Halloween safety means more than inspecting candy and adding reflective tape to costumes. This holiday can be hazardous to wild birds, but if you understand those hazards you can easily take steps to enjoy seasonal spookiness without threatening your feathered friends.
Top Halloween Threats to Birds
1. Outdoor Decorations: Yards are festooned with decorations for Halloween, from fake tombstones to giant spiders. But some of the most popular decorations – fake spiderwebs – are the most dangerous to birds. Birds can tangle in the webs and could be injured or attacked by predators, and chemicals in the webbing may be toxic to birds if ingested.
To help: Minimize outdoor webbing decorations, reserving cobwebs for indoor spookiness instead, or only use the webs on a few bushes that aren’t popular bird roosting spots.
2. Junk Food: No parent would let their child eat a diet of nothing but Halloween candy, and providing nothing but junk food to birds is equally unhealthy. An occasional leftover donut can be a treat for birds, but do not dump all leftover Halloween food outside for birds to sample. Most candy is not appropriate for birds at all and should never be left where it could be eaten.
To help: Choose better fall bird foods such as sunflower seeds and suet, and visit a local bird store for seasonal treats such as Halloween-shaped seed cakes.
3. Bonfires: A roaring bonfire can be a great Halloween or fall tradition and a warm place to gather on cool autumn nights, but it’s not so great for birds. Untended fires can destroy critical habitat, including essential roosting spots and food sources for birds.
To help: Carefully monitor any outdoor fires, and keep them away from brush piles, shrubbery or other bird roosting spots. Always be sure fires are thoroughly extinguished when no longer in use.
4. Pumpkins: While many birds and other wildlife will munch on pumpkins and sharing them with wildlife can be a great way to dispose of old jack-o-lanterns, leftover debris such as ash, wax, paint or other decorations can be dangerous or toxic for birds and animals.
To help: Cut away contaminated parts of a pumpkin before allowing birds to feed on it, or buy separate pumpkins that you can keep wildlife-friendly during Halloween.
5. Superstitions: Spooky stories often include owls, vultures or ravens, but depending on how the birds are portrayed, they can get an undeserved bad reputation that can lead to fear, distrust and persecution all year round, causing problems for these valuable and amazing birds.
To help: Don’t spread myths about birds, and instead learn fascinating trivia and fun facts about owls, vultures and other birds to teach how unique and fun all birds can be.
Halloween can be fun, and it can be a happy holiday for birds as well when you are aware of the dangers Halloween can pose to birds and take steps to correct those threats.
Learn more about how Halloween can be a threat to birds, and what you can do to help!