TAKE ACTION AND HELP TORONTO'S BIRDS
LEARN ABOUT BIRDS
Empower yourself to help birds by learning about them. Field guides, online tools, mobile apps and local organizations can open doors to opportunities to help birds and enrich your life. Toronto Bird Celebration events are a great way to learn about birds and their conservation needs.
ADVOCATE FOR BIRDS
Consider supporting regional and national conservation campaigns, and becoming a member of an organization working to help birds and their habitats.
KEEP CATS SAFE AND SAVE BIRDS' LIVES
Cats can make great pets, but as introduced predators they do not belong in nature in North America. An estimated 100-350 million birds are killed each year by cats in Canada. Free-roaming domestic cats have caused the extinction of at least 36 species of birds, mammals and lizards to date (PNAS 2016). Outdoor cats live shorter, harsher lives than indoor cats. Cats roaming at large in Toronto face many risks including collisions with vehicles, being attacked and eaten by coyotes or raptors, contracting infectious diseases or parasites, the effects of extreme weather and secondary rodenticide poisoning. Keep your cats indoors or consider building a catio. More information is available here.
MAKE YOUR GARDEN BIRD-FRIENDLY
You can help provide habitat for birds by incorporating bird-friendly practices into gardening. Plant species that are native to your region and remove invasive non-native species. Include a source of fresh water and a birdhouse. Don't use pesticides or herbicides, especially in the spring when birds are nesting. Add a pollinator garden, which also attracts a variety of birds such as hummingbirds. You can also help restore habitat in public spaces by volunteering with the city of Toronto or the Toronto Nature Stewards.
PREVENT BIRD-WINDOW COLLISIONS
Windows are deadly to birds. At night, lighted windows attract and kill migratory birds. During the day birds see only the reflected foliage or sky, causing them to collide. Turn out lights at night and explore the different ways you can make windows visible to birds. Move attractants like bird feeders to a safe distance from windows and other glass surfaces. Information about bird-window collisions, including how to prevent them and where to report them, is available on FLAP Canada's website.
DO NOT USE RODENTICIDE (RAT POISON)
Rodenticides kill rodents and other mammals by preventing normal blood clotting, causing hemorrhaging, or disturbing nervous system functions. These compounds are enhanced with attractive flavors and colours, are to attract unwanted wildlife, leading to their death. In addition to rats, small animals including songbirds are known to access bait boxes containing these poisons. This is contaminating the food chain and wider ecosystem. Owls and other raptors are at a high risk of secondary poisoning because of their dependence on rodents as a food source. A recent study found detectable levels of one or more rodenticides in 62% of raptors in Ontario. Simply put, rat poison is raptor poison. Rodenticide Free Ontario is working to raise awareness about this, with a goal of banning the use of rodenticides in Ontario.
USE LESS PLASTIC
Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, polluting our oceans and harming wildlife such as seabirds, whales and turtles that mistakenly eat plastic or become entangled in it. Cigarette lighters, toothbrushes and other plastic waste has been found in the stomachs of dead albatrosses. Avoid single-use plastics. It is far better to choose reusable items but if you have disposable plastic be sure to recycle it.
JOIN A CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT
Scientists need timely data to know how birds are faring. Volunteer for a bird monitoring program. Or join a project such as eBird, iNaturalist, or Project Feeder Watch to record your bird observations.
BUY BIRD-FRIENDLY COFFEE
Many of the songbirds we enjoy during the summer spend their winters on coffee plantations in Central and South America. Most large-scale coffee farming is done under full sun with acres of monocultures grown using pesticides. This is not sustainable farming and depletes the habitat the birds depend on. One of the easiest ways to support the international conservation of bird habitat is to replace your current coffee choice with Bird Friendly coffee, which is shade-grown, organic coffee that has been certified by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.