The Most Frequently-Asked Questions about Birds

from the San Antonio Audubon Society

 

General Questions

How do I attract more birds and butterflies to my yard?
You can stop by a local bird store and ask the staff for ideas and suggestions. Read all about how you can landscape for wildlife by using native plants at <http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/nature/wildscapes/>.

Why are there no birds in the backyard or at my feeders?
There are lots of answers for this question and they all involve more questions. Is there cover for the birds to hide in? Is there a predator (cat or hawk) in the area? Is there a lot of natural food available to the birds? Has the really cold weather arrived up North to push the birds down to Texas?

Are all birds protected by law even if they are not endangered?
In a word, "Yes." All native birds in the U.S. are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (among others). Only non-native birds such as Starlings, Pigeons, and House Sparrows receive zero protection. For more information, see this page from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

 

Nuisance Birds

How do I stop a woodpecker from chiseling holes in my house?
Put up a woodpecker nest box. See: <http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/wildlife_habitat/pdf_docs/nuisance_woodpeckers.pdf>.

How do I stop a Cardinal from pecking on my windows?
The bird sees its own reflection in the glass and reacts unfavorably toward the presumed intruder. Have some kids draw natural predator faces (like a growling, teeth-showing cat) and tape these images to the inside of the window(s) where the bird pecks. More advice, from Bird Watcher's Digest.

How do I get rid of the Barn Swallows nesting over my front door?
If they are already there, it is illegal to harass them or destroy the nest. Enjoy the show and try using another door for a couple of weeks. Remove all horizontal ledges the following winter, but remember that these birds are helpful insect eaters!

 

Injured or Abandoned Birds

What do I do with an orphaned baby bird?
Leave it alone because the parents could be nearby. Keep the pets and kids far away from nests and nestlings. Check here for more information.

What do I do with an injured bird?
If it is an injured hawk or owl, contact Last Chance Forever at (210) 344-8259. For other birds, contact Wildlife Rescue and Rehab at (210) 698-1709, or check the TPWD web site for a list of licensed rehabilitators nearby.

Birds and Cats

How do outside cats affect bird population?
Consult the American Bird Conservancy website: http://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/cats-and-birds/

The New Birder

What kind of binoculars should I get?
Here are some great websites with lots of information: <http://www.binoculars101.com>, <http://www.optics4birding.com> and <http://www.betterviewdesired.com>.

What field guide should I buy?
One with color art, not photos, is recommended. There are many top-sellers like the bird guides by the National Geographic Society, Golden Press, David Sibley, Roger Tory Peterson, and more. Look here for a list with descriptions.

When is the best time to go birding?
Go any time, any season. Start at home, but remember that birds are just about everywhere.

Where can I get basic information on birds and birding?
Do the following: attend a meeting of the local bird club or go on a field trip, buy a bird book, visit the local library, and surf the web. There's a wealth of information already out there, so you can do your homework. Here are some places to start:

Birds Birding

This information was originally compiled by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department <www.tpwd.state.tx.us> and adapted with permission by San Antonio Audubon Society. No endorsements are intended.


 

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