Anna’s Hummingbird; Photo: Vera Markham

Our Sonoran Desert landscape has been altered from its natural state. Buildings have been erected where once there was open wilderness. Land has been transformed into cement and ecologically unproductive gardens. As a result, bird and other wildlife’s habitat has become fragmented into pieces. Birds have to settle with far less than they once had. Some species are unable to cope with this huge change and crawl closer to extinction. However, it does not need to be this way. Humans and wildlife can co-evolve with little compromise from either end.

To help build a natural ecosystem where birds can thrive, you can create your very own native garden. Native plants are able to provide birds with food, shelter, and resources. In addition, plants that are native to Arizona are less likely to spread disease and pests from different ecosystems. To learn more about how you can use native plants for birds, please visit our Plants for Birds page.

Another way to implement bird-friendly practices is to utilize decals on windows. Millions of birds die per year as a result of colliding with windows. Due to the reflectiveness of windows, birds are unable to discern the difference between windows and open skies. Most bird-window collisions are fatal. You can prevent these deaths by using adhesives on the outside of your windows and advocate for your city to adopt these practices as well. This way, birds are able to determine that they are not able to fly safely through these windows. Windows prove to be an issue at night, too. Birds migrating at night may become distracted by the lights of buildings and collide with windows in their confusion. Thus, it is important to keep the lights off at night and urge your city to sanction a Lights Off Program. You can learn more about the Lights Off Program and how you can help at Audubon’s website. To help document bird-window collisions, you can report observations to the iNaturalist project.

Burrowing Owl; Photo: Bob McCormick

Some bird species are left homeless after the expansion of urbanization. You can help these birds by supporting local organizations who build these birds new homes or by purchasing and/or building some of these structures yourself. For example, Wild at Heart Raptors constructs artificial burrows for Burrowing Owls. You can support them monetarily or volunteer your time to help them build artificial burrows. You can also build or purchase birdhouses for songbirds and nest boxes for raptors.

Arizona Woodpecker; Photo: Kathy Dashiell

Word of mouth is another useful method for creating bird-friendly communities. By telling people more about birds, you inspire. A learning experience can spark wonder in people. Spreading knowledge is the way to get others connected with a topic they are unfamiliar with — in this case, birds. In this case, “bird is the word.” Share all of your fun bird facts to all that will listen. To learn more about what you can do to build a bird-friendly community, visit Audubon’s website.