The Bird-Friendly Spaces Program Actions
Your actions matter! Something that you think is a simple action can make a big difference for birds. To join the Bird-Friendly Spaces Program, you must complete at least 3 different actions that fall under at least 2 of the 3 different categories below. Once you have completed at least 3 actions, you're ready to fill out the free application!
Click on the tabs below to review the definitions for all the bird-friendly actions.
Create Inviting Habitat
Install and maintain a water feature
Adding a water feature to your landscape is one of the best ways to attract birds. There are many different forms of water features for all spaces and budgets, including bubbling rocks, shallow ponds, bird baths, or a simple tray or bird drip. Be sure to keep the water clean! Cleaning the water feature often is important for maintenance and can reduce harmful bacteria growth.
Plant native plants
Planting native plants is one of the most important things you can do to establish a healthy habitat. Native plants are indigenous to the region, like Texas Grama, Little Bluestem, and Yaupon Holly, and they provide a basis for our local food chain. Planting a diversity of native plants will attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your garden and provide important ecological services.
Remove invasive plants in space OR around space if indoor only
Invasive plants can overpopulate your space quickly and outcompete native plant species that attract more birds and insects. Removing invasive plant species like Chinese Elm, Elephant Ear, and Pampas Grass can allow native species to reestablish and provide more benefit to the environment. If you do not have an outdoor space, you can still help by removing invasive species around your space! Invasive species do not know borders and can be found on your walk to work, in your apartment complex's garden beds, or in nearby parks. Contact us to learn more about how you can volunteer to remove invasive plants in your community.
Setup and maintain a bird feeder OR provide food for birds in a nearby space if indoor only
There are many different feeders you can choose from, including tube feeders, platforms, and hummingbird feeders. Be sure to clean out your bird feeder regularly and keep it dry to minimize bacteria growth. If you have an indoor space, you can still feed birds in green spaces nearby. Ask your apartment complex about installing a bird feeder that you agree to maintain, or check out suction cup hummingbird feeders that stick to the outside of your window.
Install and maintain nest boxes or natural nesting locations (i.e. snags)
Cavity nesters such as Eastern Screech Owls, Carolina Wrens, and Carolina Chickadees may nest in boxes and can provide a delightful learning opportunity as adults fly back and forth feeding the young. Larger properties may install Chimney Swift Towers or Purple Martin Houses. Ideally, larger properties would leave tree snags for these nests and food for birds such as woodpeckers.
Volunteer at a native plant event
Volunteering to help with native plant restoration projects or native plants open houses can help increase the footprint of native plants through your community. Local native nurseries like Houston Audubon's Native Nursery can help guide you to different native planting event opportunities in your area. Contact us today for more information on volunteering!
Connect With Others
Current Houston Audubon member
Visit HoustonAudubon.org to learn more about becoming a Houston Audubon member. Member benefits include birding trips, admission to Houston Audubon's Raptor and Education Center, discount on merchandise and native plants at the Natives Nursery, and much more. Becoming a member of Houston Audubon will allow you to learn more about bird-friendly opportunities and allow Houston Audubon to continue their work in creating a bird-friendly community.
Educate others as a bird-friendly ambassador at school or work
Bird-friendly ambassadors are vital in establishing a bird-friendly community. Not everyone is connected to Houston Audubon, and it is likely that many may miss the news about the Bird-Friendly Spaces Program. Your word-of-mouth can help our message reach more people and encourage more bird-friendly actions throughout all the spaces you occupy. Educating classmates or coworkers on bird-friendly actions like reducing plastic use or using a bird-friendly coffee can inspire others, and it might be the first step in establishing a new interest in creating another bird-friendly space!
Contribute regularly to community science (eBird, iNaturalist, etc.)
Community science (also known as citizen science, crowd science, or volunteer monitoring) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by nonprofessional scientists. That means YOU can help conduct important research that will directly contribute to the understanding of bird population health and conservation in our region! There are a number of ways you can get involved in community science projects across our region. The most common way you can become a community scientist is by logging your birding efforts on apps like eBird and iNaturalist. Check out our Community Science page under the "Get Involved" tab to learn more about community science opportunities.
Participate in monthly bird surveys
Urban bird surveys occur in many locations around the Houston area, and most are open to beginners! This is a great way to learn more about birding and get hands-on experience in bird identification. No prior experience is required! Surveys often occur monthly, with some meeting more often. Visit our Birding Hotspot and Survey Map under the "Birding" tab to find a survey near you!
Attend a class on subjects like birding, bird-friendly communities, or native plants within the last year
Classes, workshops, and webinars are great ways to learn about what it takes to create a bird-friendly space. Houston Audubon hosts multiple webinars throughout the year and educational classes on a variety of topics including birding, bird-friendly communities, and native plants. Visit https://houstonaudubon.org/programs/virtual-programs.html to learn about upcoming virtual programs and other educational opportunities.
Active on social media bird page
Birding Facebook pages and other social media groups provide a way for you to learn about bird news within your area as well as share you own information. A great way to start is to join the Bird-Friendly Spaces Facebook group! This group provides a space for members to share the successes, challenges, tips, and bird sightings.
Volunteer at a bird-friendly organization
Houston Audubon partners with many local organizations who create a space that is friendly for birds. Volunteer opportunities may involve beach cleanups, birding events, or natives nursery assistance. If you are interested in volunteering with Houston Audubon or any other bird-friendly organizations, contact us to learn more!
Limit Threats to Birds
Avoid non-natural pesticides
Chemical-based pesticides do not exclusively kill pests within your garden and can have a harmful impact on beneficial pollinators and birds. Avoiding these pesticides and choosing natural options instead can provide a safer environment for the species you want to attract to you yard. Some native plant species can act as a biological control agent by attracting insects that prey on pest species, such as Rattlesnake Master and Lanceleaf Coreopsis.
Buy bird-friendly items (coffee, rice, beer, etc.)
You can easily create a bird-friendly space by substituting items you already use! By choosing bird-friendly coffee, rice, beer, and other products, you can reduce the harm caused to birds that rely on the habitat where these items are normally produced.
Keep cats indoors
According to the American Bird Conservancy, approximately 2.4 billion birds are killed every year by outdoor cats in the United States. This is more than the number of birds killed by building collisions, wind turbines, and vehicles combined. A simple solution to this major threat to birds is keeping your cats inside. If you have an outdoor cat and are worried about keeping it inside, check out alternative solutions like catios which allow cats to stay outside without causing harm to birds.
Regularly clean up trash in my community
Trash is a major problem in the United States. According to the EPA, Americans generated 294.4 million tons of trash in 2018. Cleaning up trash around your home, on your way to work, or at a local park can reduce the trash that is washed into bayous or consumed by wildlife.
Limit plastic use
Plastic is often confused by wildlife as a food source and can lead to the death of birds and other animals. Plastic does not decompose, which means that all plastic that has ever been created is still around. You can help reduce this pollution by limiting your personal plastic use. Single-use plastic items like straws, bags, and utensils can be refused and replaced with reusable alternatives.
Turn off outdoor lights at night during migration season
Most North American migratory birds fly at night, and lights on buildings can disorient birds on their paths, resulting in fatal collisions. The Upper Texas Coast plays a key role on the Central Flyway, an important migratory path for birds. Birds that move along and across the Gulf of Mexico depend on safe passage through the Houston-Galveston area. Throughout migration, and particularly during storm fronts, turning Lights Out for Birds can make a big difference.
Prevent daytime window collisions with decals/film/screens/etc.
Windows on homes, office buildings, and high rises have glass that reflects the trees and surroundings, creating images that look like inviting places for bird to fly. It is estimated that up to one billion birds die in the US every year due to window strikes. Most bird collisions occur on the first three stories of buildings. This makes sense because during the day, birds are foraging in the local landscape of grasses, water features, shrubs, and trees. Window film, screens, and decals can break up the reflection from windows that can confuse birds and prevent daytime collisions.