im new to bird watching , and i'm wanting to make my garden bird friendly, i've inserted a picture as it is now.
I get a lot of cats in the garden and need to find an animal friendly deterrent.
The RSPB sells a cat deterrent gadget that might do the trick for you - not used such a thing personally, but seems to get some positive results. Otherwise, careful layout of the garden and feeders can help - are the cats actually catching birds? If so, what ones? It may be that the feeders are fine but ground feeding birds are getting taken (for example), in which case some protection for them is what you're after.
However, it's also possible that cats aren't taking any of the birds at all and you have nothing to worry about. We have two cats and they do hang around near the feeders sometimes - but they're after the mice you inevitably have when you're feeding the birds. So you may find your feline visitors are actually helping keep down your garden rodents :-)
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Hard to tell from the photo, but the garden looks open plan and has trees and other cover for birds. I personally would move the feeders further away from the hedge. Birds will be more wary further out, but less likely to be ambushed by cats. The more exposed though, the more easy for sparrowhawks (which you may be happy to have visiting anyway. I am (so long as they don't catch nesting house martins!)).
Re cat deterrents, I've had several electronic ones. Unfortunately, none are 100% successful. The RSPB recommended one has been the best in my experience, but has it's faults. Battery operated, it has no noticeable effect. Mains operated, you then have cable type issues. (e.g. untidy, risk of mowing over, tripping on, digging up etc). These can be avoided, but less so if you have kids or are a bit clumsy like me. Even mains operated, they are of limited value. Cats get used to them and access the garden a different way. Some cats are unaffected anyway (e.g. deaf ones!). I have a powerful water gun which keeps cats on their toes, but cats recognise the window opening sound now.
As you know yourself, cats catch whatever. They don't choose between fur or feathers (they are also happy catching frogs and toads). At a previous house, I lived next door to a cat that was happy mauling butterflies.
We've lost our bank voles. Had them ever since we moved in, but new cats in the area have wiped them out. Occasionally, we get mangled shrews dumped so we still have a few of them about.
Good plants for goldfinches are evening primrose and teasel. If you have space a wild or bird cherry tree are good for bullfinches if you get any in your area. A pond is also a good wildlife feature which birds are happy to drink from.
Adding to the plants issue - Goldfinch just love picking the seed from Lavender plants.
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In reply to Whistling Joe:
Thank you for your reply.
No I not seen the cats catch any I used to see them sat underneath the feeders, then I read that if you put sticks into the ground where cats sits to stop them that has worked a little then I spotted a cat in the tree.
I'm not knowledgeable on different birds species I know I get robins , Blackbirds collared doves ,and the odd time Magpie.I don't have a good camera and i've been trying to take pictures because Id like to know which i'm getting,I do believe I get quite a few different ones in.
In reply to Robbo:
I will try that. I have no preference as to what Birds I get ( a goldcrest would be nice cute little fella) in truth I only started putting food out last winter and now I get lots of birds I often walk into my kitchen and the garden is full of them .
I'm not knowledgeable on different birds species, I know I get robins , Blackbirds collared doves ,and the odd Magpie.I don't have a good camera and i've been trying to take pictures because I'd like to know which i'm getting,I do believe I get quite a few different ones in.
Hi Melanie, Welcome to the Forum. Since birds love a good bath, you might want to give them a supply of water. Sorry, I can't see if you have already done that. I also suggest you find some way to raise a bird bath up off the ground. You can buy bird baths which are up on a stand and you can buy baths which you can hang from a branch or from a feeder pole. We have a terracotta chimney pot on a path and about an arm's length from climbing plants on the end of a trellis, and we've put a plastic plant pot tray on top of the chimney pot and keep it filled with water. This gives the birds a good view in all directions and they are bathing about 80 cm above the ground, more safely than if the bath was on the floor. Because the bath is not right up against the trellis, the birds will not be ambushed by any cat hiding there but they are close enough to fly into the trellis for shelter if need be.
In reply to Melanie123:
Melanie123 said:I don't have a good camera and i've been trying to take pictures because I'd like to know which i'm getting,I do believe I get quite a few different ones in.
Hi Melanie, there are some pretty good guys on here at identifying birds, so even if your photos aren't fantastic, I'm sure we can have a go, it would be nice to know what you have visiting & you can do the Big bird count too!
Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France
In reply to Noisette:
Thank you for your reply, I will try take some this weekend . I have applied and received my bird count pack, not sure how I will do but ill give it my best.
In reply to Gardenbirder:
Thank you for this, as now I no why they seem to favour the flower pots that filled up with rain water. I do have two bowls of water out one is on the bird stand with the food however it does get dirty quite quick with the food going in it, and one on the ground but this was for the hedgehogs . - shopping list - Bird bath
I certain agree with the positive comments regarding bird baths. However, IMO, they are of most use if a pond is not an option. Ponds provide food sources as well as drinking and bathing options for birds (and other animals), and of course need far less topping up than bird baths. The baths are at their most important in dry spells when many people go away. FYI, I personally just leave a couple of plant pot saucers out. Far less expensive, and some bird baths are not only expensive, they aren't particularly frost proof.
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