04/08/2015 02:44 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 05:59 EDT

Migrating birds need dirty windows and clean baths, says Canadian naturalist

After migrating to warmer, southern climates for the winter, birds are returning to Canada for spring and summer, but in smaller numbers — a trend naturalist Anne Nightingale hopes residents can help turn around.

A 2012 report on the State of Canada's Birds showed a 12 per cent drop in bird population since 1970 and found two of the main threats to Canada's birds are disappearing habitats and climate change.

Here are four things Nightingale says you can do to help your feathered friends:

Clean feeders and bird baths

"That's really important to stop transmission of disease....some of those diseases can even affect humans, like salmonella."

Get your cat out of the way

"Having outdoor areas that are enclosed or at a sufficient height that the cats aren't getting into the wildlife is a good thing.

"This time of year in particular birds are coming back to breed. If your cat catches a bird, it's not just one bird that is dying. There's going to be a nest of babies that will starve to death."

Keep your windows dirty

"This will delight a lot of people about to start spring cleaning. Leave windows as dirty as you can stand because birds are more likely to see them if they are dirty than if they are spotless."

Feed your feathered friends

"If you are going to feed birds, feed responsibly. Think about if you would feed it to your pets."

To hear the full interview with Anne Nightingale, listen to the audio labelled: Protecting B.C. birds