Many birds die every year from trauma or predators, so it is important to make your backyard a haven for birds. Some songbirds can live up to 10 or 12 years if they live a safe, trauma-free environment. Creating a safe environment for birds in your yard is essential for the health of your backyard birds.
The greatest danger to backyard birds is a family pet, such as a cat or dog. Young birds are very vulnerable to cats and dogs during the spring and summer. During this time, it is a good idea to keep your cat indoors and your dog on a lead or chain when in your backyard. Keep neighbor pets out by installing a fence around your yard. To protect birds from stray dogs and cats, call your local branch or SPCA to pick up strays.
Other predators such as squirrels, raccoons, opossums and others can also be a nuisance to birds. Squirrels like to get into the nest boxes to eat the bird eggs and young birds. In order to protect your backyard birds from a variety of small animals, set up traps and relocate them to another area.
Another way to protect young birds from other larger birds is to keep evergreen branches on the ground around nesting boxes or bird houses. This helps to provide young birds with cover in case they fall from the nest. Also, do not try to seek out the bird’s nests to see the young birds. This will attract predators to the nest.
The best way to protect birds is to set up nest boxes or birdhouses that hang from a pole or mounted to a pole. By using a pole, such as the Ultimate Yard System by Droll Yankees, small animals, cats, and dogs will have a difficult time getting to your backyard birds. You may also want to install a predator guard on the pole, such as a baffle or a metal sleeve, to make it harder to climb up the pole and get to the birds.
Reflective glass on your home can be very deceptive to birds and is a leading cause of bird injuries around the home. If you have big windows or glass doors, it is likely that a bird will fly into the glass when there is a reflection of the outdoors. When birds hit the glass, they often suffer head injuries if they are not killed.
To prevent birds from flying into your window, it is a good idea to place something on the window or hang something in front of the window. Decals are ideal for preventing birds from flying into your window and are very easy to place on your window. The Warning Web for Birds by Droll Yankees
is proven to deter birds from flying into the window. Once birds see the web, they are deterred from flying into it.
Another great trick is to hang up colored streamers on the outside of the window to help deter the birds from flying into it. The birds will be able to see the streamers from a distance and fly in another direction to avoid the window.
If a bird does hit your window and lives, the bird will probably be dazed and fly away. If the bird is too dazed to fly away, then place a kitchen colander or other breathable object over the bird until it is able to chirp and fly again. This will help protect the bird from predators. Try not to touch or handle the bird if possible. Release the bird once it is acting ok.
Before you help or pick up a young bird or nestling found on the ground, make sure that you follow these simple steps:
1. Don’t assume that the bird found on the ground has been “orphaned” by the parent bird. Most young birds on the ground have not been orphaned. A parent will not typically leave their young on their own. Usually the parent bird is nearby watching over their young and providing them with food. This may even be the case if a cat or dog has caught the bird.
2. If you have determined that the parent bird is not nearby and the young bird has fallen from the nest, put the young bird back into the nest. The parent birds will not be able to get the young bird back into the nest. The parent birds will NOT reject the young bird if it has been handled by humans. A good bird book can be very helpful in determining what type of young bird needs help.
3. If the entire nest is found on the ground, put the young birds back into the nest and place the nest into the tree where it was found as soon as possible. Secure the nest to the tree with wire cloth or a small wire basket if necessary.
4. If the entire tree branch with the nest has fallen off of the tree, try to reattach the branch to the tree. You may want to use wire or rope to tie it to the tree. Try to keep the branch tied to the tree until the birds have hatched.
5. If the nest has been damaged by the fall or by water, try to build a new nest for the young birds. To build a nest, use wire or a small wire basket and use dry grass and leaves as a filler. Put the young birds into the nest and place it back in the tree. Do not use cardboard or wood to made the nest because they can harbor moisture and mold. Also, make sure that you try to return the young birds as quickly as possible to the original location.
6. To help prevent fallen nests and orphaned birds, place nesting boxes around your yard to encourage birds to make homes inside them. Nesting boxes
can be secured to a tree or a post and are harder to blow away in a storm.
“Homeowners in certain parts of the United States are finding an increasing number of dead birds at their backyard feeders. The likely culprit is a strain of salmonella that is being passed among the birds.”
Salmonella bacteria can be found in rotting seeds in bird feeders and those that fall to the ground. The bacteria is then transmitted through the birds’ droppings.
Pictured to the right is a EZ clean bird feeder worth taking a peek at.
Homeowners can help stop the bacteria’s spread by cleaning feeders with a solution of one part bleach and 10 parts water. Hydrogen Peroxide is also an idea. Residents should rake up old seeds from the ground and spread one-quarter inch of lime underneath the feeders. The lime may harm the grass, but it will kill the bacteria. Move the feeder to a different part of the yard if sick or dying birds are present.
Dead birds should be picked up with gloved hands and disposed of immediately.
Remember, birds will also flock to a clean feeder much more often than a dirty one – an added benefit of keeping the backyard feeders a bit cleaner this year.
It’s important to make sure the food in feeders is fresh. Seed and other food can become spoiled and develop mold rather quickly. Rotting food can attract harmful pathogens, so be sure to change it out frequently if necessary.
Finally, Avoid Overfeeding:
Too many birds together is unnatural, unsanitary, wasteful and dangerous to birds. Viewing only a few birds is more appealing than a bunch of noisy fighting birds. It is best to cut them off occasionally. They will find feed elsewhere and come back when you feed again.
This will promote independence and make them more resourceful, smarter, and healthier.