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Protecting birds from cats

Monday, 7th March 2016

Read this short piece suggesting ways to protect birds from cats from past experiences.
It is an undeniable fact that millions of wild (free living) birds and birds' eggs are taken by predators every year. Upsetting as this is there is little we can do as the losses are natural in as much as they are 'meant' to end up as food for other creatures. A cat's killing streak, however, can be curbed with a tiny, metal bell...

Who's killing all the songbirds? The usual suspects fingered for such cavalier treatment of birds are crows, jays, magpies and, of course, sparrowhawks who all take small birds and eggs in their diets. There is little we can do to protect birds from these predators as they are simply doing what nature has intended them to do. "Grey Squirrels and rats are also "culprits", and are arguably less a natural part of British fauna,' explains broadcaster and naturalist, Bill Oddie. 'Cats are - I'm sorry, but it's true - entirely "unnatural." And make no mistake, cats are responsible for far more bird deaths than anything else.' 

So what's to be done - what can we do to protect birds from cats? I can only share my own experiences here as this is what has worked in my wildlife garden for many years, and I have a cat: 

The first thing I did was to attach a bell to my cat's collar. It took him a few days to get used to this and it destroyed his hunting prowess immediately. The bell must sound like an air horn to animals as they seem to be able to hear it from a considerable distance. At any rate, the birds can scarper before the cat can get anywhere near the bird table and bird feeders. 

Those old enough to remember will recall Fred Flinstone putting out the cat at night... Well, I doubt that Fred was a bird lover as the safest place for them to be (as far as birds and cats are concerned) is inside overnight and fast asleep like my cat. 

'If you want to keep your garden cat free, there are various products available that may deter them,' explains Bill Oddie. 'Personally, I resolve to rush out and hissing like a giant "tom", which generally gives the local moggies the idea that they are not entirely welcome!' A less dramatic and equally effective way is to invest in one or two (safe for cats) cat deterrents like the ones to be found here http://www.haiths.com/squirrel-cat-repellents/ 

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