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article imageBird friendly gardens can cause more harm than good

By Tim Sandle     Aug 7, 2016 in Environment
Plenty of books and magazine articles encourage people to design their gardens in different ways to attract more birds. A new study suggests this can often causes harm to birds.
There are different ways a homeowner can make a garden more ‘bird friendly.’ This ranges from certain flowers, fitting bird feeders, or installing bird houses. However, what is fitted to keep the households amused and what might be seen as a good deed, could actually be harming birds.
This surprising statement is based on a study looking at bird collisions with windows. Researchers have estimated that between 365 million and 988 million birds die each year in the U.S. from colliding with windows. At least half of these relate to family homes.
Interesting Facts (@TrueHiddenFacts) "Over 1,000 birds a day die from smashing into windows."
Recent research has attempted to work out what makes one home more likely to see a bird collision than another. For this they enlist volunteer citizen scientists from the Alberta area in Canada.
The volunteers, Science News reports, took notes of bird collisions and sent information about the layout of the their surroundings, including garden designs (if they had backyards), presence of bird feeders and so on.
In total the volunteers collected 34,114 days of monitoring data. From this, 930 collisions were recorded and there were 102 bird deaths. The analysis pinpointed three key factors that accounted for a higher likelihood of bird deaths:
Location in a rural setting;
The height of the yard’s vegetation;
The presence of a birdfeeder.
Science News (@ScienceNews) "Making a yard more attractive to birds can also lure them straight into your windows."
The reason is simply that the above factors make the environment more attractive to birds and so birds visit such areas in higher numbers. However, the birds are unable to see windows, which makes for the chance of collision more likely. Changing one factor is unlikely to make a huge difference, since each factor carries a similar chance of attracting more birds to the vicinity of the home.
The findings are published in the journal Condor. The research paper is titled “Use of citizen science to identify factors affecting bird–window collision risk at houses.”
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