh a bird (not including Raptors) by covering their head with a light weight towel or wash cloth; they are more calm when they can’t see what’s going on around them.
  13. 33% of injured birds are cat-caught, meaning they are injured because they were caught by a house cat in the area.
  14. Birds abandoning their babies after being handled by humans is a myth; birds don’t abandon their babies if handled by humans (i.e. placed back up in the nest they fell out of).
  15. Caretakers must go to great lengths to avoid imprinting young birds because birds that have imprinted on humans are unsuitable for release back into the wild.

Haven’t had the chance to volunteer for a wildlife rescue facility?  Take a look at my personal experience  and see if this doesn’t have you seeking out an opportunity for yourself!

My Wildlife Rescue Volunteer Experience

Following up to my earlier post, Why I Decided to Volunteer at a Wildlife Rescue Clinic, I wanted to share my adventure and I’m sure there will be a number of follow up posts on this topic, but only because I LEARNED SO VERY MUCH!  Wow!  Take a look at the video below and if this doesn’t convince you to seek out a similar opportunity for yourself… I don’t know what will.  I simply can’t find the words to express just how grand the experience has been.

P.S. Don’t forget to turn up the volume on your computer.

For more information about Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico, or to make a donation to support this ALL VOLUNTEER organization, visit them at: https://wildliferescuenm.org/

Meet Bird Whisperer and Communications Expert, Kristen Clark

Do you bring your whole self to work? What passion and personal experience do you bring to work and how does that fuel your ability to create and innovate on the job? If you were asked to write an essay in response to these questions and reflect deeply about who you are and how that contributes to what you do at work, what would you write?

I took the opportunity to write and submit the essay below for my company. This is my response to the questions above.   My essay reads:

“My adventure as a backyard birder stems from taking my first photography class as a little girl in summer school. It was then I learned how to develop my own black and white pictures and I took to the craft like a duck takes to water, shooting family and sporting events at every opportunity. Many birthdays later, I received my first “real” camera from my father, and that’s when my passion for photographing nature really took flight.

Over the last several years I’ve enjoyed using a Nikon D3000 Digital SLR and 300mm zoom lens to photograph and study my backyard birds. In fact, last year my husband and I certified our property as a wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary so I could do more of that. I maintain over 20 different bird feeders and we purchase more than 80lbs of bird seed each month. I take hundreds of bird pictures each week and adding a new species to my life list gives me goose bumps. Yes, I talk to the birds.

One thing I love about watching birds is watching bird communication. Birds communicate using a variety of sounds, including singing, calls, squawks, gurgles, trills, rattles, clicks, whistles, and other combinations of vibration. Some make non-vocal sounds by beating the air with their wings and producing a loud drumming noise. Others communicate with visual displays, combining dramatic behaviors with the ruffling of feathers. And, whether scaring off predators, warning about danger, defending one’s territory, or attracting a mate, nothing birds communicate is without purpose.

People also communicate using a variety of sounds and visual displays or behaviors, and one thing I’ve learned from my backyard birds is the need to communicate with purpose. Context, accurate information, choice points, and feedback needn’t be as scarce as hen’s teeth and I can avoid ruffling feathers by choosing my words and tone carefully. This rings especially true in my role as an executive communication lead, where messaging, intention, and design can have either a positive or negative impact on my colleagues and the business.

I’m grateful to have served my company over the last 20 years in various roles, and I enjoy most my role today as a communication expert for my organization. I’m also grateful for my backyard birds and how they’ve inspired me toward new levels of excellence in how I communicate, either face-to-face, in writing, in presentations, or in meetings. Today I strive to communicate in a way that enables my flock toward greater success because when the flock wins, I win. And winning makes me, well, happy as a lark.”

How would your essay read?

Collecting Birds’ Nests: Do or Don’t?

I recently picked up a used book on nature-inspired mixed-media art techniques. It is a beautiful book with gorgeous illustrations and photographs of various ideas for mixed media arts and crafts, and I fell in love with the many examples centered around bird and butterfly motifs. The book had some terrific tips for gathering botanicals and sea shells for various displays and arrangements, but I was horrified when I turned to the chapter on gathering birds’ nests. I thought I had read somewhere that this was illegal.

The book commented, “Winter is the only time of year to ever remove a nest from its natural surroundings. Only in the winter months can you be sure that the birds have abandoned the dwelling and that you aren’t disrupting any nesting activities.” The book also went on to explain that it is against the law to take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

I was relieved to read this last clarification, but still I was disturbed by the thought of collecting nests. So, I did what I do best… researched the subject on line. Here’s what US Fish and Wildlife Services says…

“Most bird nests are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA). This law says: No person may take (kill), possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such bird except as may be permitted under the terms of a valid permit… It is also illegal for anyone to keep a nest they take out of a tree or find on the ground unless they have a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).”

I continued my online research and found numerous stories about how people had faced federal charges for removing or disturbing birds’ nests, with penalties ranging between $3,000 and $25,000. Wow!

Last Saturday I had a chance to visit the Wildlife Rescue Center at the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque, and I took a picture of the various birds’ nests they had on display in their enclosed cabinet. I asked about the nests, and Sarah explained that their organization had the special permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their collection of nests. She confirmed what I had uncovered in my research about the permits and it made sense that an organization that rescues and cares for over 2000 birds annually, including eggs, would also collect nests.

During my research I also read that birds NOT protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act include House Sparrows, European Starlings, Domestic Pigeon or Rock Doves, Monk parakeets, Eurasian Collared Doves, and Canada Geese. Good to know, but then I have to ask myself: do I know enough about birds and their nests to identify one species’ nest from another?

I continue to be inspired by the book I purchased and, knowing what I now know after all my research, I’ve decided to refrain from collecting birds’ nests OF ANY KIND, and instead will use my trusty camera to “collect” them photographically.

12 Ways to Support National Bird Feeding Month

Did you know? The average wild bird weighs less than two nickels, and winter can be a very punishing time for our backyard friends.  This explains why in 1994, John Porter, Illinois’ 10th District Congressman read a resolution that February would become National Bird Feeding Month. His proclamation was designed to encourage people to feed wild birds throughout the entire month when food sources are most scarce.

In fact, millions of wild bird enthusiasts now traditionally make special efforts in February to feed, watch and protect wild birds. Over 50 million people regularly feed wild birds in the USA, long recognized as one of the most popular outdoor activities for adults and children too.

Want to show your support? Here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Help spread the word by sharing this post with everyone you know.
  2. Comment about National Bird Feeding Month on your Social Media Platforms.
  3. Take pictures of birds at your feeder and post them on your Social Media Platforms using #natlbirdfeedingmonth.
  4. Familiarize yourself with our unsung heroes and share your knowledge with others.
  5. Stock up on bird seed and suet to keep your existing feeders full throughout the month.
  6. Make this easy DIY bird feeder to pass out to friends and colleagues on Valentine’s Day.
  7. Give an inexpensive feeder and wild bird seed to someone you love.
  8. Add something new to your backyard station (i.e. birdhouse, feeder, birdbath).
  9. Symbolically adopt a bird through the National Wildlife Federation adoption program.
  10. Purchase your “I Love My Backyard Birds” women’s Tee to show your love of birds.
  11. Host a bird-watching party in your own backyard.
  12. Sign up for the Great Backyard Bird Count which will be held in February.

February is one of my favorite months of the year, and even more so because it’s National Bird Feeding Month. In fact, just last weekend I purchased another 80 lbs. of wild bird seed to stock up. Yep, we’re going through that much in about a month’s time, so if the birds aren’t in your backyard they’re probably in mine. Lol.

Anyway, I’m hoping you’ll jump on my bandwagon and do your part to feed the birds this month and promote backyard birding as and educational and environmental adventure. Because, February really is for the Birds! Literally.

Birds: The Unsung Heroes

Have you ever noticed how connecting with Birds just makes you feel better? Emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually? When we take time to admire the birds, we admire their beauty, their song, and their ability to fly.  We also admire their importance to the ecosystem. That’s right. Birds provide many direct and indirect contributions to the environment.  But what exactly are those contributions?

I pondered this question myself and I have to confess my embarrassment about not having a more elegant or scientific response. Other than just thoroughly enjoying every chance I get to observe the birds in my backyard and experience a deeper connection to God through them, I am sometimes at a loss for words to explain to others why birds matter so much. (Tell me I’m not alone in that! Lol).

In an article posted by the Audubon, I learned some interesting facts.  Did you know…

  • Birds contribute to the diversity of plant life through seed dispersal (most song birds) and pollination (900+ bird species worldwide).
  • Birds control insect outbreaks by consuming large quantities of mosquitoes, caterpillars, beetles, and moths, and are known to have saved many potato fields, fruit orchards, organic wineries, and cranberry bogs from insect devastation.
  • Birds help rid the world of disease through scavenger “clean-up” services, including roadkill produced on our roads and highways.
  • Birds stimulate economies and tourism in many parts of the world, spending some $41 billion annually on birding activities (including travel, technology, and education) in the U.S. alone.
  • Birds serve as indicators of environmental health and change to climate, habitat, and weather.
  • Bird as a hobby, including watching and learning their names and how to identify them, improves both cognition and mental health.
  • Birds serve as a subject of poetic meditation and focal point for various art forms, including water colored paintings, cross-stitched linens, antiqued brooches, and porcelain china.

The last ten years has seen an explosion of research on this subject, resulting in a strong body of evidence to support bird protection. “For better or worse, economic arguments tend to get more attention in political debates,” says Geoffrey Heal, a microeconomist at Columbia University Business School. The new research, he says, strengthens the case that “most environmental conservation, if well structured, actually does pay off directly.”

It turns out birds aren’t just luxuries for hobbyists or environmental fanatics. They’re actually unsung heroes.