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

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.

Planting native plants is one of the most important things you can do to establish a healthy habitat. Native plants are indigenous to this 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.

Not sure where to get started? Check out these articles for inspiration and advice and visit Houston Audubon's Natives Nursery to purchase your own native plants!

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.

Visit the Texas Invasives website for more information on invasive plant species.

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. Wild Birds Unlimited can help you find the bird feeders that works best for your space.

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.

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. NestWatch by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides great information on the different nest boxes that you can use to attract different species.

Consider a nest box for one of these birds in Houston: Eastern Screech Owl, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Purple Martin.

Volunteering to help with habitat restoration projects or at natives nursery open houses can help increase the number of native plants in your community. You can find habitat workdays across the region with Houston Audubon and our many amazing partners in conservation. Check out Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Parks Board, or the Houston Arboretum.  Click here for more information on Houston Audubon's volunteer opportunities!

Connect With Others

Click here 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 is a chance to make a difference, support bird conservation, and allows Houston Audubon to continue their work in creating a bird-friendly community.

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!

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 to learn more about upcoming community science opportunities.

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 to find a survey near you!

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. Click here to learn more about upcoming virtual programs and other educational opportunities.

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 (coming soon)! This group provides a space for members to share the successes, challenges, tips, and bird sightings.

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. Learn about volunteer opportunities with Houston Audubon.

Limit Threats to Birds

Pesticides do not exclusively kill pests within your garden and can have a harmful impact on beneficial pollinators and birds. Avoid pesticides to 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. Consider planting these native species in your yard to reduce the number of pests!

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.

Check out the Smithsonian's website to find out where to buy bird-friendly coffee.

Check out National Audubon's website to find out where to buy beef that is sustainably raised and benefits wildlife habitat through the conservation ranching certification.

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 while keeping birds (and your cats!) safe.

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. Check out the Partners in Litter Prevention website to learn about more ways that you can help keep your community trash-free!

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.

Learn about our Plastic Pollution Initiative and find out other ways that you can reduce your plastic use!

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!

Learn about Lights Out Texas and find out more about how you can help migratory birds.

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.

Learn about different products that can be used to prevent daytime collisions, or get creative with this DIY wind curtain!

Do you have a question about the Bird-Friendly Spaces Program?