Hello everyone, I am new here and this is my first post - I am after some general advice please about garden birds.
I always keep food out for the birds that visit my garden, and love seeing the sparrows coming to raid the bushes for insects and have a communal bath. I have blackbirds who visit, too, and I’ve even grown to love the pigeons who clumsily raid the feeders. My problem is that my next door neighbour has recently got a cat, and it turns out he is a keen hunter. At first he wore a bell, but she took it off him because she doesn’t want him to wear a collar, for his safety (which is fair enough, I love all animals).
A few pigeons have had near misses with this cat, as there are lots of bushes where he can hide, and I’ve seen him bring home a sparrow from another neighbour’s garden (and I’ve learned that they are category red?) I stopped putting food out then, because I was afraid I was just creating a complete playzone for him. But since then, the birds have been coming as usual to the table and where the feeders were, but of course just finding them empty. I’m conscious that it’s breeding season and they will have young to feed. A local bird rescue posted about young starving birds being brought in to them and I just feel so much guilt.
I’m wondering really if anyone has advice on what I should do? Am I wrong to put out food when I know there is a predator around? Or is it wrong to not provide food when it has been so readily available? I’ve put ground coffee along the places the cat was hiding to try to deter him, and I’ve not seen him in a few days now. I’d love to hear what other people think as I’m torn completely on what to do for the best.
Here’s some pictures of some of my visitors (Though I’m not great with a camera) Thank you for reading, Kath x
In reply to Ladybarefoot:
You could get a sonic cat deterrent. I've had very mixed results at best, but might be an option. The only one that worked at all was the RSPB recommended one, but that only worked when on mains. Battery power didn't seem to do very much, at least not after a short while. Another option is to ignore sparrowhawk predation, which is far more sustainable than cat predation. The feeders need to be away from ambush sites, as others have said. Sparrowhawks catch what they need to catch. Cats will keep catching each and every day whatever they can. (unless it's wet, when they seem to prefer to stay warm and dry). I personally would speak again with the neighbour about the bell on the collar. If they still don't want to use one, I would put the corpses on their side of the boundary, so they better understand the destruction that they're deliberately causing.
Hi Kath, we also have cats that frequent our garden here, and thankfully, damage to birds and squirrels is extremely limited to just a few feathers in the successful attempts to get away from danger.
The birds and squirrels have got our local cats sussed out, so hopefully any that do suffer would probably be at the end of their life, which I know seems hard, but that is nature and if it isn't the cats, then other predators will get and do their job.
However, it does provide endless amusement watching these birds and squirrels taunt the cats.
As per suggestions already made, plenty of cover in the form of bushes and shrubs, which we have plenty of here, along with trees and one garden border is a privet hedge which many birds fly in and out of.
All feeders are high enough for cats not to get to, while low enough for us to view and easy access to top them up.
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