Fireworks, Bonfires And Birds
It is not fully understood what impact fireworks displays have on wild birds. Some scientists suggest a night of fireworks may be little different from a thunderstorm, although it has been suggested that a New Year fireworks celebration caused the deaths of over 3,000 red-winged blackbirds that fell from the sky over a town in Arkansas in 2011.
However, it is worth taking some precautions when setting off fireworks to minimize any potential harm to birds and other wildlife.
Do not let off fireworks until it has gone dark. Dusk is an important feeding time for many birds but once night has fallen there will be far fewer birds about who may be disturbed by fireworks.
If you are letting of fireworks in your garden remove any bird feeders and bird baths beforehand to ensure no ash and other debris end up in birds’ food or drinking water. If it is not possible to remove feeders and baths, then give them a good clean early the next morning.
Do not let off fireworks near trees, bushes, nesting and roosting sites or bird boxes. Small birds may not be visible in dense shrubs or trees but fireworks may scare them into the open where they will be more vulnerable to predators as well as using up valuable energy, which they need to survive the cold winter months. They may also panic and fly into windows.
Clean up thoroughly after any firework display. Remove any spent casings, paper, plastic, matches and ash. The debris from fireworks can contain chemicals, which may be toxic to birds.
Bonfires are also a problem for wildlife as November marks the start of hibernation season for hedgehogs who may settle down for winter in a pile of wood and leaves destined for burning. Other small mammals and amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts, may also shelter in the pile so it is advised that you don’t build a bonfire until the day it is due to be lit and check it thoroughly using a torch and poking about with a large stick or broom handle before setting it alight.
If you find a hibernating hedgehog under your bonfire carefully move it while wearing thick gloves as far from the bonfire as possible and where it is not exposed to the elements. You could build another pile of logs and leaves for them to use instead and leave it over winter.
Make sure the bonfire is thoroughly extinguished before leaving it. The ash from a large bonfire can be hot for days which can potentially harm wildlife.
Remember to follow all safety tips when handling fireworks or lighting bonfires. Ideally go to an organized event where the fireworks will be bigger, the bangs will be louder and safety will be a priority.