Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: The Avian Cooling Station

We're in an extreme drought. That's the actual, scientific category name. Extreme Drought. And yeah, it's hot, too.
But we have A/C and fresh water (for now). The birds don't. Nesting season has come smack in the center of this drought, the worst since the 1800s. Birds suffer heat stress and dehydration and can easily die from it. If you see a bird with its bill open, it's suffering from heat stress. How to help our avian neighbors? With an Avian Cooling Station!
By keeping a patch of lawn green and unmowed, the small reptiles, insects and bugs that ibises and other birds need can thrive. Letting some backyard go to seed gives the seed-eating birds some desperately needed food. Here are some local ibises getting some tasty grubs for breakfast.
Here's a local mourning dove taking a bath. Bird mite populations have exploded in the hot dry weather. The heavily infested birds need water in the form of rain or baths to keep the mites from making them anemic. (FYI: Bird mites don't affect humans, generally speaking.) The setup is simple. A small lawn sprinkler set on low creates a great bath and doesn't use much water. Several clean basins with fresh water, changed several times a day to prevent the spread of disease. Don't mow the lawn. Plant some native plants. That's it!

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