Birds might be the wildlife group that is most noticeably affected by hurricanes. Some are injured or killed during the storm, high storm winds can blow birds off track during their long migratory journeys, and physical damage exposes birds and their nests to predation and the elements. But perhaps the most obvious impact is the lack of food for seed and nectar eating birds after the storm passes.
Even after milder storms, the flowers that nectar eaters, such as hummingbirds and bananaquits (also known as sugarbirds or yellow breast), feed on can be blown down, making food hard to find. We can help these birds by hanging a hummingbird feeder with a solution of 1 part sugar: 4 parts water. Be sure to use cane sugar and do not use artificial sweeteners. Hummingbirds burn lots of energy for their size and need real sugar. Also, do not use red food coloring. It is unnecessary and can harm the birds, even in low concentrations, because they eat so much nectar. Seed and berry eaters, such as pigeons/doves, grassquits, and bullfinches also suffer from a lack of available food in the weeks after a hurricane. Setting out bird seed or even cracked corn is a great way to help out these important birds until they are able to find food. For more info on wildlife response to hurricanes, check out this Birds Caribbean blog: Hurricanes and Birds Part 2: How Do Caribbean Birds Survive? In the wake of the storms of 2017, BirdsCaribbean, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Caribbean birds, arranged to have bird feeders and bird seed sent to islands in need. They partnered with organizations on each island to distribute these items to their community. Here on St. Croix, SEA distributed over 200 bird feeders and 800 pounds of bird seed throughout the island. In addition to feeding the birds, many people found that watching the birds eat the seeds and nectar provided entertainment and a little bit of joy during a stressful time. But you don’t necessarily need to buy a feeder. In this video, we show you an easy way to make a seed feeder out of a water bottle that might otherwise have gone in the trash. We encourage you to use your creativity (or do a google search) to find other ways that you can make seed feeders and nectar feeders from upcycled materials. SUPPORTING BIRDS Why are birds important?
Hummingbirds and Bananaquits are pollinators, and we need pollinators for our flowers and trees to produce seeds and fruit.
Seed eaters, such as pigeons and doves, also disperse seeds, which is essential for forest recovery after hurricanes.
HOW CAN YOU HELP BIRDS BEFORE AND AFTER A HURRICANE? Before a storm:
Buy sugar for nectar, birdseed, bird feeder (for seed), and a hummingbird feeder (for nectar). Put all of this in a waterproof container to prevent your sugar and seeds from spoiling
If you don’t want to buy a bird feeder, you can make your own (instructions to do so are below).
After a storm:
Put out bird feeders with nectar and seed
Don’t completely cut down trees that have been damaged as they can still recover and bloom on their own. These trees can provide shelter for animals that might need it.
DIY BIRD FEEDER What you’ll need:
Perches (can be sticks, wooden pencils, chopsticks, or old wooden kitchen cooking spoons)
Exacto knife and/or scissors
Glue (preferably super-glue or Gorilla glue)
Twine, rope or string
Using a sharpie, trace a spot for your perch hole towards the bottom of the plastic bottle (the hole should be big enough to fit the perch that you will be using).
Following the tracing that you drew with the sharpie, cut a hole for your perch using the Exacto knife (or scissors).
Now, draw and cut another hole the same size on the opposite side of the bottle.
Push the perch through the first hole then through the hole on the opposite side of the bottle.
After testing your perch, remove it from the bottle. Now cut a small hole about ½ inch above each perch hole on both sides. This hole is so that the birds can access the food from the bottle.
Slide your perch back into the bottle.
Repeat steps 1-6 to create your second perch. The second perch should be above and perpendicular to the first perch.
Secure both perches by ONLY gluing underneath each perch where it meets the hole in the bottle.
Tie a piece of string or twine to the top of the bottle, and then cut the string to the appropriate length.
Once you add birdseed and hang up your feeder, you’re done!
There are many other materials that can be used to make bird feeders including natural materials like calabash gourds. WATCH OUR OTHER VIDEOS