Four Home Improvement Projects to Help Wildlife

As many of us settle into our homes to try to flatten the curve and do our part to keep our community safe, our homes take on a different level of importance. Perhaps you’ve been tackling projects like reorganizing closets or baking from scratch, all to make your space a little more comfortable during challenging times.

To add to your to-do list, we’ve got four home improvement projects that will both benefit your space and wildlife. More than ever, our homes are our sanctuaries. Let’s make them (at least the outside parts) sanctuaries for wildlife too.

Light Pollution, photo by Jonni Armani

Reduce Light Pollution at Home

By going Lights Out, you help reduce the impacts of light pollution on birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, plants, and humans. You also save energy and money, reduce our carbon emissions, safeguard our own human health, and preserve our view of the night sky!

By being intentional about your lighting, you can help make our region safer and healthier for wildlife and humans alike, and raise awareness about the growing impact that light pollution has on the world around us.

How can you get started? Easy. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your outdoor lights when you’re not using them.
  2. Ensure that your outside lights aim down and are well-shielded.
  3. Install motion sensors on your outside lights so that they’re only on when needed.
  4. Choose warm bulbs (3,000 Kelvins or under) when converting outdoor lights to LED.
  5. During migration seasons, draw your blinds or curtains to reduce light spill.
  6. If the streetlight in front of your house shines light into your house, request a shield from the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

If you’re in Portland, you can also sign our Take the Pledge to Go Lights Out and receive a sign or window cling. 

An injured Yellow Warbler after hitting a window. Photo by Metro

Make Your Windows Bird-Safe

When most people hear the shocking thunk of a bird hitting their window, they think of it as an unfortunate isolated event, not part of a bigger problem. But the truth is, up to 1 billion birds die in North America every year after colliding with windows. Nearly half of those window strikes happen at residential homes, which is why it’s so important for renters and homeowners to take steps to make their homes bird-safe. 

Our Bird-safe Coordinator, Mary Coolidge, has put together all the tools you will need to make your home bird-safe. We’ve got tips that fit every budget, from DIY solutions for your yard and windows to installing professional screens and films. Click here to find the option that’s right for you.

Bird-safe Windows Guide

A tabby cat sits on a platform in a catio.
Catio Tour, photo by Tara Lemezis

Build a Catio

There is no more important time to keep cats inside than during baby bird season, which begins each March and continues through August. Once baby birds leave the nest, they spend up to a week on the ground under the care of their parents before they are flighted, leaving them particularly vulnerable to cat predation. Catios aren’t just for the protection of birds. Cats face many hazards when roaming the neighborhood, from coyotes to car collisions to poison. Many folks on our annual Catio Tour choose to build their catio after tragically losing a beloved companion.

So how can we keep wildlife and cats safe while giving our feline companions some fresh air and sunshine? Build a catio. Bird Alliance of Oregon and the Feral Cat Coalition have compiled everything you need to get started, from custom catio plans, DIY options, professional builders, and premade catios. Your cat is going to love her new outdoor extension, and lives will be saved as a result of your efforts.

Catio Resouces

English Ivy hanging off a tree
English Ivy, photo by Melissa McMasters

Remove Invasive Weeds from Your Garden

More than 6,000 private homes, apartment complexes, religious institutions, schools, and more have joined the Backyard Habitat Certification Program. Each one of them is restoring their greenspace by planting native plants, removing invasives, reducing pesticides, and being good wildlife stewards.

A big part of restoration is removing invasive weeds to give room to native plants to thrive. Get started on your path to creating a Backyard Habitat by removing common invasive plants like English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, holly, vinca, butterfly bush and so many more. See a full list of invasive plants in the Portland Metro Area. If you aren’t sure what they look like, just google them to see examples.

You can also sign up for the Backyard Habitat Certification Program if you are in the Portland Metro Region. A joint program with Bird Alliance of Oregon and Columbia Land Trust, we’re dedicated to helping you restore the land right outside your door.

See Invasive Plants