Washington Post – “…A study by ornithologists and other scientists released last month told us bird populations have crashed. Since 1970, the United States and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion, close to 30 percent fewer individuals. The losses are across habitats and species, though hardest hit are birds that inhabit the grasslands from Texas north into the Canadian prairie. The suspected causes? Habitat loss, more intensive agriculture and greater use of pesticides that kill the insects birds eat….The greatest value of bird feeding is to bring wild birds in proximity to us, so that we can develop an affinity for them.
Not all mixes are equal; striped sunflower, for example, is not favored by as many bird species as black-oil sunflower or hulled or chipped sunflowers, according to a three-year study, Project Wildbird. Project FeederWatch (feederwatch.org) has put together an infographic on common feeder birds and what their preferences are. Placement of feeders can be important — near shrub cover, but not where a stalking cat can hide, and close to a window, which will actually minimize window-strikes when birds seek cover from a swooping hawk, Greig said. If you really want to help birds, though, the way to do it is to mindfully develop your garden as a habitat where birds can find what they need to nest and raise young: food, cover and water year-round. One element of this is to not use pesticides. Another is to reduce the area of lawn in favor of bird-friendly plants…”