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4th of July: Illegal fireworks can harm wild birds

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 at 6:30 am in Birds, Fires, Fireworks, wild birds.

Fireworks and moon. Photo by Flickr user I’ll Never Grow Up used under a Creative Commons License.
I'll Never Grow Up

Planning on firing off some illegal fireworks this coming 4th of July holiday weekend?

Please read the following information first. OK?

Thanks for caring. /Gary

Cormorants, pelicans. Photo by Flickr user mikebaird used under a Creative Commons License.
cormorants, pelicans, mikebaird

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE from Golden Gate Audubon Society:
The Golden Gate Audubon Society has called on local police, park officials, and city agencies to post notification and increase patrols to prevent the use of illegal fireworks this Independence Day, especially in sensitive wildlife areas.

“Fireworks not only pose human health and fire risks, they also disturb and harm wildlife, especially birds,” said Michael Lynes, Conservation Director for the Golden Gate Audubon Society in Berkeley, California. “Illegal firework displays are a particular problem because they are often ignited without proper fire and safety measures in secluded spots that are more likely to be sensitive wildlife areas.”

Each year, several municipalities around the San Francisco Bay Area celebrate July 4th with large fireworks displays. The firework sites are usually selected with at least some consideration of the impacts on wildlife and are cleaned after the display. Illegal fireworks often occur in sensitive wildlife areas without any safety measures or post-display clean up.

While the loud noises, bright lights, and noxious smoke are likely to disturb birds, the risk of fires likely poses the greatest threats to wildlife and their habitats. According to the San Francisco Fire Department, in the last three years the SFFD has responded to 53 fireworks-related grass fires and multiple structure fires caused by fireworks.

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to many species of birds throughout the year. In the summer months, herons, cormorants, terns and shorebirds are nesting along the Bay. Sparrows, bluebirds, towhees, and many other species are nesting throughout Bay Area parks and other open spaces. Many birds will abandon nests if they are frightened by loud noises or bright lights. Moreover, by July, many adult birds are caring for their young, which have fledged from their nests but remain extremely vulnerable to disturbance and trampling.

For more information about local bird populations and how to help, contact the Golden Gate Audubon Society at 510-843-6551.

Find out more about Golden Gate Audubon at

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