When I bought a house and started my first garden, I bought pesticides when I saw bugs harming my plants, but after reading a wonderful book by Howard Garrett, I now understand more about maintaining nature's balance. I've witnessed some remarkable things in my garden, and I love watching the birds, and beneficial insects like ladybugs, come to eat the harmful bugs in the garden. All it takes is a little time and patience. When I let the birds and good insects have time to find the problem bugs, I feel good knowing they're getting a good, pesticide-free meal.
I'm reading a great book called "Toward a Cleaner Aquatic Environment" and wanted to share an excerpt from the book as an example of how pesticides can end up killing birds.Excerpt from page 8: "A classic example of biological magnification is that of an insecticide introduced into Clear Lake, California in 1949, 1954, and 1957 to control the Clear Lake gnat. Following the latter chemical applications, western grebes were found dead along the lake shore. Subsequent investigations revealed that the insecticide, applied at a concentration of 0.02 parts per million parts of water, had been taken up and accumulated in the microscopic waterborne plants and animals with a concentration of 5 parts per million (250X). Fish that ate the microscopic organisms concentrated the insecticide in their fat to levels that exceeded 2,000 parts per million. (100,000X over the water concentration). Grebes, which are diving birds, fed on the fish and died."
Here are some sites I found with things you can do in your own yard:
Principles of Organic Gardening
Backyard Wildlife Habitats - get your yard certified - it's fun
Everyday Actions We Can Take to Conserve the Living Diversity of Our World
Audubon Workshop's bird friendly lawn and garden products (I use the product called "Wow Plus"- a natural corn byproduct - for pre-emergent weed control)
National Wetlands Inventory
Recognizing Wetlands Brochure (.pdf file)
The Young Scientist's Introduction to Wetlands
Jenny's Home Page