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Help birds complete their journey

Shorebirds are among the many migrants working their way through North America. 
 (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Shorebirds are among the many migrants working their way through North America. (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Rich Landers Outdoors Editor The Spokesman-Review

Many bird lovers in the Inland Northwest are rolling out the welcome mat for the spring migrants flocking into the region.

Some of these birds still have a long way to go, and they’ve already had to negotiate storms, food shortages and exhaustion.

So the least we can do is dim or turn downward the bright lights that can confuse their navigation instincts, bring in the family cat and avoid toxic additives to our lawns.

Here’s some other advice from the National Audubon Society.

Prevent window collisions: Many birds strike windows after being startled off a feeder, seeing escape routes mirrored in reflective glass. To avoid this, reduce reflectivity with light-colored shades, blinds, or drapes; place netting or a screen in front of the window; or stick decals closely spaced to the outside of windows.

Place bird feeders either within 3 feet or more than 30 feet of windows. At 3 feet birds do not have enough distance to reach a high speed and are therefore less likely to get injured in a collision; at more than 30 feet, they are less likely to be attracted to reflections in the window.

Avoid pesticides: U.S. households each year douse their homes and gardens with 110 million pounds of pesticides, which kill several million birds each year when the birds ingest tainted insects, seeds and other food sources. Use the least toxic alternatives for combating pests.

Keep feeders clean: Feeders and water sources enable migrants to rest and refuel. Adding a drip to a bird bath or pool greatly increases its attractiveness to migratory birds as it adds noise and movement.

Reduce the risk of spreading disease at feeders by regularly cleaning them with a nine-to-one water-bleach solution, or a dilute vinegar solution (three-to-one) or non-fragranced biodegradable soap.

And once again, keep cats indoors: The American Bird Conservancy estimates that otherwise well-fed domestic cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. Ground feeding birds, such as robins and quail, as well as young, immature birds, are the most vulnerable.

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