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My Column: Make Your Yard Bird-friendlier

My column for The Record and other USA Today newspapers in NJ today explains five ways to make your yard bird-friendlier in 2022 -- with a photo by Barbara Dilger (above). Thanks, Barbara!

Here it is:

By Jim Wright
Special to The Record

    You’ve probably heard about how bird populations Wright BirdWatcher TheRecord_20220127_LF03 in the U.S. and Canada have fallen by 29 percent in the past half-century. Don’t just sit there and bemoan the decline of the birds around us.

Here are five ways to begin 2022 by helping the birds (and other creatures) in your own yard.

   1. Reduce the “cide” effects. Stop using any product in your yard that ends with the suffix “cide” – as in pesticide, herbicide and rodenticide. The suffix denotes poison, and these poisons are not nearly as specific as their manufacturers would like you to believe.

   Pesticides kill all sorts of insects, including butterflies and dragonflies. 

   Rodenticides also kill pets, raptors and other wildlife. 

   Herbicides kill more than weeds, and some weed killers have been found to cause cancer in humans.    

   And guess what: These poisons typically make their way into our groundwater. 

    2. Make your windows bird-friendlier. Researchers estimate that 160 million to 440 million birds die in the United States die each year from flying into residential windows.  

    Daniel Klem, the leading expert on bird-safe windows and author of the new book, "Solid Air," offers three ways you can help reduce the death toll:

     * If you have window screens, keep them up year-round.  They keep birds from striking the unyielding glass surface. 

     * Where bird-window collisions occur, apply products like Feather Friendly window markers a few inches apart on the outside of the window.

     * Hang products like Acopian BirdSavers (parachute cords) on your larger bird-prone windows.  

    (You can Google either product for more info.)  

    3. Give your yard a makeover. Take a plant inventory of your yard and gradually replace most non-native plants with native ones. Habitat loss is a major cause of birds’ decline. Non-native plants (and huge, chemically treated lawns) aren’t helping matters. 

    4. Install a birdbath. Birds need water for drinking and bathing. If you don’t live near water, consider installing a birdbath. You can buy one with a heating element online or at a bird-supply store. Prices start under $50.

5. Keep your cat inside. When I lived in Warwick, N.Y., I used to let my cats outside -- to my eternal regret. At least two were killed by cars, and a third likely died from eating a poisoned critter. Those are just two of the many reasons that Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge and other groups that put cats up for adoption require that their cats stay indoors,

   You’re probably thinking: Some of these suggestions sound like a pain in the neck. How you proceed is up to you. It’s a free country. Do what works, keeping in mind that we share the planet with other creatures, and our lives are all the richer for it.

   How else do you plan to help birds this year? Please let me know at the email address below.

The Bird Watcher column appears every other Thursday. Email Jim at