THE BRITISH COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
Our mission: To protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

 May 26, 2015

The BC SPCA is challenging British Columbians to perform a million acts of kindness to animals – companion, farm and wild – in 2015. Often we overlook how our actions affect wildlife, yet we can do all kinds of things, some requiring minimal effort, to protect wildlife from harm. For example, here are 10 simple ways to help birds:

1. Dogs and shorebirds: Especially during spring and early summer, keeping dogs away from sensitive shoreline habitats where ground-nesting birds are hatching their young will save lives. This includes not allowing dogs to chase flocks of shorebirds eating along beaches. If these migratory birds don’t eat enough food at their migration stops, they may die in flight to their next stop.
2. Plant bird-friendly vegetation: Flowering native plants and berry-producing vegetation will be decorative, and food and cover for birds. In fact, because so many people put out seed for birds, the population of seed-eating birds is outnumbering birds who eat berries, nectar and insects. Ask at nurseries for plants to attract hummingbirds, grosbeaks and cedar waxwings.
3. Office lights-out: A million birds die each year from striking Toronto city skyscrapers because the office lights confuse them and they slam into the glass windows. The same happens in West Coast cities. To reduce bird strikes, the American Bird Conservancy has a 58-page toolkit for designers and developers who want to create bird-safe buildings. In the meantime, speak with building managers to insist lights go out after office hours!
4. Sylvester vs. Tweety: The majority of cat caregivers keep their felines indoors. If you have a cat who enjoys the outdoors, join the growing number of guardians who provide an enclosed “catio” that keeps cats safe from outdoor dangers and prevents them from indiscriminately preying on songbirds and other wild animals. You can build your own or buy ready-made kits. Search “cat enclosures” online or get inspired by the many creative, elaborate examples on Pinterest.
5. Oil kills birds: A single drop of oil is enough to kill a seabird. The oil destroys the insulating capability of birds’ feather systems and they die of hypothermia. If you see oil or spilled fuel in waterways, call the B.C. hotline at 1-800-663-3456. Put the number in your cell phone right now!
6. Be pesticide-free: This will save you time and money while helping animals. Lawn chemicals aren’t good for pets or wildlife, even birds who eat the worms from your lawn. Kick the habit and embrace dandelions. They will attract honeybees who, along with birds, are in decline.
7. Buy bird-smart: Insist on buying only organic, shade-grown coffee which is grown in the understory of the rainforest rather than in monoculture coffee plantations. Also, look for wood and paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an organization that protects rare and endangered forests and wildlife. When possible, buy organic vegetables and fruit – particularly tropical fruits such as bananas – because many countries have less restrictive pesticide regulations and the high pesticide loads kill songbirds as well as insects.
8. Cut out plastics: We discard 100 billion plastic bags a year plus billions of other plastic items, many of which end up in waterways. Seabirds, turtles and marine mammals mistake the floating plastic as food, eventually starving to death with stomachs full of plastic. If you dare, check out the heart-wrenching bird photos by Chris Jordan. Look to reusables, not recyclables.
9. Know your birds: Birds are amazing creatures but how many species can you identify? Many people are hard-pressed to name even 10. Yet, more than 370 bird species have been observed in the greater Vancouver area alone. Check out the Birding in B.C. website for help identifying local birds.
10. Help the injured: Thousands of birds and other wild animals are injured or orphaned each year in B.C., mostly from human causes. By contributing money, time or much-needed supplies to wildlife rehabilitation centres in your community, such as the BC SPCA’s Wild ARC near Victoria, you know your kind act is making a real difference saving lives.

One last thing: help fight cruelty with kindness and join the BC SPCA’s Million Acts challenge by visiting millionacts.ca.

Photo credits: hummingbird - Tania Simpson; oiled grebe - Focus Wildlife; bee - Jay Bessembinders; gull - Wildlife Rescue Association of BC; owl - Gilles Marcotte

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

Don’t have email? Don’t worry! Call us at 1-800-665-1868

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