Being mindful of windows, reducing plastics and prioritizing native plants are some of the simplest ways people can protect the birds they love.

Heather Watts, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University, shared some of these steps that can make a home, and the world, a more habitable place for birds.

For example, there are ways to prevent birds from flying into windows. Large, unobstructed windows in particular seem to pose the biggest danger to birds, Watts said. They may fly toward a window because they see a plant inside the house, or they may be attracted to a reflection.

If people notice an unusually high number of birds hitting their windows, they can look into adding special films, tape or decals to the glass that will break up the reflections so birds know the window is there. Having a screen or curtains can also be an effective solution.

For those who want to attract more birds, native plants can make a yard feel more like home for the animals.

“When we have more native plants in our landscaping and in our yards and in our communities, that provides food sources for birds, it provides shelter for birds, it provides breeding sites for birds,” Watts said. “All of which are beneficial for bird populations.”

Homeowners hoping to see particular types of birds often can attract them by putting out specific foods in their yard. Watts said the run-of-the-mill birdseed sold at stores is adequate for many birds, but she suggests researching what certain species prefer to increase the chances of seeing them.

However, she stressed that people should not put out more food than the birds can eat. Food that is left out too long can spoil and harm the birds.

Additionally, bird feeders and baths that are not cleaned regularly can spread disease.

Plastics, too, are dangerous for birds. Watts recommends cutting down on single-use plastics, because microplastics that end up in bodies of water can be ingested by seabirds and waterbirds.

Maybe the simplest way to protect birds is to appreciate them. Watts said birds benefit when more people learn about them and share their enthusiasm with others.

“I think that’s a really positive step we can take, too, because the more people appreciate bird life, the more people there are that are interested in kind of helping protect birds and protect habitats for birds,” she said.

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