Bird feeders and dangers

I noticed several feeders less than 2 meters high.
This puts the birds in danger.

Feeders must be placed at a height of 2 meters.
Around the pole of the feeders arrange a net or chestnut urchins or or something else.

This way you protect the birds from your lovely cats.

Have a nice day

*** I apologize for my english**

4 Likes

Good ideas.

I only have hummingbird feeders. I would really enjoy seed feeders. I tried many variations of such feeders, but could never figure out how to avoid attracting squirrels or mice and rats.

1 Like

Here is a recent observation of predation at a seed feeder that surprised me:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/65334858

6 Likes

Cats are not the only predators. One also do not have that much control over other people’s pets or feral cats. Thus it is a good idea to design feeders that would be difficult to reach. If you do need feeders.

3 Likes

And someone goes around in nature and builds “safe” places for them to feed.

I do have control over feral and stray cats on my property…they will be removed.
The problem is that people want to accommodate the problem (cat)…the cat(s) is the problem, you do not accommodate the problem…that’s like “accommodating” a problem lion or tiger that is killing livestock or people or anything that is destroying your property or dwelling…You take care of the problem, get it out of the equation. If people have cats and do not care enough about them to keep them inside, then they should not have them…it’s disrespectful to others to let them run loose and harass or damage things and trespass on others property.

3 Likes

We probably live in different societies/cultures. Not much use in debating this then. Unfortunately indoor cats are not the norm where I live, and ‘removing’ other people’s pets will cause a lot of trouble. We have a big problem with feral cats and I do what I can to fund capturing and sterilisation. There is huge inequality here as well, it is not a simple issue.

7 Likes

The fantastic thing is that this is an international forum and the discussion can go from Switzerland to the Mississippi to South Africa to an island in the Pacific in a short time. And yes there are differences.

My feeders are safely at least 2m from the ground under the eve of our house. This also keeps it out of reach of Squirrels and Racoons. My brother on the mainland can’t even do this because it will attract black bears.

I am wary of hummingbird feeders because I am not confident in my maintenance routine.

Beside having suet type feeders I use hulled sunflower chips. The chips create less mess and the ground feeders seem to clean up after the discriminate finches that seem to throw away the seeds that are not the perfect weight. I seemed to have more problems with rodents before I switched to the hulled seeds.

I guess the other issues include the spread of avian disease but I am not to familiar with this - anyone know?

4 Likes

There you have the problem…people making it complex…when it truly is not.
Every creature/human has a right to protect its self, it’s space or dwelling, It does not matter where the creature/human lives or what type of society on whatever side of the world.
You don’t go into a wolves den and become a problem to them…because they will protect themselves. Even the most tiny insects will defend their space or territory.
All of creation has the same right…whether creature or human.

The cat is the problem…it has to go!

It’s only this simple if you haven’t spent more than a minute thinking about it.

You don’t go into a wolves den and become a problem to them…because they will protect themselves.

But if the wolves’ den is on your property, in your space, you can kill them right? Any thing that enters your property you can kill, because you’re protecting your space?

If a kid steals apples from your orchard, you “take care of the problem, get it out of the equation”? Because if people let their children “run loose and harass or damage things” “they do not deserve to have them”?

Also, that cat is someone’s property, so if you ‘remove’ them (and thus are destroying their property) they have the right to ‘remove’ you right?

And how do you determine what someone’s territory is? Should indigenous people be allowed to remove you from your land? They have the right to protect their territory right?

You’re talking about the lives of animals here, animals that are loved by people, that are part of people’s families.

8 Likes

Problems like these are difficult for me as someone who likes both birds and cats. I do not agree that all cats should be kept indoors. That is basically abuse, especially if they have previously been able to experience the outdoors. No animal should be kept inside all the time; would you tell your child they had to stay in and never get to go outside? If you did you would not be qualified to be a parent. Cats are animals too, and should be treated as such. Yes, it is dangerous for them outside, but it’s dangerous for you too and you still do it. I have thought this matter through and decided that indoor-outdoor is the best way to keep cats. I do not let my cats outside at night because it is more dangerous, but during the day they are free to come and go.

As for the bird side of the problem: Yes, bird feeders should be protected. However, many birds will die anyway, even if they are not caught by cats. Cars and natural predators are just as dangerous, just not as visible to us.

I have an unguarded feeder about 4 feet above the ground, but it is inside my chicken pen. This means my cats are unable to reach it, and wild ground predators can’t get through the fence. Plus, the chickens get to eat any spilled seed. This works great for me, although it wouldn’t be possible for many people.

2 Likes

Feeders can also spread diseases among birds. If you note a diseased/ill bird visiting your feeder, be sure to shut it down for a few days and clean in out.

With our sugar water feeders, we wash them regularly and keep a close watch on the birds that visit.

7 Likes

It’s not abuse to try to protect both your pet and wildlife. Even if a cat is used to being outside, you can install fences in your yard to make it impossible for the cat to leave, or build an outdoor cage that connects to the house so the cats can come and go. Even if you don’t care about protecting the birds and small vertebrates, you should care enough for your furry companion that you don’t let them wander on their own without supervision. Loose pets are in danger of catching diseases, getting lost/caught by the pound or even getting hit by cars. In the last 2 months alone I have found 5 roadkill cats (one of which was a young kitten, another a possibly pregnant female) and 3 roadkill dogs. I really hope none of your pets end up like that, cause let me tell you its an awful way to die.
Also, you can teach your child to not kill birds, unlike cats which hunt instinctively, so that’s a false equivalence. It’s not about birds not dying ever, it’s about reducing unnatural deaths and predation by invasive species.

5 Likes

I just bought my first real bird feeder, and this has always been my primary reason not to put one out. I’m planning to hang the feeder from a tree limb about 10 meters from my house. I’m having second thoughts now that you bring this up…

It’s not just cats: I believe that there are recorded incidents of avian predators (such as sparrowhawks and the like) staking out bird feeders because they attract prey.

2 Likes

The bird seed store owners suggested cleaning the kicked out seed around the bottom of the feeder every day. Only, my feeder was suspended over shrubbery not the patio. So, so that was not practical for me.

I considered putting a cloth/tarp under the feeder and shaking that into a can, but I did not think that would work so well for the plantings. Then, I considered attaching a pizza pan or trash can lid under the feeder. That may have worked, but I never got to trying it.

Perhaps you could put a trash can directly under the feeder, it would catch the waste shells and kicked out seed?

If you can find a solution that works, let me know. Bird feeders are so rewarding.

2 Likes

Cooper’s Hawks take advantage of birds concentrating at a food or water source. The roadrunner example I provided above is the same. Not surprising as almost any predator will figure out where the prey concentrate or can be predictably found and stake out that spot.

3 Likes

My local bird seed store provides a lot of help and tips:
http://www.losgatosbirdwatcher.com/tips.html

My tip: put out small amounts, frequently.

Sugar water gets moldy; it should be changed every 3 days or so (more in hot weather, perhaps less in much cooler times). so I put out really small hummer feeders that only hold a few ounces. We keep them near windows* so we can see how they are doing.

Also, because wet seed can get moldy, you can put out small amounts of seed at a time and then change it often. (They sell a product to add to seed to absorb moisture and keep it dry, but I worried about birds inadvertently eating that product and having it dehydrate them.)

*To avoid having the birds fly into the windows, I use a product called Window Alert. These are a special kind of static cling decal that unobtrusively warns birds away from the window reflections.

What sort of fence could keep a cat in? They are good at jumping and can climb anything wooden, so you would basically have to have either 20-foot-tall fences or a roof over your entire yard.

The reason we got cats in the first place was to control rats. My cats are very much pets, but they also do catch rats. That is a plus, not a minus. The rats currently live only in the woodshed and chicken coop, but without the cats they might move into the house. Yes, the cats do occasionally kill birds, which is very sad, but they catch more rats than birds and the birds they do get are not at the feeder. About as many birds have died from hitting the windows of my house as from being killed by my cats.

Cats should be allowed to hunt; it’s natural for them. I wasn’t trying to say that children are dangerous to birds, I was looking at the cat’s side of this equation (which no other bird people ever seem to do). Am I the only person who thinks it’s mean to confine an animal in a relatively small space for its entire life?

I do know the dangers of letting cats outside. One of my previous cats was killed by a predator, and another was run over by a car. The former happened during the night, which is why I no longer allow my cats outside at night. The latter is likely never to occur again. From what I pieced together, she was laying under a parked car, the kind that makes no noise when it starts. It started and drove over her. She was internally injured, but found her way home a few days later; we took her to the vet but they couldn’t save her. Let me just say, I do not live on a busy road. My house is at the very end of a small drive, and cars rarely go fast on it. The likelihood of a cat being hit by a speeding car is extremely low.

I’m not trying to sound like I care about cats more than birds. I love birds and will do what I can to protect them - as long as it isn’t bad for something else. My cats are like family, and I must do what I believe is best for them as well. So I let them outside during the day, and keep them in at night.

I don’t treat my pets as though they’re human, I treat them like they are living beings - which they are! Even though they aren’t human, they still deserve a little respect and care. If an animal is a pet and belongs to someone, then yes, it should be treated like it matters.

4 Likes

I once saw a Cooper’s Hawk grab a chickadee off of a bird feeder.

3 Likes

I am skeptical of bird feeders for a long list of reasons. People have mentioned vulnerability to cats. I also have seen Cooper’s hawks at feeders, but this is more part of nature so it bothers me less. People have also mentioned the spread of disease.

Another problem I’ve noticed is that feeders often keep alive species that might die or be driven farther south in cold winters, and these species can have detrimental effects on local bird populations. The big two I notice are brown-headed cowbirds, which are nest parasites and harm warbler populations, and house sparrows, which compete with cavity-nesting birds for nesting sites. Both of these can be supported by feeders in much larger populations than they could exist in the wild. You can reduce this effect by buying different seed, but probably not eliminate it. I’ve noticed that cowbirds in particular but most birds will turn to less-than-preferred food sources in the coldest, snowiest weather, and that’s when this stuff is critical.

I also am worried about changes to behavior and ecological effects on other species. I’ve read studies establishing that feeders do significantly change bird behaviors. Birds need to learn skills to survive in the world, and they have culture, i.e. passing on skills to the next generation. Time spent at the feeder is time not spent foraging in the wild, and the birds are learning a completely different set of skills to thrive at the feeder (often involving unnatural types of competition with other species they would not compete with as much in the wild.)

There can also be cascading effects on plant species. Year-round resident birds like blue jays, chickadees, nuthatches, and the like often cache seeds, and this act of caching is an important seed distribution mechanism for native plants. I have found a number of native plants with heavy seeds (i.e. not able to travel far in the wind) that came up too far from a source population to have been carried by wind alone, that I strongly suspect originated from such caching. When we feed birds at feeders, we take them away from paying attention to native plant seeds. Also, in many cases we end up having them cache and then spread into the wild various non-native seeds, since much of the seed used at feeders, even “high-quality” seed, is not native. I have seen a number of grasses coming up in my surroundings that I strongly suspect originated from bird feeders, such as Sorghum bicolor, which can be invasive. And even when the seed is native, purchased seed lacks the true diversity and adaptability to the local habitat of the seed that would naturally be in the area.

If people want to feed birds in winter, the best thing to do is to grow locally-native plants. I have done this with great results. For example, I’ve seen the mourning dove population in the surroundings of my home soar by a factor of 5-6 as I’ve planted and favored native plants with large seeds, that they prefer. I’ve seen dark-eyed juncos and native sparrows like white-throated sparrows and song sparrows increase too, and go after slightly smaller seeds. The native plants also support birds during the nesting season, through increased insect food, something feeders generally don’t do at all.

The native plants then also spread out into the surroundings. So for example, I live near railroad tracks. I planted some native wild lettuces, Lactuca biennis and some Lactuca canadensis, on my side of the tracks, and the wind blew the seeds onto the other side of the track where they are now spreading up and down the tracks. These plants have nice, big seeds that birds like, and during the growing season they support aphids, which warblers love in migration.

So it’s not just that there are problems with feeders, it is that there are other things we could be doing that address the problems facing birds in a much deeper and more powerful and more sustainable way, like gardening with native plants and removing problematic invasive plants from our property and surrounding wild areas.

If people put the amount of money and energy they put into bird feeders into more natural solutions, imagine the good we could achieve!

8 Likes