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5 Gifts to Help Wild Birds

Animals
Beau Considine / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

By David Mizejewski

The holiday season (or any time of the year) is a great time to give gifts that help out your local wild birds. Even if it's a gift for yourself!


Here are five gifts ideas that will help you provide the basics of habitat for wild birds right outside your door and to create a wildlife habitat garden that will provide year-round habitat for bird and other backyard wildlife. When you provide food, water, cover and places to raise young and maintain your yard or garden naturally, the National Wildlife Federation will recognize it as a Certified Wildlife Habitat in our Garden for Wildlife program.

The items below from National Wildlife Catalog will help you meet the basic requirements to certify your garden for wildlife–plus all the proceeds of sales go directly to support our wildlife conservation programs.

1. Birds Seed Wreath

Native plants are the best way to provide the seeds, nuts, berries and insects that wild birds rely on for food. But a few feeders can supplement those natural food sources and help attract birds for you and your family to enjoy. Our bird seed wreath is perfect as a holiday treat. It's made with black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, safflower and red millet seeds that most seed-eating birds will enjoy. Plus, it's decorative.

Get the Bird Seed Wreath here.

2. Birdbath De-Icer

Birds need water year-round, both for drinking and for bathing to keep their feathers in good condition. When the temperatures dip below freezing, finding a water source that isn't frozen becomes difficult. If there's no snow on the ground for birds to consume as a liquid source, they risk dehydration. Keep birds happy and hydrated during periods of freezing temperatures with our birdbath de-icer. Constructed of patented cast aluminum for efficiency and safety, this de-icer is thermostatically controlled to operate only when necessary. The 150-watt de-icer is fully grounded with a three-prong cord and is safe for all birdbaths.

Get the Birdbath De-Icer here.

3. Roosting Box

Just like us, birds seek shelter when the weather turns bad. This roosting box provides protection from the winds, heavy rain and bitter cold for many backyard birds including wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and bluebirds. The entry hole located at the bottom of the front panel is protected by a slate guard to keep squirrels from gnawing it open. The three internal perches can accommodate 6 or more birds. Handcrafted in Maine from eastern white pine.

Get the Roosting Box here.

4. Nesting Box

Nesting boxes, also known as birdhouses, are used by cavity-nesting birds as a place to raise their young. Wrens are some of the easiest birds to attract to a use a nesting box. It's important to install nesting boxes by February so that they are in place when wrens begin scouting out potential nesting spots in late winter or early spring. This box is made of kiln-dried hardwood and decorated with a purple coneflower design with non-toxic water-based paint. The box hangs with the metal chain from a tree or bracket, and opens easily to clean out.

Get the Wren Nesting Box here.

5. Wildlife Gardening: Tips for Four Seasons

Excerpted from the pages of the award-winning National Wildlife® magazine, each article in Wildlife Gardening: Tips for Four Seasons® combines compelling narrative from world-class writers with stunning images and practical, step-by-step tips on topics ranging from wildlife garden design and choosing the best bird houses to helping monarch butterflies, providing wildlife with water in winter and attracting native bees and pollinators to help gardeners grow bigger, better fruits and vegetables.

Get Wildlife Gardening: Tips for Four Seasons here.

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The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.

"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."

The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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