Many backyard wild birds travel miles during migration, fighting off dangers like starvation, predators, and the weather. They stop along their journeys and sometimes find a home in your backyard. It’s important to provide them a space that’s as safe as possible especially because they will be likely resting after migration, finding a mate, protecting a nest of eggs, or taking care of their young during the springtime.
A few small changes and additions to your yard and your home will help keep backyard birds safe. We’ve compiled a list of easy things that anyone can do to help protect backyard birds across America.
First, it’s important to understand the potential dangers that are out there for your favorite feathered friends.
- • Pets, like cats or dogs
- • Larger bird predators, like hawks
- • Critters and animals that might eat eggs or injured birds, like raccoons, squirrels, snakes, or deer
- • Bacteria
- • Windows
Clean Your Feeders and Baths to Prevent Bacteria
Make sure the resources you provide are safe for your birds. Change out water daily in the birdbath, especially on hot days when the water can sit for hours in the sun. Make sure to change out the food often so that bacteria doesn’t grow in uneaten seeds. A best practice is to change the seed every 3-4 days on dry days, or daily on snowy or rainy days. By providing fresh food and water, your birds will be less likely to contract a disease or get sick from eating. To clean feeders properly, use 1 part bleach to 9 parts water outdoors and wash your hands after handling all bird supplies. The way you store your unused birdseed is important too. Keep it in a sealed container in a dry, cool place.
Protect Birds from PetsKeep cats indoors as much as possible. If they do go outside, put a bell collar on them as a warning to birds, or try to avoid letting them out during peak bird feeding time in the morning. If they do bring home a bird, do not praise the cat or reward them since this will be seen as something they should do again to make you happy. Do not feed stray cats that might linger in your yard and prey on birds.
When letting dogs outside, supervise them to watch for any potential harm to birds. Similar to cats, do not reward your dog if they bring you a bird.
Consider the Placement of your FeedersKeep feeders far enough away from windows so if birds have to quickly fly for cover, they won’t run into a glass window. Also, keep bird feeders about 10-12 feet away from shrubs or natural coverage. This allows birds to keep an eye out for predators that might be hiding in the trees or shrubs. It also provides a safe place to escape to that’s close enough for birds to quickly take cover if they sense danger.
Add Wire Fencing Around FeedersTo protect birds from becoming prey, try adding wire fencing around the feeder. Small birds will still be able to get through it and access the seed, but larger predators won’t be able to access the protected birds on the feeder.
Eliminate Small Critters from your Yard that Attract HawksAnother way to protect birds from hawks is by removing the other prey in your yard. Animals like mice are easy prey for hawks, which will keep them coming back to your yard if they are finding dinner each night. Try to remove the mice if you’re having a major problem with hawks.
Use Feeders without PerchesPerches on feeders can act like handles for squirrels or raccoons, or like landing spots for hawks. Try to use feeders and bird houses that only allow access for backyard birds. Also use feeders with metal or plastic poles which are harder for other animals to climb.
Elevate the Nesting BoxesKeep the nesting boxes higher off the ground to protect eggs, baby birds, and resting parents from predators like snakes, raccoons, and other critters. It’s recommended to have them at least eight feet off the ground, if possible.
Protect Birds from WindowsOne of the best parts of having backyard birds is being able to look out your window and watch your visitors. Keep your favorite birds safe by making sure these windows have decals, indicating to birds that they can’t fly through them. Sparkling clean windows can turn into mirrors on a sunny day, creating an illusion that there is no glass pane. Keep enjoying the birds by helping protect them from this potential danger.
Read our blog for other backyard birding tips like what seed to use, what birds you can attract, and the benefits of backyard birding.
Remember to keep those backyard birds safe as much as you can and enjoy the fun hobby of watching and feeding the birds.