birds

Climate Watch

The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove & Valley Forge Audubon Society is excited to partner with Elmwood Park Zoo on Audubon’s Climate Watch, a community science program that explores how North American birds are responding to climate change!

Come to a FREE training session to learn how to play a role in helping birds around the continent!

Join us to learn how to collect data that will validate the current projections of Audubon’s climate models. Once trained on how to use our bird watching protocols to count bluebirds and nuthatches, you can get started!

Training date:
Tuesday, May 7th : 6:00-7:00pm @ Elmwood Park Zoo

***Please email Erin Rackovan, our Climate Watch Coordinator, at erackovan@elmwoodparkzoo.org for more information or to register.

Not a birder? Not a problem! ALL ARE WELCOME!

 

 

In 2014, Audubon released the Audubon Birds and Climate Change report highlighting the risks that climate change poses to birds across North America. In response, thousands of people asked how they could help make the world a better place for birds. Since the program’s launch in 2016, hundreds of dedicated Climate Watch volunteers have traversed habitats across the U.S. to look for bluebirds and nuthatches, our two target species.

Why Should We Count Birds?

As we grow closer to February’s “Great Backyard Bird Count,” it’s easy to wonder about the importance of counting birds. How can something so simple really make a difference for the habitats and livelihood of birds? Can an individual really help out thousands of birds colonies around the country? Short answer: YES! 

How can counting birds make a difference?

Scientists, conservationists, and bird enthusiasts can all gain a lot from the data reflected in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Especially given the fact that they are a flighted animal, numbers on bird populations are always changing. There’s little chance that one small group of scientists could accurately keep track of all of the changing bird patterns throughout a year. That’s where the citizen-scientists come in! The more data that comes in, the easier it is for scientists to track patterns and similarities across the board for these bird species. This data helps them answer important questions on a variety of subjects, including the ones below:

  • Climate change and how it affects populations
  • Habitat locations
  • Migration patterns
  • Bird diseases
  • Bird diversity in rural, suburban, and urban areas

What is the Great Backyard Bird Count?

According to the official website: “Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.”

Great Backyard Bird Count at EPZ

Register for a free and interactive bird-counting session at the zoo with our education department! Learn more here! 

Written by: Ali Chiavetta

Source: GBBC website

Living a Bird-Friendly Life

We see probably an average of 100 birds throughout our day, but how many of us truly take notice to these fantastic feathered friends? Birds play a crucial role in our ecosystem, so protecting them is important! While we may not all be natural born birdwatchers, there are easy steps we can take in everyday life in order to better protect our flying friends! 

Check out these three tips on how to live a more bird-friendly life:

keep your cats indoors

This is a big one, and one that many cat owners may not even think about. When cats are let outdoors, they become a non-native and invasive species, threatening birds and other wildlife, disrupting the natural ecosystem, and even potentially spreading disease. It is estimated that cats kill 2.4 million birds every year. Though it may seem harmless to let your cat outside for a bit of fresh air, such a simple choice can have a list of negative consequences. To keep both your cat and wild birds safer, opt for an enclosed outdoor space (often referred to as a “catio”), a harness for your cat, or increased indoor enrichment to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

For more safe solutions for pet cats, check out the American Bird Conservancy’s page

Stop birds from hitting windows

Up to 1 billion birds die each year from hitting windows, and other glass reflective surfaces. That number is huge, and severely impactful on bird populations, but fortunately, this is one of the easiest problems to solve! By investing in products that break up the blank space of your window, you can greatly reduce the chances that a confused bird will fly into it! 

The American Bird Conservancy has tested a variety of bird-friendly window products so you don’t have to! Check out their full list here

COFFEE

purchase bird-friendly coffee

If you’re addicted to coffee, you’re not alone. Americans drink 1/3 of the world’s supply of coffee. While your morning cup of joe may be a necessity for you, choosing the right kind of coffee is a necessity for bird populations. Next time you’re in the supermarket shopping for coffee, look for certain kinds marked “shade-grown”. Traditional “sun coffee” might be a bit cheaper to buy, but this inexpensive variety takes a large toll on rainforest biodiversity (not to mention the rural families and small local businesses the industry bulldozes). Shade-grown coffee is not only a much healthier option for the birds, but  it also tastes much richer in your mug!

To learn more about the beneficial impacts of shade-grown coffee, please click here.

Info source: American Bird Conservancy

Written by Ali Chiavetta