Predators And Bird Boxes
Breeding season can be a dangerous time of year for birds as there are a number of predators that will prey upon eggs, hatchlings and even parent birds who are more vulnerable when they are looking after their chicks.
Ensure your bird boxes provide a safe haven from these predators, which can include cats, mice, rats, squirrels and even larger birds such as magpies, crows and birds of prey.
Choose a bird box that has a small hole which makes it more difficult for predators to enter and get at the birds inside. Predators will sometimes chew around the hole to make it larger so fix nest box plates to the outside to prevent this and stop larger birds entering the nest box. You can also use nest box plates to modify an existing bird box if you want to attract different species of birds.
You can also fit a tube to the entrance of your nest box; birds won’t mind using the tube to access the nest box but predators will find it more difficult to stretch through the tube to reach the birds inside. A simple piece of PVC or rubber tubing will suffice and some bird house suppliers make tubes that are camouflaged to look like the branches of a tree.
Some predators such as squirrels and cats will sit on top of a bird house to reach the birds inside. Choose a bird box with a roof that extends in the front of the box so that predators will find it more difficult to lean over and reach inside. A long roof will also provide better shelter from the wind and rain and will provide shade on sunnier days.
Many bird houses are supplied with perches which you may think are convenient for birds but can actually be dangerous. Birds don’t need a perch to access a bird house but a predator can use it as somewhere to balance on as they attempt to reach inside the box. If your bird box comes with a perch remove it before you put it up.
Make sure you site your bird box in a location where predators cannot easily access it. Ideally mount it 3 metres from the ground and away from overhanging branches from which predators can jump onto the house. We have some advice about where to position a bird house.
There are a number of ways that you can prevent predators coming into your garden and troubling birds. Make sure you clean bird feeders and tables and the areas around them to discourage rats and other vermin. During breeding season you may want to stop feeding nuts which will attract squirrels. And there are a range of cat deterrents available on the market as well as some DIY solutions.
It can be heartbreaking to find a family of baby birds destroyed by predators but by following these simple tips you should be able to provide a safe spot for birds to bring up their young.