Cat lovers – are you worried about feeding birds? Being hunters, it is only natural that cats will catch and kill birds when they can, and in some ways, feeding the birds brings them closer to your cats – but please don’t let this put you off. Even if your cat does take some birds, the benefits of supplying food, shelter and water to the birds outweighs the losses – and there are some simple things you can do to cut down the risk.
Here are some bird feeding tips from the RSPB, who believe that cats and feeding garden birds can work together:
- put a bell on the cat’s collar – an RSPB study shows that this can reduce predation of birds by 41%. The collar should have a quick release buckle and be fitted properly.
- make sure cats are well fed and cared for. This may encourage them to stay close to home and be less likely to wander.
- keep your cats indoors around sunset and sunrise and after bad weather clears – birds are most vulnerable at these times as its when they are most likely to come out to feed.
- try feeding cats at dawn and dusk, as it might encourage them to sleep at the time when birds are vulnerable feeding
- avoid putting food on the ground where cats are known to catch birds. Use a bird table or higher ground where cats cannot reach it.
- place spiny plants such as holly or an uncomfortable surface around the base of the feeding station to prevent cats sitting underneath. Or even place bird food on top of a hedge.
- position nest boxes where cats can’t reach or sit close to them (preventing parent birds coming to feed the chicks) and
- take your cat indoors if a fledgling is in the garden, until its parents lead it away.
Water pistol Deterrent
During the day we often hear a mother duck quacking on the stream, warning her ducklings that a cat is near. Sadly our cats have managed to scoop ducklings out of the river but now we find a water pistol very useful in this situation.
A robin in full song in our garden:
Photos: Toby Quinn, Penny Locke