As the spring season draws closer, both plants and animals will be returning or just passing through Chicago. Some of the most obvious visitors will be migratory birds as they fly north for the warmer months.
Flying hundreds or thousands of miles in a migration, birds face a number of dangers in their journeys north. In the spirit of being stewards of the environment, The Phoenix has some tips for you to help the birds as they travel through our area.
Birds migrate north to nest after spending the winter months in locations like Central and South America, where food sources like insects are available through the winter. The Chicago Botanic Garden highlights the time between March — when ducks begin migrating — to early May as spring migration time, with songbirds traveling mostly between April and May.
Here are just a few things college students can do to make the journey safer for them.
According to the National Audubon Society, most birds migrate at night and navigate using the sky. This means they’re also at risk for colliding with buildings or other light-emitting structures during their flight, so it’s best to keep your exterior lights off — or even bright interior lights on higher stories — to help them navigate.
The National Wildlife Refuge recommends keeping cats indoors as they pose an obvious danger to birds, and it can also help cats live longer if kept indoors. The organization also cautions against the use of pesticides in your yards or gardens as these could make birds ill through waterways or insects.
Inside your home, you can assist migrating birds by making your windows collision-proof. The American Bird Conservancy reports that up to one billion birds crash into glass windows every year in the United States alone, creating a major crisis for their safety. You can make existing windows safer by using thin tape to create patterns or apply special film created to deter birds from the windows.
If you’re looking to actively engage with the birds as they travel, you could also put out a hummingbird feeder or plant native flowers if you have access to a garden. These help birds refuel on their migration through nectar or insects that live in the plants.
As birds reach their nesting sites, some of which are on beaches, they’ll be laying eggs in areas frequented by many people. If you’re traveling for spring break, be careful where you’re walking and make sure all dogs are leashed when possible to prevent them from damaging nesting areas.
Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus also puts it right in the path of the migrating birds, with the Loyola Information Commons (IC) and Damen Student Center being the site of many bird collisions, The Phoenix reported. Film intended to reduce bird collisions was placed on Damen to help combat this, The Phoenix reported.