Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Protecting bird feeders from cats

Ollie didn't get any birds,
despite being able to 
jump into the feeder!
By the time he landed, 
the birds were gone.

City residents complain that cats are at their feeders. I say, don't feed the birds, if you care so much about them. They don't need your food. If the birds cannot find enough food, then they are in the wrong habitat. Many like to feed the birds, in order to watch them. This may be selfish if you are luring cats.

Every year, as winter sets in, people like to feed the birds. Some like to begin going after cat owners. Several nature groups have campaigns going, based on faulty studies. We don't know how many cats or birds there really are out there!

We get lectured on keeping our cats indoors. I'm tired of it. We live on 16 acres, we have a wonderful, deep ecosystem, and we are a part of it.

There are many reasons why cats are attracted to birds feeder. They cannot catch any but the most non-vigilant birds, but they are drawn to the mice who visit. The feeder, and the mice, drew both a sharp-shinned hawk, and a saw-whet owl.

Cats are drawn not so much to the birds (they know, after awhile, that they cannot possibly catch them) but to the mice that are drawn to the food.

This is why we had a Saw-whet owl watching our feeder one morning. It fell asleep in the tree.

There are options, if you must feed the birds:

  • Taller bird feeders don't matter, as many birds knock seed onto the ground and the ground feeders (junco, mourning doves) will be there. 
  • Dorah seldom grabs a bird,
    she's overweight!
  • Wrap your feeder base, just the way people do to keep deer away from plants and shrubs.
  • Clear shrubs and plants from under the feeders, where cats can lie in wait. 
  • Change bird feeders, some are better than others. A platform ensure ground feeders have a place to land, above the cats.
  • Place chicken wire in front of shrub fences in smaller backyards, to keep cats out. 
  • Install poultry fencing with garden staples to keep the cats from pooping. Also, lava rocks, or large stones.
  • Do not feed birds in summer, when foliage can shelter a hunting cat. 
  • Install your feeder inside a water treatment. 
  • Install a motion-sensor device (which emits a sound, or water) to scare the predator. This doesn't work in subzero winter temperatures, of course.
  • Relocate your feeder.
  • Fill your feeder with only enough food for the daytime. 
  • Refrain from feeding birds if neighbourhood cats abound. It's just that simple.

 One woman suggests:
 "Repelling house cats from outdoor bird feeders ... sprinkling cayenne, cinnamon or chili pepper around the area. " 

It's hard to stop them hunting.
We need them to keep down the mice.
I am vigilant, and we often catch-and-release.
This is horrid, to put down noxious substances, as any critters can get the spices in their eyes, including raccoon kits and smaller animals. We get a lot of animals at our feeders. From Tigger, our buck, to raccoons, the sharp-shinned hawk, many critters are drawn to feeders.

The cats have caught 4 chickadees, 2 juncos, a baby bird, and a sparrow, in 2016. All prolific birds in our region. Most of their prey (66%) are mice. Mice are drawn to the bird feeders, as well. This is why we let the cats out at night in summer.


Debbie said...

lovely peaks at nature - love the deer!!!

Powell River Books said...

I need to find a way to protect mine from the rain. The seeds get so wet they get mushy and sprout. I tried making the top larger with a tin pie plate but our sideways rain still gets underneath. I gave up and took it down, but I feel bad for my one little song sparrow. I bought a suet feeder to see if that will work instead. - Margy

Jans Funny Farm said...

A very good post! You definitely should not have to keep your cats inside. We do here but you have a huge (to us) property and common sense about feeding the birds.

Cat Lover said...

Thanks for all the information. I love feeding the birds and have done so my whole life. But I do love cats too. Growing up we had two cats and my parents fed the birds too. I dont' really remember the cats ever bringing birds into the house.
Such wonderful photos too. Thanks for sharing them

William Kendall said...

Very sensible suggestions!

NatureFootstep said...

nice post.

Anvilcloud said...

I don't blame rural people for letting their cats roam, but I wish that we could apply better rules in town. Cats can certainly adapt to being indoors only, especially if they're that way from the beginning. Mind you, my complaints have nothing much to do with birds as they are both a part of nature.

Crafty Green Poet said...

good advice!

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