As humans, we don’t have to worry about being attacked by an animal higher up the food chain when we hang around outside or eat. Backyard birds, meanwhile, constantly have to worry about animals that prey on them. Two of their most feared predators are cats and hawks. While birds on their own might not always stand a great chance, with your help they might have a fighting chance to stay alive.
Cats both domestic and feral pose a huge threat to birds that visit your backyard, but we’ll focus on domestic cats for the purposes of this post. Curbing even a household cat’s natural instinct to hunt is extremely hard, so it’s likely more worthwhile to instead focus on limiting the potential for your cats to come into contact with the birds. It goes without saying that it’s a good idea to keep cats inside as much as possible, and that if they do need to go outside, it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on them and not let them out at times when birds are likely to be feeding. Trimming your cat’s claws in an effort to prevent them from climbing trees and catching birds could also prove effective, as might attaching bells to the cat’s collar that has the potential to alert birds to its presence.
While harder to directly control, hawk strikes are still able to be thwarted thanks to plenty of other potential strategies. Perhaps the most effective way to guard against hawks is simply to provide plenty of shelter for backyard birds by way of natural cover, such as shrubbery, piles of brush and clumps of trees. If you put your feeders within 10 feet of such shelter, birds should be able to reach it before being attacked. Setting up artificial cover, such as awnings or umbrellas, over the top of feeders to hide feeding birds from hawks’ sharp eyes can be effective as well. You can also put out cage feeders in order to give smaller birds an extra sense of security while feeding. If nothing else is working, simply pick up all the feeders for a couple of weeks and wait for the hawk to move on to another area when it realizes there aren’t any more birds in your yard. They’ll return shortly after you resume feeding them, but the hawk likely won’t.
You’ll never be able to keep birds completely safe from predators, but following these tips should help them stay safer than they would be otherwise. Happy Birding!
Written by Guest Writer Sean Peick