Protecting Your Feathered Friends

marsh-wablerSpringtime means the return of birds from their southern winter getaway. If you are anything like me, you are excited for the appearance of your feathery neighbors and want to make your yard a safe place for them to visit. I have put together a list of suggestions to keep your yard a safe.

1. Keep Your Pet Cat Indoors

The American Bird Conservatory estimates that up to 500 million birds are killed each year by cats.  Studies have found that declawing cats or arming cats with a belled collar does not work in reducing the cat’s killer efficiency. Domesticated outdoor cats are not a natural part of our ecosystems and have an advantage over natural because they receive shelter and sustenance from their owners. Keeping your domesticated cat indoors is the only way to prevent your cat from raiding a nest or pouncing on a feeding bird.  

2. Prevent Window Strikes

According to research by the Ornithology Department at Cornell University, the number of birds killed a year by window collisions may be as high 100 million. If you plan on hanging a feeder in front of your window it is important to reduce the windows reflective qualities by having tinted glass or using window treatments.  For more tips on window safety click here.

3. Limit Predator Access

Songbirds and their eggs have a wide range of predators, including birds of prey like hawks and owls, and other creatures like snakes, raccoons, and squirrels.  To prevent surprise attacks, bird feeders should be placed in an open space away from underbrush. To prevent predators from reaching into your birdhouse from the top, the roof should hang at least 6 inches over the front of the birdhouse. For more birdhouse placement tips click here.

4. Prevent Disease at the Feeder

According to the University of Maine there are 5 bird diseases associated with bird feeders, salmonellosis, trichomoniasis, aspergillosis, avian pox and mycoplasmosis. To prevent the spread of these diseases at your birdfeeder it is important to try and keep your feeder free of mold, fungus, and feces. Feeders should be cleaned and disinfected once or twice a month. Make sure to wear gloves while you clean. Before putting food in your birdfeeder check to make sure there is no mold growing in your feed. If you suspect an outbreak in your local bird population, try to encourage them to disperse and take down your feeders.  If you find a dead bird do not have direct contact with it and dispose of it immediately. If you find several dead birds in a short period of time call your local wildlife office or Audubon chapter.

5. Birdbath Maintenance

Birdbaths should be rinsed and have their water replaced daily. Still water can serve as a breeding ground for container breeding mosquitoes. Cleaning your birdbath everyday prevents this from happening and reduces the risk of birdbath acquired disease.


Depending on where you live the birds that call your yard home may vary. Different birds require different food and housing so I would suggest you do some research before you buy birdseed or put up your birdhouse. I would suggest visiting Cornell University’s Ornithology page: birds.cornell.edu

Happy Bird Watching!

Nest of Marsh Wabler via Shuttestock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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