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Tips & Advice : Helping birds feed safely
We can help the birds in our garden stay safe from harm and predators while they visit and feed if we follow a few simple rules.
So what can we do to help and what should we look out for?
The Much Loved Domestic Cat
Every cat owner and cat lover is only too aware of the threat their much loved pussy cat is to the feathered wildlife in our gardens. As the cat population in the UK continues to grow with more and more families choosing a cat as a pet the problem of this domesticated predator will continue to grow.
Our garden birds often fall prey to other larger birds of prey - becoming a vital source of food to these species but with the domesticated cat they are not a food source but a game or a trophy to take home to their owner.
To help birds live alongside our domestic cat - cat owners and bird lovers alike can help achieve this balance by following some simple rules:
- Ensure you have plenty of food available for the birds in your garden dispensed from a range of feeders, a bird table and feeding station. The more food available off the ground the better rate of survival the birds will have as it will be more difficult for the cats to creep up and pounce on the birds unannounced.
- Site feeders a safe distance away from fences, trees or sheds where cats can lurk and pounce on the feeding birds.While still placing them near enough to offer the birds a place of safety out of the reach of cats.
- Keep the area beneath the feeders and table clean of food in order to discourage birds from dropping to the ground to feed where they are more vulnerable to the attention of cats.
- Keep your cat well fed and entertained so they don't hunt birds because they are hungry or bored.
- A bell on your cats collar will help warn birds' of their presence.
- Encourage cats to keep away from the bird feeding area by chasing them off when they enter- a quick squirt from a small water pistol will often help you achieve this. While totally harmless to cats they will prefer to not get wet and find alternative entertainment.
- Bird bath - water is essential to the birds in your garden for bathing, drinking and aiding digestion but cats and other wildlife can also be attracted to this so use a bath thats raised off the ground for hygiene and safety reasons
If you are still having problems with cats in your garden there are products on the market that can deter cats safely. Visit www.deteracat.co.uk
They sell cat scarer and cat deterrent products which are designed to keep cats away from your garden without hurting them. They sell Catwatch Cat Deterrent is the only ultrasonic unit recommended by the RSPB.
Birds Of Prey
While its natures way for birds of prey like this male Sparrow hawk to feed on wild birds we dont always want to be subjected to watching this in our gardens while our birds are feeding from the table or feeder.
The smaller garden birds can be offered some protection from this by dispensing their seed and nuts from one of these cage type Squirrel proof feeders.These are designed to stop Squirrels from stealing the birds foods and destroying the bird feeders in your garden but at the same time they offer the smaller birds some protection from birds of prey - birds have to fly inside the cage to feed and as this is their most vunerable time this type of feeder will offer them some protection.
Ground Santuary Feeders
If you have problems with Pigeons, Doves or large birds frightening off the smaller birds when you try to feed them then the santuary ground feeder is ideal. Its adjustable mesh allows you to let in and feed the birds of your choice.
The larger birds can still be fed from outside the santuary allowing you to encourage a wide variety of birds in your garden.
Is Your Garden A Birds Haven Or Hazard
If you feed the garden birds when planning the layout, design & maintenance of your garden its worth taking time to ensure your garden is not only a haven for you but also the birds and doesnt become a hazard.
Be careful when treating the plants, shrubs, lawns and trees in your garden with weedkillers or insecticides as many can be harmful to birds & wildlife. Check out the instructions and take heed of the warnings. Remember birds feed on the creatures we sometimes class as a nuisance in our garden -slugs, snails, insects and worms so why not let the birds take care of keeping these at bay instead of turning straight away to chemicals.
If you have hedges, trees or bushes in your garden please remember they are not only home to wild birds but especially their young in the breeding season. They will build probably be nesting and rearing their young right under your nose so leave the trimming and pruning until the autumn when they will have reared their young and moved on for the winter. If you want to prune before then ensure you check carefully before you start to ensure theres not the start of a nest or even a family of birds in residence.
Have You Got Mice In Your Garden?
Garden shed, compost area, greenhouse or other cosy shelter can become home to families of field mice as they settle down to breed.
Excess bird food on the floor will not only encourage mice to nest near by - for a ready source of food on their doorstep but could also be a health hazard.
So keep areas clean and tidy - feeding birds all year round is recommended and encouraged but by just taking a little extra care with cleanliness & hygiene might help reduce unwanted garden guests.
If you do get mice remember using traps or poison could be hazardous so ensure they are not left where your birds, pets or children can reach them.