Trick or T[h]reat?: keeping your haunted house safe for wildlife
We are entering the holiday season marathon friends! For many of us, one of the best ways to get in a festive spirit is decorating our houses / lawns / balconies, etc. Amidst the ghoulish glee of spookifying your abodes, you might not realize that holiday decorations can have some seriously scary consequences for local wildlife. Thus, today’s blog is all about ways to make sure your homes stay haunted but not harmful!
Set decorative lights on a timer
While we generally think of October as Halloween season, it’s also migration season for many species of birds. With urbanization has come countless additional threats to migration. Lights at night pose a particular hazard to migrating birds, who generally undertake their journeys in the evening hours when predators are less active and temperatures are cooler. According to the Georgia Audubon Society, “bright lights confuse and disorient resident and migrating birds as they pass over brightly lit cities, like metro Atlanta. These birds may collide with structures or become trapped in beams of light where they circle until they are exhausted.”
Georgia Audubon’s Lights Out Georgia effort encourages participants to dim lights between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. to provide safer skies for migrating birds. Most holiday decorations these days come with a timer that can allow for a similar dimming schedule, which means you can enjoy some fearsome illuminations without any real-life casualties. Also, make sure to hang outdoor lights high off the ground to avoid animals becoming tangled!
Avoid fake spiderwebs
Another threat to migrating birds comes in the form of one of the most popular Halloween decorations. Although fake spiderwebs certainly give off strong spooky vibes, they pose a significant danger for the critters in your area, who can get trapped in the webbing. Small mammals and birds often do not have the strength to break free of the web, and can eventually die if not rescued. If you have the misfortune of happening across such a gruesome sight, you can find some tips on what actions to take here.
Preserve pumpkins with vinegar instead of bleach
There is a fair amount of back and forth on whether preserving pumpkins with bleach poses a threat to wildlife, as pumpkins left outdoors often end up as snacks for local critters. We encourage erring on the side of caution, and opting instead for a solution of 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water.
Consider some festive anti-collision window stickers
Anti-collision window stickers are a great way to avoid bird casualties. Meant to be placed on the outside of windows, anti-collision stickers come in a number of sizes and designs, including holiday themes!
These tips continue to apply as we move from Halloween season into the winter holidays, especially surrounding outdoor lights. You can read more about animal-safe decorations on Audubon.org, and thank you, as always, for helping make our world safer for wildlife!
Arrais, P. (2020, October 31). Fake spiderwebs a real danger for wildlife at Halloween. Times Colonist. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.timescolonist.com/local-news/fake-spiderwebs-a-real-danger-for-wildlife-at-halloween-4685217
Let’s Make Georgia Bird-Friendly! Georgia Audubon. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.georgiaaudubon.org/lights-out-georgia.html
Miller, M. (2020, October 20). Toronto wildlife experts warn that bleaching pumpkins could kill animals. blogTO. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.blogto.com/city/2020/10/toronto-wildlife-experts-warn-bleaching-pumpkins-kill-animals/
Wallington, N. (2020, December 4). How Bird-Friendly Are Your Holiday Decorations? Audubon. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.audubon.org/news/how-bird-friendly-are-your-holiday-decorations