Protect birds without getting your hands dirty

Habitat is more than providing a garden. Human activity introduces a variety of risks for the birds that are living amongst us. Taking a few small steps to support wildlife can be simple, so we’ve put together a list of some of the most important things you can do, all without getting your hands dirty. 


Reduce your bird strike risk 

From our coastal cities to the remote outback, window collisions injure or kill individuals from around a third of Australian bird species each year. From Spotted Pardalotes to the majestic Powerful Owl, many species are at risk of bird strike, so here are some steps you can take around the house to make your windows strike-safe. 

  • Make sure indoor plants are not visible from the outside 

  • Avoid creating potential habitat near windows such as complex vegetation or bird-friendly plants including food sources like nectar-rich and fruit bearing trees. 

  • Place bird feeders and baths within 0.5 m of windows to avoid high-speed collisions 

  • Use sheer curtains and window decals to help birds spot the window 

  • Break up the glass with a repetitive pattern - no more than 5cm apart horizontally and 10cm apart vertically. You can buy window decals that birds can see, or as a DIY option try marking the pattern with a UV whiteboard marker- these are minimally visible to humans, but obvious to birds. 

Birds focus on the size of spaces between objects - it is not the kind of pattern that matters but the distance in-between! Grab our Bird Strike flyer for more advice. 


Provide water 

Providing water that birds (and other wildlife) can safely access is an easy but important way to help. Birds need water to drink and bathe. Bathing allows birds to remove parasites and dirt and generally maintain their feathers. You do not need to go out and buy a fancy bird bath. Instead, look at what you have around the house (or check out the local op shop). Pot saucers, tubs, buckets, ceramic dishes, clam shell pools – all make great options (avoid metal as it can heat up too much). Different depths and types of baths provide lots of options for birds. 
Place bird baths in the shade at various heights - on the ground, on a pedestal, hanging from a tree 

  • Place the bird baths in an area that is quiet, or has reduced activity so birds feel safe coming to the area 

  • Keep bird baths close to shrubs and trees so birds can have an escape route 

  • Put rocks, a brick or a branch in the water, especially if the bird bath is smooth and slippery so anything that falls in can climb out 

  • Change the water daily or whenever it gets hot where practical 


To feed or not to feed? 

Bird feeding can be a contentious topic. Research shows us that if you love birds, the best thing you can do is support them by providing habitat and water. Feeding can have unintended consequence of spreading disease, and favouring big bossy birds, when it’s really the smaller, shyer birds that need our help. But – many people get great joy from feeding birds, please follow these steps to do so as responsibly as possible: 
Avoid mince or honey and water mixes- these are not nutritionally balanced 
Place feed stations out of reach of cats and other predators 
Clean feeding stations daily by brushing off excess food, washing and scrubbing with a dilute bleach solution (and rinsing again) 
Vary the time of day in which you provide the food 
Cease feeding if you see any signs of disease amongst your visitors (like the balding cockatoos suffering from beak and feather disease) and clean everything impeccably. 
Remember this is a treat - for them and for you. Make it something you enjoy once a week or less, not a daily occurrence. Check out our fact sheet for more information. 

Discourage non-native species 

You can discourage introduced species by: 

  • blocking holes in your roof and other places they might like to nest 

  • keeping a close eye on nest boxes and removing nesting material of introduced species 

  • not leaving dog or cat food and bowls outside 

  • limiting access to chicken coops 

  • put in native plants! Research shows most introduced birds prefer more open gardens but native birds like native vegetation (and usually lots of it) 

In some places you can find trapping programs for species like Common Mynas - search your local area, but also be cautious that success is often limited and we still need to focus on creating great habitat for natives. 



There is more to creating a wildlife safe garden than the plants you choose. Some poisons we use can be disastrous for wildlife too. Many rat baits can accumulate in toxic levels in the environment and harm birds and other wildlife. To deter rodent pests, minimise debris around your yard, or use snap traps if necessary. If you live in an area with native rodents or marsupials you need to be extra careful with traps. 
If you need to use a poison, always avoid products labelled “Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides”, ask professional pest controllers to avoid these products where possible too. Always ensure poisons are kept away from kids, pets and native wildlife. Visit the actforbirds website to learn more about our campaign to remove these poisons from public sale. 


Put an end to the plastics.

We love hearing stories of people keeping their neighbourhoods clean of plastic waste. Every piece of plastic rubbish we collect is kept out of the food web and vulnerable ecosystems. Even tiny plastics that can’t be seen with the human eye can cause harm to wildlife. If you’d like to help, pick up synthetic and plastic rubbish when you see it, and swap the everyday plastics for reusable and sustainable materials whenever you can. 


Love wildlife and love your cats - keep them separate. 

Keep your cat safe by keeping it inside or in a cat run. Vehicle collision is a major danger to cats that are allowed to roam the streets. What concerns us is the fact that domestic cats are responsible for a huge number of deaths of native birds and other wildlife each year. 
There is a whole community of people committed to giving their cats happy, enriched lives at home, and keeping wildlife safe in the progress. If you’d like to be inspired or learn more, check out the Safe Cat Safe Wildlife project.  

Advocate for local species 

Your voice is important at the local, state and federal level. Whenever you get the opportunity, take a moment to support causes. This may be as quick as signing a petition. You can also participate in consultation sessions whenever they are advertised by your local government. By letting them know you care about wildlife and natural spaces, it will help them be prioritised in local decision-making processes. You can also write to your state or federal MP about issues that they have jurisdiction over. 

BirdLife’s actforbirds website is full of advice on how to get these processed going and advocate for nature. In particualr, take a look at the advocacy toolkit for in depth info, or our Nature Laws page for how to reach out to Federal MPs on that front. 

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