Image by: Ugrashak, Own work - CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77595396
If you let your cat outside to wander around your property (or someone else's) then you are part of a really big problem and need to stop right now. If you feed the birds and allow your cat outdoors, you are providing the perfect drive-through meal for those wandering felines and you should feel pretty bad about yourself right now.
These stats aren't news, but obviously bear repeating. Domestic cats are the number one threat to birds, which means you can eliminate wind turbines, car strikes, migration, habitat loss and starvation from that top spot. Cats win hands down because they kill billions (that's billions with a "b") of birds every year in the United States alone. Cats are awesome, and we love them, but they belong indoors. Period. There is no excuse for allowing them to hunt our native wildlife. None. Unless you're just tired of cleaning that litter box, in which case, surrender them to someone who doesn't mind the chore. And don't use the argument that you allow them to roam outdoors and needlessly kill everything they can get their claws into because they are just "following their instincts and doing what comes naturally" or "they are doing it to show they love me," because that is absolute rubbish. Responsible cat ownership does not include allowing your cat free rein because you think they must hunt, it includes neutering and spaying them and keeping them safe INDOORS. Raise your hand if you know someone who has lost an outdoor cat to a wild animal. So here is your chance to show your cat that you really do care that they live and aren't a coyote's breakfast, and in exchange you will be keeping our wildlife out of their deadly clutches. If you feel you can't do this, then please don't own a cat.
Now that you guilty cat owners feel absolutely horrible about what you've done, you're obviously going to pledge to keep our birds (and your cats) safe. You may be wondering what you can do to make up for all of those years of allowing your cat to kill innocent, often endangered, birds. It's not too late to make amends - to right those wrongs.
Here are a few simple things you can do to help birds now and always:
1) Provide fresh water for drinking and bathing, especially during the hottest months.
2) Stop using pesticides.
3) Keep trees and shrubs on your property for nesting, feeding and protection.
4) Grow native plants for insect-eating birds and remove invasive or non-native species.
5) Turn lights off at night during spring and fall migration (this helps bats too!).
6) Feed your region's year-round birds during the winter when food is scarce.
7) Join the Audubon Society and support bird conservation.
8) Purchase a pair of binoculars and learn about birds in your area. It's a healthy, lifelong hobby that can carry you into retirement.
State and federal protection for birds and other wildlife is disappearing at an alarming rate, so we need to work together to offset this loss of government support and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So keep those cats indoors and be a hero, or let them out and be an accessory to billions of needless deaths. If that doesn't give you pause, nothing will.
Flower image provided by: R.W. Smith (cropped)
Leaf image provided by: Jeff Ausmus (cropped)
Pod image provided by: Ray Moranz (cropped)
We owe so much to our priceless pollinators, so it's only fitting that they should have not a single day, but a whole week dedicated to them. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes, so whether you're a fan of flies, bees, wasps, birds, bats, butterflies or moths, this is the week we recognize their hard work and say thanks to all of them.
Have you made any promises to help pollinators not just this week, but always? If you don't know where to begin, there are three very simple ways you can help pollinators:
1) Grow native, pollinator-friendly flowers (See NWF's native plant guide)
2) Avoid pesticides - especially insecticides
3) Spread the word - get your friends and neighbors on board
4) Certify your garden as Wildlife Habitat
If you're serious about helping out, you can volunteer to help remove invasive species and plant native flowering plants in your city or town park - but change begins at home. For a great book on how to help pollinators in your own yard or garden, pick up a copy of Douglas Tallamy's Nature's Best Hope. You won't be sorry. This isn't an advertisement, just an honest testimonial!
You can also take the Xerces Pollinator Protection Pledge.
Happy Pollinator Week!!!!
Flower image provided by: Max Licher (cropped) - SEINet
Leaf image provided by: Sam Kieschnick (cropped) iNaturalist
Pod image provided by: Bodo (cropped) - iNaturalist
Flower image provided by: Nancy Lee Adamson (cropped)
Leaf image provided by: Sam Kieschnick - (cropped) iNaturalist Observation
Main pod image provided by: Brianna Borders
Inset Pod image provided by: Joseph A. Marcus (cropped)
Inset antelope horn image provided by: Wikipedia
World Environment Day has been officially recognized every June 5th since 1974. It all began in 1972 when the United Nations held the first major conference on environmental issues in Stockholm, Sweden. At the time it was called the Conference on the Human Environment, or the Stockholm Conference, and the goal was to address the challenge of preserving and enhancing the human environment. That conference evolved into an official day recognized by over 143 countries worldwide beginning in 1974.
Every year, World Environment Day adopts a theme, and this year's theme is "biodiversity." The goal is to combat species loss and degradation of the natural world. That's a huge goal considering humans are responsible for the one million plant and animal species at risk of extinction, and humans are the only ones who can reverse or slow that damage by recognizing and becoming participants in conservation of biodiversity.
Here is how countries as well as individual communities can conserve biodiversity and combat degradation of the natural world:
• invest and policies that focus on investments in “nature’s infrastructure” for climate regulation: our wetlands, forests and mangroves
• keep wild spaces wild, stop deforestation and restore degraded land to protect biodiversity, boost food production and store carbon
• make agriculture biodiversity positive
• integrate natural infrastructure with built infrastructure to reduce climate impacts and bring biodiversity back
• back sustainable production and consumption to conserve the planet’s resources
• end fossil fuel subsidies and making renewable energy the future
• retrofit our built infrastructure to be more energy efficient
• invest in public transport expansion and bicycle paths
These are no small tasks, but if all countries work together (obviously disregarding politicians who are not conservation-minded) we can achieve these goals and more.
Happy World Environment Day