Haliburton Highlands Land Trust
“My Backyard” challenges online.
Their theme for June is birds and animals that fly. They are challenging people of all ages to go and explore their backyard or favourite outdoor place, being mindful of the province’s guidelines for COVID-19.
They urge people to send photos of birds or animals that fly to their Facebook page, May and June Challenges, post or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org using ‘My Backyard’ in the subject line.
At the end of the challenges, the HHLT will announce winners.
The first Land Trust Discovery Days online program will be Bird Boxes with Thom Lambert. Lambert will be filmed installing a bird box. Along with the video, the Land Trust will post some bird box patterns in case people would like to build one themselves. “Watch for the video on our website later in May,” the Land Trust said on May 8.
Tips to Help Our Feathered Friends
Strange as it may sound, brushing the dog is one of those little things we can do to help returning birds get a head start on spring.
It isn’t that they like to see a well-groomed pooch. What birds like the iconic blue jay like most are the clumps of hair that come out of the brush. Cleaning your dog brush outside provides superb nesting materials for birds, making it just a little easier for them to build their nests.
Here are a few other things you can do to roll out the welcome mat as we all #StayHome… and get in a little birdwatching, one of the top things to do in the Haliburton Highlands in springtime.
Clean the Nesting Boxes
Man-made nesting boxes are a great help to cavity-nesting species. But boxes that still have debris from last year’s tenants can also be home to fungus, bacteria, or parasites. Be a good landlord and clean out any old nesting materials (best to wear gloves and a mask). If there are any signs of mold, a quick wash with detergent will help keep your new tenants healthy.
Don’t have any nesting boxes? Click here to find some great plans from Ontario Nature.
Top Up the Birdfeeders
Migrating is one of the toughest things birds do. They pass through thousands of kilometres of territory, often not eating for days as they travel. When they arrive, they need to quickly restore their energy levels so they can get ready for nesting. A buffet of seeds, suet, and other treats is just the thing.
Keep Kitty Indoors
She may not look it, but your cat is a deadly killing machine. Because cats don’t just kill when they’re hungry, a typical house cat can kill an estimated 10 to 12 birds a day. That adds up to 200 million birds in Canada alone every year – the biggest cause of bird deaths by far. And sorry, but bells on a cat’s collar have been shown to have little or no effect.
Pull the Blinds
Tall office towers aren’t the only things birds collide with as they’re migrating. Well-lit homes and cottages are also a problem. Many birds migrate at night, and are attracted to the light streaming from the window. Pulling the blinds can save some birds (as well as helping combat other woes of light pollution). Ribbons in the windows or temporary pattern decals can help birds avoid the glass during the day.
Fatal Light Awareness Program Canada has some great resources available to help make your home bird safe. Also, be sure to check out the self-assessment tool at https://birdsafe.ca/homeowner-self-assessment/.
Plant Native Species
Feeders are great, but native plants are an even better resource. Dogwood and Joe Pye Weed, Saskatoon berries and cedars are just the beginning. There are all kinds of plants that can enhance your landscape and provide birds with a home or food throughout the year. North American Native Plant Society is one of many great resources.
Let Old Trees Be
Woodpeckers and other insect-eaters thrive on the bugs they gather from dead trees. Other birds make their nests in the holes the birds create. Dead standing trees are like a high-rise apartment building with grocery stores every few floors. If you have one on your property, and it’s not a safety hazard, consider leaving it alone.
Cap Your Vents
If you don’t have a cap on your chimney, you should install one. Otherwise, birds and small mammals can get trapped inside. The result is unpleasant for you, and deadly for them.