One of the major concerns of scientists over the years, especially climate change scientists, have been the decrease in bird activity. In fact, according to a new study, and the Audubon Society, we have lost 1 in 4 birds over the last 50 years. That’s a loss of nearly 3 billion birds in North America alone. As most of you know, one of the main reasons we moved out here was to help foster sustainable ecosystems for struggling populations.
With the current “snowpocalypse”, as my dad calls it, we have had the joy of seeing the multitude of birds that call our farm home during the winter. Our current favorite are the two mating pairs of cardinals (that are real chonkers and hate having their picture taken) that hang out by our front door waiting for us to feed the chickens. We also have starlings, as most people do, that like to move in groups and bully other smaller birds. I like to call them the jets of the bird world (they are invasive and from Europe, o they couldn’t possibly be a shark). Flying around snapping their fingers, breaking out into song about defying authority, and bullying all the other birds. Damn starlings.
We have also recently been noticing tons of little brownish birds with white stripes on their heads. They are beautiful and are EVERYWHERE. We probably have at least a hundred or more on our property. The other day I saw one coming out of a clump of tall grass that had dried and fallen over during the winter months. After much internet searching I discovered that these were White-Crowned Sparrows, and catch this, they over-winter here. This small fact completely blew my mind, which is odd because I’m an ecologist so it really shouldn’t. For some reason the thought that birds would think that we were a warm winter climate never entered my mind. The tiny birds breed in the northern regions of Canada, then migrate to the US and Mexico during the winter. They arrive here around September and leave in March or April. I now feel very protective of these birds, my winter birds.
So how can you be foster parents to the migrating sparrows? Make areas of your lawn, especially around fences, where you don’t cut your grass, plant bushes, or even make a brush pile starting around early September. They love to live in these close to the ground homes, and if you put them near a window you can even enjoy watching them enter, leave, and hop around outside of them. It’s the little things that bring joy.