Balloon releases celebrate happy events or commemorate something significant in our lives, but balloons mean big trouble for birds and other wildlife.
Balloons kill birds.
And by understanding how balloons endanger our avian friends, you can help minimize the risks they pose.
The answer is simple.
Use safer alternatives in place of balloons, such as blowing bubbles, dove releases, falconry birds, or wild bird releases to commemorate important events.
Dangers Balloon Releases Pose to Birds
This is a “safe” story, and there are no pictures of dead or injured birds.
Balloon releases impact all types of birds, from songbirds to birds of prey to seabirds, and the consequences they face coming into contact with balloons can be devastating.
Here are a few ways balloons hurt birds:
The most common way balloons harm birds is through ingestion.
Seabirds such as gannets, shearwaters, albatrosses, and petrels mistake floating pieces of balloons with their bright colors and tattered ends for jellyfish or squid.
When a bird eats pieces of latex or mylar, it lodges in the digestive tract and prevents the bird from eating.
Without adequate nutrition to survive, the bird slowly starves to death.
Balloons with ribbons or strings become a tangle hazard for birds when the strings catch in trees or bushes.
Birds get tangled if they fly into the string, and if they use it as nesting material it can tangle around nestlings.
Tangle injuries stunt the growth of nestlings.
As the tangle tightens, it creates open wounds from chafing and restricts the bird’s legs, wings, or bill.
Tangling harms the bird making them more vulnerable to predators and infections.
The balloon industry claims latex balloons are safe to release.
Their reasoning is that they rise to a height of 5 miles before bursting into tiny, minuscule pieces that are harmless to the environment.
Balloons aren’t biodegradable even though the balloon industry says so, and they are the only industry that encourages people to litter with their products.
Once someone discards a balloon, it deflates and remains intact in the environment for a long time.
Latex balloons fall to earth as ugly litter resembling an enticing meal to birds and other animals.
Balloon litter outlives the person releasing it, and when people release balloons, they turn the environment into a landfill where birds and other wildlife endure great harm.
Lasting Impact of Balloons on Birds
Balloon releases are not just for weddings, birthday parties, and anniversary celebrations.
Many sporting events, like college football games, release hundreds of latex balloons to commemorate the start of a new season.
Fortunately, many communities across the U.S. recognize the long-lasting impact of balloons on birds, wildlife, and the environment and ban the sale and release of balloons altogether.
And it’s not just birds impacted by balloons.
Sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals, and sharks are adversely affected by balloons.
Eco-friendly Alternatives to Balloon Releases
If you’re looking for environmentally-friendly alternatives to balloon releases, we encourage you to check out balloonsblow.org. They provide a list of creative ideas to consider.
How to Help Save Birds and Wildlife
Here are a few easy steps to minimize the use of balloon releases and protect birds from dangerous balloon debris.
–Never include a balloon release in an event or celebration you plan.
-If you must use balloons outdoors, anchor them securely with multiple tethers if one fails.
-Avoid using helium balloons, and choose balloons that fall rather than rising to easily collect and dispose of properly.
-Organize cleanups of your local beaches and parks.
-Spread the word to anyone considering balloon releases about the threats of balloons and encourage them to embrace eco-friendly alternatives instead.
-Encourage others to use safer alternatives, such as blowing bubbles, dove releases, or wild bird releases.
-Dispel the myth that balloons are harmless decorations that rise in the sky.
When balloons come down, these “harmless” decorations injure or kill birds and other wildlife.
Please dispose of waste responsibly to minimize threats to birds so our avian friends can fly free and safely in the sky as nature intends them to do.
Help stop the destructive effects balloons have on animals, people, and the environment by supporting BalloonsBlow.org. This non-profit informs and educates others about the ugly and deadly litter released balloons become.