Watching birds at a feeder can be an enjoyable pastime. Instead of simply relying on the Nature Channel to teach your kids about animals, use your own backyard as a launching pad to a world of outdoor discovery. But when drawing birds in close to your house, there are also dangers that arise.
The main thing you need to do is to keep your feeders clean. Birds will continue to be attracted to dirty feeders but you run the risk of them spreading disease to each other and ultimately you run the risk of being repulsed by "that dirty thing" hanging in your backyard. It probably isn't necessary to clean your feeders every time you feed them but every other time would be a good rule to try and follow.
Secondly make sure you are keeping any cats away from the feeders. From the birds’ perspective there isn't much more of a dirty trick that you could play on them. "Hey, come and have some dinner," and then…Pounce! If you have neighborhood cats that don't necessarily belong to anyone then you may want to utilize a baffle on your feeder and keep the feeder far enough away from buildings or trees that a cat won't be able to jump from one to the other.
Some people go so far as to put up black netting in front of their windows. This prevents the birds from flying into the glass. Another less extreme method would be to hang streamers or silhouettes from a window or even employing the use of a suction cup feeder.
There will always be natural predators such as hawks and shrikes, but then again there is always a system of checks and balances. A red-tailed hawk will always take a songbird if given the chance but in most circumstances, it doesn't have the flying skills to do so. Both the hawk and the songbird recognize this and usually ignore each other. On the other hand, crows and jays will persistently harass a hawk and all this racket will usually alert even the birds that would not possess the skills to escape. Generally speaking the main reason a winged predator would visit a backyard would be for chipmunks, rabbits or squirrels.
Enjoy this backyard activity and you will soon find yourself listening more intently to that mysterious whistle coming from the nearby trees. Just make sure you are doing everything in your power to protect this precious resource. Keep me informed as to any peculiar winged or furry visitors you may get in your backyard.
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