Everyone who has ever held a sparkler or set off a string of firecrackers understands the danger of fireworks, but not only can fireworks be dangerous to the people handling them, they can also be dangerous and even deadly to wild birds. Proper fireworks safety tips, however, can keep the birds safe without avoiding fireworks celebrations.
Dangers of Fireworks
Fireworks can be dangerous to wild birds in several ways. If live fireworks come into contact with birds they can cause severe burns and injuries to a bird’s plumage, limbs, eyes and skin. The chemicals used in fireworks, including combustible powders and toxic inks, can also cause gastrointestinal distress if they are ingested, even in small quantities. The loud concussions made by personal fireworks can damage birds’ sensitive hearing or may cause enough emotional and psychological stress to drive birds away from nests. Because of these dangers, proper fireworks safety is essential to protect backyard and wild birds.
Fireworks Safety Tips Near Wild Birds
It is possible to enjoy personal fireworks without endangering backyard birds. While the safest course of action is to avoid personal fireworks at home and enjoy a local city celebration instead, common sense safety tips and responsible behavior can minimize the dangers to birds easily if you do choose to celebrate with your own fireworks.
- Remove birdfeeders and birdbaths before lighting fireworks. This will discourage birds from being in the area and ensure that no ash, debris or other firework residue inadvertently lands in birdseed or drinking water. If it is not possible to remove the feeders or birdbath, cover them prior to using the fireworks or thoroughly clean them afterwards.
- Wait until well after dusk to ignite fireworks. Dusk is a prime feeding time for many birds, but after the skies darken more appreciably there will be far fewer birds nearby to be affected by the fireworks. Furthermore, the fireworks will be more visible and more enjoyable if lit when it is darker.
- Do not use fireworks near birdhouses, nesting areas, brush piles or other bird shelters. Small birds may be invisible under dense cover, but the effects of fireworks used nearby can be drastic. Keeping the fireworks away from these areas also reduces the risk of fire from stray sparks.
- Clean up all firework residue promptly and thoroughly, including spent casings, bits of paper and ash. Firework debris can still contain toxic chemicals and other poisons that can harm birds that may ingest them. If necessary, wash down a driveway or patio area that has concentrated ash or burn debris to rinse away residue.
- Follow all the proper fireworks safety tips to keep friends and family members safe; many of these common sense safety tips can also protect pets and nearby wildlife, including wild birds, from unnecessary trauma or injuries caused by fireworks.
Photo – Sparkler © James Garvin