Fireworks displays, as fun as they are for people, can be terrifying to animals. The sudden flashes of light filling the sky accompanied by deafening blasts of noise cause anxiety, confusion, and fear even in household pets; wild animals disoriented by fireworks often panic and flee, resulting in injury or death. Although the effect on native birds has been more catastrophic during New Year's Eve fireworks displays (in 2011, over 4,000 blackbirds in Arkansas died from blunt-force trauma
after being scared by fireworks and flying blindly into buildings and other obstacles), 4th of July displays take their toll on birds as well.
National Audubon recommends, "if you want to see your fireworks and
protect birds, the best thing to do is attend a commercial display rather than setting off your own pyrotechnic devices. Commercial fireworks are concentrated in one location rather than in several locations at once, which is what often happens in neighborhoods. Centralized displays allow birds to take off and land again in 'safer' locations rather than continuing to flee noises coming at them from all directions."
If you must light off personal fireworks displays, here are some tips to ensure the least impact on birds:
• Remove or cover bird-feeders and bird-baths early in the day:
Eliminating food and water will discourage birds from being in the area.
• Avoid known and likely bird roosts:
Fewer birds = lesser impact. Stay far from tree-lines and wetland areas, places birds often roost.
• Wait until well after dark:
Twilight is prime feeding time for birds; wait until you don't hear chimney swifts nor see birds on the wing.
• Turn off inside house lights:
Birds don't recognize glass in backlit windows and may injure themselves trying to fly to the safety of the illuminated room beyond, especially if there are indoor plants visible.
• Minimize the noise:
Choose quieter fireworks options. Dazzlers, spinners, and sparklers are still fun for the kids yet cause little racket.
• Choose fireworks with minimal waste:
If you can’t clean up after it, maybe you shouldn’t shoot it off. The chemical-laced debris from airborne fireworks pollutes long after Independence Day celebrations.