Environment
6:13 am
Mon April 16, 2012

National Aviary's Steps for Safe Bird Migration

Every spring, birds migrate thousands of miles to cooler climates, and there are simple steps that humans can take to make their journey as safe as possible.

Robert Mulvihill, Conservation Outreach Manager at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, says there are more than 100 kinds of birds migrating through western Pennsylvania at night during this time of year.

"What's important from the standpoint of what we do as people is to provide safe places for these migrating birds to land and to be able to hide from and escape from predators and to be able to find enough food to replenish all the energy they have expended in reaching us," Mulvihill said.

He explains that the trends in bird migration are changing, and could be getting worse. The particularly warm month of March, Mulvihill says, made birds migrate northward at a more rapid pace.

"We're beginning to see some shifts in the timing of bird migration that may or may not be related to long-term trends in climate," Mulvihill said. "Certainly this spring was a really early spring."

Mulvihill says a back yard can be transformed into a more bird-friendly one by planting fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, but one of the most important steps is keeping felines indoors.

"Cats are marvelous hunters; far too good," Mulvihill said. "When migrating birds come down after a long night's migration they're understandably tired and they can easily fall prey to predators."

He suggested other steps to protect bird migration patterns, include removing plants from indoor windowsills and turning off unnecessary lighting at night. Additionally, homes with large windows should be lightly fogged with a soapy mix or covered with blinds to prevent bird impacts.