Enjoy Wildlife In Your Backyard!

Posted: Friday, March 04, 2011

Are you thrilled by the sight of wildlife in its natural environment? If so, you don’t need to travel for the experience. With a little effort, your own backyard can become a stopover for some of North America’s most colorful wildlife.

Fall and spring are migratory season in America as flocks of birds migrate between hemispheres. Like any weary traveler, these natives look for places to rest and refuel. Welcoming them to your yard is a way to protect our natural heritage and enjoy their beauty at the same time.

“Transforming your yard or garden into a wildlife refuge is fun,”says Spencer Schock, Founder of WindowAlert, makers of bird-friendly products for homes. “Children love an outdoor project and the sight of wild birds adds dazzle to your family’s seasonal experience.”

Here are some tips for watching and keeping birds safe during migration:

  • Birds migrate because of food, not weather. The cooler months make it more difficult to find sustenance, so placing a bird feeder in your backyard with water and high energy foods like meal worms, black oil sunflower seeds, or suet will help them complete their journey.
  • Birds don’t just take one long flight. They need lots of stopover and staging areas during their travels. Encourage them to linger in your backyard by providing shelter, such as a bird house. Opt for water-repellant bird houses with hinged roofs so the house can be cleaned after nesting. Avoid perches, which make birds easy prey for predators like cats.

Man-made structures, even in rural areas, can be hazardous to migrating birds. For example, birds don’t “see” clear glass and as a consequence, millions of birds worldwide die every year when striking glass. To protect birds from hitting your windows, you can apply special decals that reflect ultraviolet sunlight, such as those made by WindowAlert. The decals have the appearance of frosted glass—so they won’t ruin your view —but glow like a stoplight for birds, with their unique ability to see ultraviolet rays.

The best way to enjoy wildlife is to avoid interfering in any way. To do so, invest in good binoculars and get out in the early morning when birds are most active. A field guide book can help you identify the creatures you see.

Record-keeping is not just for ornithologists. By keeping a journal of feeding and housing patterns of birds populating your backyard, you can be better prepared for next year. In addition, consider becoming a “citizen scientist” by submitting your observations to The Audubon Society and Cornell University’s database at ebird.org.

For more information on making your home and garden a bird haven, visit WindowAlert.com or call 877-733-2753.

“There are many ways to assist birds on their journey, from installing birdbaths to applying window decals,” says Schock. “Once you have made a few modifications, don’t forget to enjoy that flash of color by the feeder.”

Birding in the Hudson Valley

Once you tackle bird watching in your own backyard, you may want to test your skills and get involved with local Hudson Valley Bird watching clubs. The Orange County Audubon Society in Middletown mission is “to create interest in flora, fauna, and all natural beauty in Orange County and vicinity.”

The Society’s website includes loads of bird watching tips and lists field trips that are open to the public. Here are a few upcoming events:

  • Sunday, March 27 at 9:30am

Liberty Loop Trail on Oil City Rd. Part of the Wallkill River NWR

From Goshen take Rte 17A to Pulaski Highway (Rte 6), at big cross road and traffic light take a right, bear left on Liberty Corners Rd, turn right on Oil City Rd. The club will be on the left at the parking lot and viewing platform. Rain or snow cancels.

  • Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 at 7pm

Highland Lake State Park

From Rte. 211 East turn left on Goshen Tpk., to right on Scotchtown-Collabar Rd (there is no sign—it has a traffic light and a church and cemetery on the left), turn right on Tamms Road, go up hill, past the curve, and pull into a parking lot. The club is looking for Woodcocks on this outing. Bring a flash light.

The Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club in Dutchess County also lists their bird watching field trips on their website. The club advises that you dress for the weather and bring lunch and any beverage you prefer. Any inclement weather will cancel the walks. There are many trips listed on their website, but here are a few upcoming walks. Please contact the club before attending events, member’s email addresses are listed online.

  • Wednesday, March 9

RTWBC Field trip—Mills Mansion

Meet at the Mansion parking lot, Staatsburg, at 9am.

  • Tuesday, March 15

RTWBC Field trip—Woodcock Watch—Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Meet at the Gifford House, Rte. 44A, Millbrook at 7pm.

  • Wednesday, March 23

RTWBC Field trip- Harlem Valley Rail Trail

Meet at parking lot off Mechanic St., Amenia at 9am.

Reporting from Bridget Schultz of Hudson Valley Life in conjunction with State Point Media.

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