Dangers for Birds

DANGER from Windows The number of birds killed by striking windows may surprise you. In the United States it is estimated that as many as a billion birds are killed that way each year.   Windows on residential homes and city skyscrapers can be deadly to birds. Every year many birds come into bird rescue centres after having hit windows. Indeed research indicates that daytime window collisions with low-level structures account for anywhere from one hundred million to one billion bird fatalities — of both migrant and resident species — in the United States each year.   What is more any single, tall building could be killing 2,000 birds a year. The research has also shown that these collisions occur during all seasons, all times of day and with windows facing any direction.   There are no figures available for New Zealand but individual experience would indicate a similar massive problem.   However, some birds, more than others, seem to be susceptible to window strike. The Kereru (New Zealand pigeon) is a frequent casualty as well as the Kotare (kingfisher) and the introduced song thrush. But birds like the introduced house sparrow seldom if ever strike windows which may have something to do with their spatial intelligence.   What can be done to help prevent strike: Home owners and perhaps even office workers can take some steps to minimize the danger that windows pose to birds.   One may place falcon, owl or spiderweb decals on the windows. They are not totally effective but they do help. Hanging a sun catcher or streamers of shiny, reflective plastic ribbon or strips of black garbage bags in front of problem windows can also be very effective as is simply letting windows get dirty.   Another option is to use interior coverings such as blinds and curtains, although this will only make a difference when the sun is shining directly on the window; if it’s darker on the inside of a window than on the outside, the pane will reflect like a mirror.   A few dead branches in front of a problem window may help. The branches will reflect, but they’ll also slow the bird down a bit and enhance its chances of survival.   Planting a shade tree or some shrubbery will serve the same purpose, as will an awning.   How to help a bird that is stunned: Many birds that strike windows are just stunned and will recover with a bit of help.   The first thing to do is rescue the bird from cats, some of which learn to recognize the thud of a bird striking glass as a potential meal.   Placing the injured or stunned bird somewhere dark and warm is necessary to help the bird recover - the hot water cupboard or simply the pocket of the jacket one is wearing.
DANGER from Introduced Predators Introduced predators come in the form of many things: man, dogs, cats, possums, mustalids (ferret, stoat and weasel), rats, pigs, hedgehogs to name but a few.
Dangers caused by Man:
  • Setting traps for possums on the ground and catching kiwi and other birds.
  • Shooting birds illegally.
  • Killing seabirds competing for fish.
  • Harvesting birds illegally.
  • Destroying beach dunes with vehicles, putting nesting shorebirds at risk.
  • Leaving rubbish and fishing line, with or without hooks, for birds to be caught in.
  • Dumping dogs, cats and ferrets etc.
What you can do:
  • Set traps off the ground so kiwi and the like will not be caught.
  • Do not shoot birds out of the shooting season and then only shoot species that you are allowed.
  • Do not kill seabirds.
  • Do not harvest birds that are protected.
  • Please do not take your vehicles onto the dunes or beaches. Dotterel and other shorebirds breed on the sand above high tide mark, and it is very hard to see their eggs or chicks.
  • Take away your litter with you.
  • Do not leave used motor oil uncovered.
  • Before pruning trees check to make sure it is free of birds nests.
  • Take care when using the roads, many hawks are killed or maimed while eating carrion on the highways. Slow down, if possible.
  • Keep a grill on chimneys and pipes to stop birds falling down or building nests in them.
  • If you have an unwanted pet please take it to your nearest animal welfare centre. Do not dump the animal.
Dangers caused by Dogs:
  • Allowing dogs to roam. (In 1987 one roaming dog killed up to 500 kiwi in the Waitangi State Forest Northland in six weeks).
  • Taking dogs into dog free areas.
  • Not controlling dogs on beaches and allowing them to chase and catch seabirds.
What you can do:
  • Only take your dog/s where allowed, and keep them under control at all times.
  • Make sure you know where your dog is at all times.
  • Do not allow your dog to roam.
  • Reward the dog for good behavior.
  • Do not dump unwanted dogs, take them to an animal care centre.
Dangers caused by Cats: Cats are more of a problem. Unlike dogs most are not easily controled. They will catch birds even when they are not hungry. If they do not kill the bird after catching it, the fright will often kill the bird, as will any scratch that the cat makes on the bird — probably requiring professional attention and anti-biotics.
What you can do:
  • Think about not replacing you cat when it dies.
  • Have your cat neutered.
  • If your cat catches birds, try a cat collar with bell or a bird alarm collar. (This may give some warning to the bird).
  • Use an outside run for your cat, thereby keeping the cat safe outdoors and the birds safe from the cat. This is an excellent idea especially if you are nearby bush or forest areas.
  • Catch unwanted feral cats and take them to an animal care centre.
  • Do not dump unwanted cats.
  • If a cat keeps coming into your garden against your wishes, try squirting water at the cat.
Dangers caused by other predators: There are of course many other dangers that birds will encounter. Possum, rats, mustalids among them. For predator pest advice ring your local Recional Council for advice