Spring is the most critical time when birds are meeting with their mates, lay eggs, and raise young birds. However, predators are an enormous threat to birds in nesting season. Helping birds prepare for the new nesting season is what every homeowner should do as they invite birds to their gardens. In this article, we’re now going to talk about a couple of the best ways on how to protect baby birds from predators.
Who are the Predators?
Baby birds are some of the most vulnerable creatures in the animal kingdom. They are completely dependent on their parents for food, warmth, and protection. Unfortunately, there are many predators that prey on baby birds, making their survival a constant challenge. Creatures that predate a birdhouse include:
1.Snakes – Snakes are definitely the expert in hunting bird eggs and hatchlings. They can slither into nests, swallow whole eggs, or coil around chicks and squeeze them to death. Moreover, snakes can also climb trees and walls, making them a threat to birds nesting at different heights.
2. Cats – Domestic and feral cats are notorious for hunting birds and their nests. Even well-fed house cats are natural hunters and can’t resist the urge to chase and capture birds. Baby birds that leave the nest prematurely or fall out of it are particularly vulnerable to cat attacks. A single cat can kill dozens of birds in a season, making them a significant factor in the decline of bird populations.
3. Raccoons – Raccoons are opportunistic predators that will raid bird nests to feed on the eggs or young chicks. Nest predators like raccoons are particularly dangerous because they can wipe out an entire brood in one attack. Some predators can even smell the eggs or chicks from a distance and dig them out from under leaves or debris.
4. Hawks and Owls – These birds of prey often hunt baby birds in the nests or catch them when they first start to learn how to fly. They have sharp talons and beaks that can easily snatch a young bird from the ground or out of the air. They usually target smaller songbirds, but they can also take down larger birds like ducks and pigeons.
5. Other Mammals – Other mammals may also prey on baby birds if they get the chance. Believe it or not, squirrels are the critical predators of cavity-nesting fowl eggs and young. They will climb up to bird nests and steal eggs or kill baby birds.
How to Protect Baby Birds from Predators?
Here, we have listed the most effective way to increase baby birds’ survival from potential predators and guard your feathered friends.
1. Relocate Your Nest Box
Most murders take place in the birdhouse – predators like cats, snakes, and raccoons can pose a significant threat to baby birds in the nest box. So you need to choose the right location for your nest box. The location of your nest box will play a significant role in the safety and well-being of the baby birds. Try to choose a location that is not easily accessible to predators, such as cats or raccoons. Make sure the box is at least 6-8 feet off the ground, away from tree branches or other structures that may provide an easy jumping point.
2. Install a Predator Guard
Another way to safeguard your nest box is to install a predator guard. This is a device that makes it difficult for predators to climb or jump onto the nest box. Guards can be made from wire mesh or PVC pipe and should extend at least two feet above the nest box. You can also install metal baffles both above and below the birdhouse to minimize predator intrusion. Moreover, considering that predators can also chew their way through wooden entrance holes in nest boxes, to prevent this, install a metal entrance hole restrictor that only allows birds of the appropriate size to enter. These protectors can be purchased or made from sheet metal to prevent larger birds from using the house, either as predators or to usurp the nesting site.
3. Remove the Perches from Birdhouse
Removing perches from birdhouses can discourage predators and other unwanted visitors from entering and occupying the birdhouse. Perches can also provide a convenient landing spot for larger birds or squirrels, making it easier for them to enter and take over the birdhouse. By removing the perches, smaller birds are still able to enter and use the birdhouse while larger animals are deterred from taking over the space. And you’ll make it more difficult for them to access birds or eggs inside the house.
4. Clean the Area Around the Nest
One way to prevent predators from reaching the baby birds is to keep the area around the nest clean. This will deter snakes from approaching the area, as they prefer to hide in cluttered spaces. So, it is advisable to remove all debris, leaf litter, and other materials surrounding the nest. Regularly cleaning the surrounding area of the bird’s nesting place can reduce the chances of rodents that may prey on the eggs or the young birds. Additionally, tree branches that grow too close to the birdhouse can also be dangerous, which can provide easy access to predators like cats, squirrels or other predatory birds like magpies and crows. Therefore, trimming such branches can significantly reduce the threat of predators.
5. Use Predator Repellents
Using some predator repellents is another effective way to deter predators from baby birds. Birds do not have a keen sense of smell or taste and are not deterred by the products, but predators are. There are various natural repellents available that can be used to keep them away from the area where the baby birds live. These repellents work by emitting a scent that is unpleasant to snakes, and they avoid the area altogether. Some effective natural repellents include cinnamon oil, clove oil, and cedar oil. Hot pepper sprays or other products with a strong smell and taste can be applied around the aviary entrance to deter predators. For better protection, also use these products on poles, nearby plants or on the roof of the house, wherever predators can get close to the house.
6. Keep Cats Indoors
Cats should be supervised when outdoors during the nesting season especially since young birds leave their nest several days before they can fly, making them easy targets for curious pets. If they do go outside, put a bell collar on them as a warning to birds, or try to avoid letting them out during peak bird feeding time. Stray cats are especially dangerous to birds in the spring when fledglings are on the ground, so do not feed or they might linger in your yard and prey on birds. And try to keep your yard free of ambush sites where those naughty fellas can hide to attack.
Baby birds are very vulnerable and it is our responsibility to protect these vulnerable creatures. Choosing the right location, installing a predator guard, clearing the surrounding area, etc., are all essential steps to protect baby birds from predators. By following these strategies, you can create a safe and secure environment for birds to nest and thrive.