Protect Your Backyard
Birds from Predators

Natural predators are every where, It's one of Nature's laws.

Nesting birds are very vulnerable to all kinds of prey animals, especially cats. As are fledglings and birds roosting for the night.

Bell collars on cats offer birds little protection as cats they learn to walk without a single jungle.

Nailing a sheet metal guard or cone to a tree trunk is unsightly, but it may deter less agile felines.

Houses mounted on metal poles are the most difficult for hungry critters to reach, especially if you have some kind of a baffle mounted to the pole.

What ever you do, DO NOT use a petroleum jelly any where near the birds. Feathers can get greasy and this hinders a bird's flight.

Gray squirrel

Dogs: Pet dogs are a hazard to nestlings and fledglings the spring and summer. All it takes is one swift bite and the baby bird is gone.

Keep an eye on Fido when fledglings are out and about.

Squirrels: Red squirrels and sometimes gray squirrels, can become a serious menace to bird houses and the birds themselves.

If you find your nest hole enlarged, chances are a red squirrel is the culprits Once inside the box, squirrels make a meal of the eggs and young.

Adding a predator guard of sheet metal to the entrance hole is usually enough to keep squirrels out


Raccoons and Opossum: Raccoons and opossum will stick their arms inside nest boxes and try to pull out the adult, young, and eggs.

Adding a predator guard to the bird house or to its pole support is a simple solution.

A guard on the box adds another inch or so.

This helps deter a reaching paw from getting to the vulnerable birds and eggs.

Some kind of baffle or guard attached to the pole will deter climbers from reaching the nest box.

Snakes: Snakes are an important part of the natural balance between predator and prey and like to hang out in your gardens.

If you find one of these reptiles in your bird house, please don't kill it.

Snake-proof your house by putting it on a metal pole.

Sometimes baffles work as snake predator guards, but I guarantee that clamping on carpet tack-board around the pole will keep snakes or any for legged creature from climbing the pole.

House Sparrows and Starlings: If you don't discourage them, these two pest species introduced from Europe will bully or kill cavity-nesting birds. Since house sparrows and Starlings are not protected by law, you may destroy their nests. But, remember, other birds are protected by law.

Look online or specialty stores for Sparrow spookers and Halos. They are quite effective in keeping House sparrows away.

House Wrens: Sometimes House wrens interfere with the nesting success of other birds by puncturing their eggs.

However, unlike the Sparrows and Starlings, these birds are part of the natural system. They are protected by law. Don't be tempted to intervene.

Often, placement or location of nest boxes will keep these little birds from destroying eggs and killing babies.

Insects: We don't often think of insects as predators, but Many insects lay their eggs and pupate in bird houses. You should inspect your bird houses for signs of gypsy moths, blow flies, wasps, ants, gnats, and bees.

Blow fly larvae suck the blood from nesting birds, ant can bite etc.

You can keep bees and wasps from attaching their nests by coating the inside of the roof with ivory soap or spray all natural cider vinegar or mint oil in and around your boxes.

Insects hunt by smell and the vinegar and mint will keep bugs away.

In areas where gypsy moths abound, avoid placing boxes in oak trees, which are favored by the gypsy moths.

Pyrethrin and rotenone insecticides are recommended for killing fly larvae, bird lice, and mites after birds have finished nesting for the season.

Never use these products during or before bird inhabitation. Birds are very sensitive to chemicals.

It is important to keep nest boxes clean as insect predators will hang around.

Clean your box with a solution of 10% bleach water or spray it well with rubbing alcohol.

Be sure your bird houses have dried before you re-hang out the "Vacancy" sign.

Hawks We often think of hawks when we hear the talk of bird predators.

Hawks are very much a part of the natural world. However, they aren't a predator until the young birds have fledged.

The most common hawks we see in our backyards are Sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper's hawk.

Both hawks are originally woodland birds.

Cooper's hawk

With the short wing span and long tail used as a rudder, these birds of prey can easilty manuver through trees and brush to pusue a bird in your gardens.

Instead of trees, now they fly around buildings, houses and barns.

As you can imagine, they are made for this kind of hunting.

Even apex predators like hawks aren't as successful as we might think. On average, the kill ratio is 10%. That is one success for every ten attempts.

If you have hawks, you can either look at it as you are still feeding the birds or look into feeder placement, planting more shrubs and trees or maybe think about stringing fishline here and there to deter hawks from swooping in on your favorite birds.

Its not easy being a bird and isn't getting any easier. We can do our part by offering nest boxes, feeders, and water and habitat.

As responsible backyard birders, we can also deter them from making a meal of our feathered friends and their future offspring.


Feeder Pests

Feeder Placement

Build a Wildlife Garden

Nest box Placement

Bird Houses

Monitor Your Boxes

Trees for Food and Protection

Shrubs for Food and Protection

Cavity Nesting Birds


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