February 16, 2021
Celebrate National Bird Feeding
Month All Year Long!
We all love our birds—both native and our seasonal visitors. Seeing their beauty and hearing their songs brings us so much joy! And of course we can't forget the important role they play in our environment by helping to control insects, spreading seeds and pollinating plants.

As we celebrate National Bird Feeding Month, read on to learn how you can provide food, shelter and a literal oasis for our feathered friends with the use of native plants.

You will also find a story about a current patient—one who happens to be a member of our favorite migrating species—and his journey to get back on the road again.

And remember, should the need arise, The Bird Rescue Center is here to provide rescue and treatment to those impacted by injury or disease.

You can also make an impact by helping to fund the life-saving work happening each day at The Bird Rescue Center. Together we'll ensure more birds get a second chance at a healthy life in the wild!
Why Are Native Plants Important?
Our location along the Pacific Flyway means we have the good fortune of seeing migrating species as well as those who reside here all year round. We know our wild birds face any number of challenges each and every day whether they live here throughout the year or are just passing through. Finding food and water, shelter and places to nest are essential. But today the consequences of climate change are adding to these daily avian stresses. Locally, fires have altered landscapes often making it more difficult for birds to find food.
There are any number of reasons to incorporate native plants in your landscaping. They are typically more drought resistant and they have evolved and adapted to our local environment. Perhaps most importantly, they support not only our local species but also migrating birds by providing "dine and dash" food sources corresponding to migration times and patterns.

Native plants provide food and shelter for our local populations as well as an oasis for those whose migration means a long, arduous journey.

When native plants are incorporated into local landscaping they allow birds to forage more naturally and, in light of our recent Salmonella outbreak, offer a safer alternative to feeding at concentrated spaces like feeders, preventing the spread of disease while still allowing us to enjoy them as visitors to our gardens.
What Should I Plant?
The native plants you choose for your yard will determine the kinds of birds you attract. Plants that offer fruit, seeds and nuts will attract different birds than those that offer nectar. The latter will also attract caterpillars and butterflies. For migrating birds, we need to match their window of migration to the "produce" available in our gardens.

For example, stunningly beautiful Cedar Waxwings love berries so a good choice for them might be the Frangula californica (California Coffeeberry) or the Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon or California Christmas Berry) that bears fruit during their winter migration through our area. To attract Hummingbirds, you'd want to select a plant that produces nectar, so the Scrophularia californica (California Figwort or Bee Plant) would be a great option.

Check out this extensive native plant database from the Audubon Society—simply enter your zip code and you'll get a long list of native plants as well as the different bird species they will attract.

Some other resources are:
Meet One of our More Colorful Migrants
This beautiful bird is a Cedar Waxwing, one of the species that migrate through our area during the winter months on their way to the more southern parts of the US and Panama. In addition to the many potential hazards all birds face—predators, disease, being hit by a car or flying into a window—migrating birds have some additional challenges. They must find adequate food sources that don't require them to stay for long. They need a quick source of sustenance and then they're back journeying with their flock. Cedar Waxwings are well known for their "dine and dash" foraging behavior being able to strip entire trees and shrubs of their fruit overnight!

BRC typically receives over two dozen of this species during the winter months as they pass through our area on their way to their ultimate destinations.
Found listless on the ground, this particular bird came to us on January 30th. We found a wing fracture and treated the fracture with a wing wrap to immobilize it in the correct position for healing. With his wing now healed, we are beginning physical therapy (PT) to get him into tip top flying condition so he can continue his long flight south.

The first step in PT is to immobilize the wing and perform gentle extensions to improve range of motion. When we did this, we discovered a patagial knot which is now requiring massage therapy. The patagium is the stretch of skin on the leading edge of a bird's wing extending from the shoulder to the wrist. The knot was likely caused by the wing's lack of motion during the healing process. The massage therapy is similar to what we humans might enjoy from a favorite masseuse!

Once this initial phase of PT is done, we will need to begin flight conditioning and evaluation. This is critical due to the long and potentially arduous migration still ahead.

The biggest challenge in treating these birds is being able to orchestrate their release. If their flock has moved on while in care with us, it poses a serious problem. Since they travel in groups and depend on each other during their journey, we can't release a single Waxwing to journey alone. Even releasing a pair is concerning.

So what to do? Reconnaissance! Volunteers go into the field to listen for their distinctive, high-pitched calls. We also reach out to a network of birders and even use birding software to try and find flock hotspots. When these steps fail, we've resorted to "Wanted" posters to locate another group of migrators for them to join!

We're hoping none of the above will be necessary for this little guy, but as is always the case at BRC, we'll do whatever is necessary to ensure he gets his second chance at life in the wild!
Wild birds need you!
Please support the life-saving work that helps care for our avian friends by clicking the button below to make a tax-deductible donation.
Donate online using the button above, or mail your check to:
The Bird Rescue Center
PO Box 475
Santa Rosa, CA 95402

Your gift will make a life-saving difference.
The Bird Rescue Center | 707/ 523-2473 | Email