There are a number of simple steps you can take in your yard to help protect your feathery friends from the neighborhood marauder — yes, somebody’s prized cat that is let out of the house to roam yards and hone its natural hunting skills by preying on wild song birds.
Step #1 – If you can identify the owners of the cat, contact them and remind them of local, county, and state ordinances dealing with unleashed pets. Make a direct appeal to the owners to keep the pet out of your yard at all times or you will contact the Animal Control Authorities and report the next incident. A digital photo of the cat in your yard around nest boxes, feeders, and bird baths is usually sufficient proof for the owners as well as Animal Control Officers.
Step #2 – If the owners continues to allow the pet to roam freely, contact Animal Control, report the situation, and request the use of a small animal trap. These types of traps are very effective and will not harm trapped animals. Unfortunately, the trap will close when the trigger plate is depressed regardless of who or what tripped it. You may wind up having trapped the cat, a possum, or a curious black bird. If you trapped a mystery visitor and need to translocate it a new habitat, contact your local or state Wildlife Resources organizations for designated locations.
If you did trap the cat, call Animal Control for pickup and processing. Many pet cats have microchip implants in their shoulders that can be scanned for identification purposes. In some cases, the cat may be wearing an ID tag. Many local ordinances allow the owners, upon proper pet identification, to reclaim it after paying a fine. The ordinances include progressively larger fines for repeat violations.
Step #3 – Placement of nest boxes, feeders, and bird baths can drastically affect the safety of wild birds. If nest boxes, feeders and bird baths are located too near thick bushes or shrubs, the marauding cat can lie under them out of sight and attack quickly enough to snare a bird. Shrubs and bushes tend to grow over time. Some of them quite rapidly. You should frequently assess the “threat potential” posed to birds by growth patterns. Either prune the shrub/bush or relocate the nest box/feeder/bird bath to provide safe zones of open area around them.
If your marauder is a particularly aggressive cat, you may have to resort to using low poultry wire perimeters around the closest shrubs and bushes to deter the unwanted hunter.
Step #4 (optional) – I have developed a portable mounting system comprised of a concrete base and utilizing threaded galvanized pipe. The base is heavy enough to be completely stable yet light enough to be easily relocated. I use quick-setting concrete that can be dyed to match specific decors. The galvanized metal pipe can be spray painted as needed to match decors.
By using the portable mounting system, I have the flexibility to place nest boxes, feeders, and bird baths where they are accessible and safe for wild bird use.
Portable Mounting System
I hope you found this article useful. If you would like a copy of the plans, bill of materials, and instructions for the portable mounting system, feel free to Email me at Bluebird Shepherd.
If you have a specific area of interest that you would like for me to concentrate on in a future article, please Email me at the address shown above.