Provide Safe Haven for Wild Birds In Your Yard
A Great Place to Pick up Chicks!
Even If You Have Cats!
I have eight cats. Now, you would think that this would make it impossible for me to have a thriving bird population in my yard, but that just isn’t true. The key to having lots of birds in your yard, even with cats is to provide the most natural habitat and food sources you possibly can. Here’s how you do it!
Provide food, but don’t put out bird feeders. Bird feeders are an unnatural food source that tend to cause birds to bunch up and pay more attention to competing for food than watching their surroundings. This makes them easy pickings for felines - even fat felines who are no great shakes as hunters. Instead, plant trees and bushes that will provide the birds with a natural source of food and a place to nest.
In my yard, I have several large, fruit-bearing mulberry trees. I also have a thick, tall privet hedge that produces berries that the birds enjoy. I attract doves, cardinals, mockingbirds, jays, blackbirds, sparrows, and many others with this delicious treat. The berries are so high on the trees and bushes that the cats can’t get anywhere near them, and the birds can feast happily and safely.
If you are going to provide seed, set it in wide trays in several open spaces in your yard so that the birds never have to bunch up too much to eat and they can see the cats coming! My cats are never able to sneak up on the birds this way.
Provide several different watering areas. I have a small pond as well as multiple shallow dishes around the yard. I provide these for the birds as well as box turtles, toads and other resident wildlife. Again, the idea is that the birds never have to bunch up in one place to bathe and drink. Many birds use the water dishes that I provide all over my yard, and I have never seen a cat catch a bird at one. Be sure to put fresh water in each dish daily to keep it clean and drinkable and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
Keep your yard shaggy enough to provide cover. Don’t prune your bushes back severely. Leave them tall and thick enough to provide safety for eating and nesting. I have multiple bird nests in my yard every year. The birds just build them high enough in the trees that the limbs are too thin for the cats to be able to reach. I never have any problem with my cats preying on the birds.
Don’t use poison in your yard. If you use poison, you will kill off a food source for birds and other wildlife. When you do this, birds and other critters will not be attracted to your yard. It’s as simple as that. Any that do venture into your yard will be likely to get poisoned. Instead of spraying for bugs, trust the birds and other critters to help you with them. They will. I use no poisons of any kind in my yard, and I have no problem with mosquitoes and other pests. This is not to say that I don’t have them at all, but their numbers are well controlled, and they are not bothersome.
By working with Mother Nature, I attract a vast array of birds and other wildlife to my yard, and I provide a habitat that keeps that wildlife safe and well-fed with very little effort from me. Of course, it helps that my cats are all happy, healthy, and well-fed. They are not as likely to go to extremes to bother the wildlife as if they were feral. I have had the occasional wandering Tom cruise through and wreak a little havoc. But, for the most part, I have found that a natural habitat is a safe habitat where wildlife and felines can get along happily.
For more about my wildscaped yard and native creatures, you may enjoy:
Snakes and Other Natives