Habitats provide food, water, shelter and space for species. A good habitat must have all of these components and in the proper configuration. Habitat loss and degradation are the two main factors causing species decline. If a habitat is eliminated or altered to make it unsuitable for a species, then members of that species must die, seek out and find a new habitat or survive as best they can with habitats that may be very marginal. Even habitat alteration in other parts of the world can have effects on birds that live in Illinois. Those species that migrate for the winter or return to areas north of Illinois for nesting can be seriously impacted by changes in their migratory routes and homes. Other factors affecting bird species are competition from invasive species, historically low populations due to being on the edge of the species’ range, habitat fragmentation and human actions/inactions. Humans are the main cause for habitat loss and degradation. Humans, however, can be the solution to these issues.
The following ideas are practical steps that you can take to help conserve migratory bird species.
Participate in International Migratory Bird Day, held on the second Saturday in May, to educate others about migratory birds.
Write to state and national elected representatives to voice your concern over the plight of migratory birds.
Contact local environmental organizations or chapters of national organizations, such as the Illinois Audubon Society, to find out what they are doing about the issue.
Contact local representatives and parks personnel to learn about local land-use issues. Find out how you can learn about impor-tant local hearings, to provide public input on land-use decisions.
Conduct a school- or district-wide “Migratory Bird Day” to educate others in your school district about birds.
Take field trips to observe birds and contribute observations about bird populations to bird censuses or counts.
Plant native trees in appropriate places to increase bird habitat.
Take steps to reduce, reuse and recycle paper.
Plant a butterfly garden to provide habitat that supports insects that birds feed on.
Donate money to land preservation efforts.
Educate others about the dangers to birds from feral cats.
Leave snags and fallen trees in wood lots to provide habitat for birds and the insects they feed upon.