Want to know 4 Deadly Threats To Backyard Birds?
First lets talk about why you may be putting birds a risk in the first place.
Attracting birds to your yard is a great way to see a variety of birds from the comfort of your own home.
Most bird guides will tell you that food and water are some of the most important ways to attract birds.
But attracting birds is almost an art in itself.
You need a good quality habitat to entice them in. Food and water simply won’t cut it alone.
Think about it.
If your favorite restaurant was in a pretty dodgy part of town, I bet it wouldn’t be enough to tempt you to live there, right?
Well, that’s because the environment is important to birds too.
A good habitat for birds meets their basic needs for food, shelter, and good breeding grounds.
But there is one fundamental need that even the best backyard habitat can forget to cater for.
And that’s safety.
Without safety in your yard, your birds will likely end up injured or even worse…
And I know you don’t want that happening right on your own doorstep.
This guide is going to take you through 4 deadly threats to backyard birds. We’ll talk about why they are bad and what you can do to fix the issue.
Great, let’s go.
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4 Deadly Threats to your Backyard birds
Threat 1: Glass Windows
Glass windows are one of the biggest threats to your backyard birds.
Think I’m being dramatic?
Well, nearly one billion. Yes BILLION, birds are killed by window collisions in the USA every year.
Birds are not aware that the glass is a barrier and so they don’t try to avoid it.
They see the reflection of the surrounding sky, trees, and landscape and think it’s safe.
This is particularly true for birds who aren’t regulars to your yard. A bigger bird or predator can easily spook them and cause them to try to escape into your window.
Why are window collisions bad for birds?
When a bird collides with a window it may initially seem like they are ok.
But just because they are able to fly away doesn’t mean they will be fine.
Window collisions usually cause birds severe internal injuries, which they die from later.
But there are changes you can make to your window to prevent bird collisions.
How to stop birds flying into windows
The fish and wildlife service’s guidelines recommend three main ways to prevent birds from flying into your windows.
1. Pattern Your window
For existing windows, there are various ways you can add a pattern to the glass to make it more visible to birds.
Some people have success with painting simple thin stripes on their windows. You can achieve the same effect by clipping parachute cords along the window length.
These are great inexpensive techniques for larger windows.
For smaller windows, there is the option of using a screen or netting barrier (like this one).
I’ve found the most success I’ve had preventing window collisions is using anti-collision decals. They are easy to place and are barely noticeable when looking out your window.
2. Reduce lighting
Artificial lighting at night-time attracts birds and causes them to fly into your windows.
Try to turn off any unnecessary lighting at night.
If you can’t then use blinds, shades, or shutters to keep the light from showing outside. These act as a barrier the birds will see during the day and avoid your windows.
3. New Windows
This one may seem a bit over the top
And no I’m not suggesting you go and buy all new windows for your home.
If you are thinking about an upgrade in the future, ask your supplier if they offer bird-friendly options such as:
- Etched or patterned glass
- UV patterned glass
- Channel glass
All these options can help you to naturally deter birds from your windows, without you having to do any extra work.
Threat 2: Cats
The next big threat to your backyard birds is outdoor cats.
Of course, they’re a natural predator to birds.
So when you start inviting birds to your yard, you’re also likely to start inviting cats to have a go at dining on them.
In fact, it’s estimated that cats kill over 2 billion birds in the USA every year.
Jeez, we’ve covered just two safety threats we’re up to 3 billion dead birds!
Even if you don’t have cats yourself, it’s likely your neighbor’s cats will see the opportunity to be had in your yard.
Why are cats bad for birds?
Cat often attacks birds for fun. Despite this most birds will die as a result of injuries or the shock of the attack.
You may not even think it’s that big of a deal. I mean why not let nature take its course?
The problem is that cats are responsible for the extinction of some bird species. And they continue to pose a huge threat to endangered species.
Even seeing a cat nearby affects the health of a brood of chicks and their survival rates.
Cats can also carry diseases such as toxoplasmosis and rabies. These diseases can be easily passed on to birds in your yard.
How to Stop Cats attacking your Backyard birds
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a well-fed cat won’t attack birds.
They usually don’t do it for food. It’s an in-built behavior they have to hunt.
Well, that and they sometimes like to bring their humans some gruesome gifts!
There are a few things you can do to prevent outdoor cats in your area from getting to your backyard birds.
1. Keep indoors
This is a bit easier if you own the cat.
Keeping your cat indoors is the most effective way to stop them from attacking the birds.
However, I realize this isn’t a great tip if there is no way you’d be able to keep your cat indoors.
Also, this won’t work if the problem is a neighbor’s cat.
The best way to make a domestic cat detectable to birds is by utilizing their collar.
A bright collar with a bell is a great way to alert birds. They’ll notice the bright colors quickly and the sound of the bell will scare them off.
I recommend this one as the multicolor makes it harder for a cat to remain camouflaged.
3. Consider positions
Think about the layout of your yard and where your feeder, baths, or birdhouses are.
Are they easily accessible to cats?
Anything that is on the ground or near walls and ledges is all easy for a cat to use and pounce on unsuspecting birds.
Feeding poles in an open area will help stop a cat clawing its way up. Adding a squirrel Baffle like this one will add an extra layer of protection for your birds.
Cats are quite sensitive to smells.
A good natural cat deterrent sprayed near your feeder may just be enough to ward a cat off.
This Green Gobbler orange oil is highly recommended by bird and wild readers. Sprinkling pepper near your bird feeders seems to have some success too.
Threat 3: Pesticides
Are you using pesticides in your yard to control weeds, insects or rodents in your yard?
Then you need to stop that habit now.
Pesticides kill around 72 million birds every year in the USA.
Why are pesticides bad for birds?
Basically, pesticides are toxic chemicals that are lethal to most birds.
Pesticides are also known to affect bird migration patterns. This happens because pesticides decrease the amount of body fat in the birds which affects their ability to navigate.
When female birds eat pesticide contaminated food it can affect their egg-laying hormones. And so they lay fewer eggs.
What’s more, is that pesticides can cause weak eggshells to form. This usually means chicks won’t successfully hatch.
Using insecticide is effectively killing off a food source for your birds. They are natural insect killers. attracting birds to your garden will keep insects in check.
Alternatives to pesticides for your backyard
Stopping using pesticides is the best way you can prevent your backyard birds from coming into contact with them.
Here are some tips to help you go pesticide-free in your yard.
1. Use non Toxic
Pesticides are really bad for the whole environment.
Consider switching to an eco-friendly brand like Natural Armour. You want a good alternative which makes the same products but with natural ingredients.
Homemade sprays of oils or strong smell like mint are great for keeping some pests away. Just be careful about using garlic or onions near bird feeders as these can be dangerous for birds to eat.
Try doing a bit of research on your particular garden pest to find out what natural remedies work for other gardeners.
2. Utilize the birds
Remember I said that insects are a food source for birds?
Well simply let them do their job.
In the spring season, birds are desperate for insect sources to feed their chicks. Cutting put the insecticide use will help to prove another food source for your backyard birds.
You may even find you attract more insect-eating species such as bluebirds, to your yard.
3. Let go of perfect
Changing your mindset can really help with this one.
Instead of trying to achieve the perfect looking lawn or weed freed yard, see it as a challenge to attract more wildlife.
Leave some weeds such as clovers or dandelions. This will help pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats to thrive.
Some pollinator species are critically endangered and can do with any help you can offer them. Saving a species is much more important than a perfect lawn, right?
Threat 4: Disease
The last big threat to your backyard birds is contracting a disease.
Although bird disease isn’t caused by humans. Our love of backyard bird feeding certainly doesn’t help.
Common disease and pest in wild birds include:
- Avian pox
And where do birds get these diseases and pests in your yard?
At crowded bird feeders.
The most common culprit is infected bird poop.
Why is disease bad for backyard birds?
One diseased bird can quickly infect hundreds of other birds in the area.
That’s because an infected bird will continue to feed at bird feeders. That exposes other birds to their infected sores, diarrhea, or parasites.
Diseased birds often find it hard to fly or source food due to disease symptoms.
Although they may recover from some diseases, others will kill them off.
Death for birds affects the population numbers of a species.
And that’s not good news if they are rare or endangered.
Preventing Spread of Diseases at Bird Feeders
The simple solution to helping your backyard birds is regular monitoring and maintenance of your feeders.
Let’s look at the best way to this.
1. Clean feeders regularly
You need to clean your bird feeders at least monthly.
That way you’ll help to clear out any nasties that have been lingering about.
The best way to do this is to empty them of any food and soak them.
Audubon suggests you can use hot soapy water, vinegar, or a diluted bleach solution.
I actually prefer to use sanitizing tablets (these are my favorite) as you can make up a 150-gallon batch to clean multiple feeders at once. These tablets are food-safe grade, so I feel happy using them on my feeder without the risk of harming the birds.
You then simply rinse your feeder with fresh water and leave it to air dry.
Just fill them up with fresh bird food and your feeders are good to go.
2. Assess food
If your birdfeeders are successful you should hopefully be refilling them every few days or at least once a week.
Your seed should be dry and loose.
If you find that your seed is wet or growing mold, then clean it out and start again.
Bird food that has this appearance is likely growing lots of bacteria and disease.
You might want to consider if you bird like the type of food you’re putting out to them. If it’s not getting eaten they probably don’t.
Instead, try a bird food that most birds will eat, like sunflower hearts. Or you may just want to offer less food in your feeders.
Always make sure your feeders are draining well, especially if you live in a wet area.
3. Add more feeders
If your feeders a popular you should consider adding more.
Overcrowded feeders are a surefire way for birds to pass on disease easily.
The closeness and exposure to disease surfaces will make infection spread like wildfire.
Spreading your feeders around your yard disperses the birds. This reduces the chances of them contracting anything from one affected feeder.
4. Have a Sickness policy
Be aware of sick or dead birds at your feeders.
At the same time, keep yourself updated on any local birdwatching news. They will notify you of disease outbreaks in your area.
As soon as you suspect any signs of disease at your feeders take them down immediately.
Thoroughly clean your feeders and any area around or directly below the feeder.
It’s recommended you keep your feeder sown for at least 2 weeks to ensure any diseased birds have died or the infection had passed.
To wrap it up you can see that there are lots of dangers for birds in your yard. These can all affect how long a bird can survive.
You can help them avoid these dangers by
- Preventing window collisions
- Keeping cats away
- Stop using pesticide
- Preventing disease spread
Making these small changes to your yard and home can help to save lots of birds.
And with so many endangered native bird species, every little helps to prevent them from disappearing forever.
If you found this article helpful or you feel it would help other backyard birders then please share.
As always I enjoy your feedback. So let me know how you are helping to keep the birds in your yard safe in the comments below.