Below is a blast from the past! I wrote the blog post on 1st January 2009. I decided to re-post it now because I am still getting people with sparrowhawk problems
If you don’t want to click on the link the actual 2009 article is shown below the link
I think the RSPB believe that all hawks should be protected.
I don’t believe that. Sparrowhawks seem to be coming more common and numerous.
Sparrowhawks have no natural enemies so if they take up residence in an area and raise young each year they will need food.
A gentleman in this area has seen sparrowhawks take song thrushes time after time. I think the Song Thrush numbers are under threat. The sparrowhawk is not
If the sparrowhawk is protected and has no naturel enemies then they will become common – and then maybe will not need protection.
I belong to the RSPB, but I have also joined Songbird Survival. Songbird Survival is a charity trying to stop the decline in bird numbers.
It believes that one of the reasons for the decline in bird numbers is uncontrolled predation.
So we have two opposing views. Interesting.
I’ll put more information on about Songbird Survival soon. Or you can just google Songbird Survival.
Hi Dunnock lovers!
I’ve had two Dunnock’s nesting since the 11th May in a holly bush about eight foot from the house. The are totally unphased about us sitting near them.
I am confused though. She was really busy feeding over the past fortnight but we never heard any chicks. Then today (2nd June) she has stopped going into the nest and is now flitting about singing and appearing to be trying to attract another mate. There are no fledglings evident and no obvious predators! Does anyone know what may have happened. It is a quiet, urban garden with minimal cats!
I think the chicks must not have survived, but don’t know the reason.
Has any other Dunnock / Bird lover got any suggestions
I had a plea for help from a bird lover who could not stop a cat killing her garden birds
This is the reply from a cat owner with two suggestions which may help -
As a cat owner and bird lover I can see both sides of this issue.
Unlike dogs owners, cat owners cannot be held responsible for their pets actions. (WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT LEGALLY CAT OWNERS CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR CATS ACTIONS, UNLIKE DOG OWNERS WHO CAN).
Some cats hunt some don’t. Even female cats spray to mark what they consider to be their territory. There would be little that the owners could do to stop their cat hunting birds.
I won’t put collars on my cats as I have come across cats injured by accidents caused by collars when I worked for a vet. It sounds as though you need a solution that will work all the time – not just when you can keep an eye on things.
I am not sure how big your garden is but you could prevent the cat from getting to an area set aside for bird feeding by erecting a flexible fence that they cannot climb around this area. Have a look at http://www.purrfectfence.com/ I am not sure how expensive it would be but it looks almost invisible and the cats can’t climb in.
A fruit cage without the roof netting on would work as well. We have just put a fruit cage up on our allotment. We got it from William James – very reasonable price and not very visually intrusive. Hope this is useful. If you are good at DIY you could make your own.
The two ideas are
http://www.purrfectfence.com/ – a flexible fence round the bird feeding area
William James - fruit cage with out the roof netting
Thank you for sending this information.
Thanks very much for your help. The two ideas will hopefully help the person who has had such a desperate time with a cat savaging birds in the garden. Also it could help other people in the future
Hi Trish, With regard to the question of cat owners being responsible for their pets actions, I’m sorry, I probably didn’t word it very well. I meant that legally cat owners cannot be held responsible for their cats’ actions, unlike dog owners who can. I live in the country and 2 of our previous cats were much loved by our local farmer because they killed rats on the farm which saved him from having to use poison. They have their moments
Here is a heartfelt plea for advice from a reader - Can we help her?
hi there, i came across your website 2 months ago and i like it. I have read several articles you posted on your website including many of the ones about cats killing garden birds.
I was particularly interested in the one about the stray cat you had which sadly killed those two robins. I would like to share with you a frustrating and never ending problem in the hope that you might have some ideas on what i could do. I have been having ongoing problems with a cat for years, it is just the one cat which is a killing machine,always on the lookout to stalk and hunt wildlife. All it does is stalk wildlife. Ive never seen a cat as bad as this one.
Its owners are not responsible and their garden is tiny, i dont even think it is neutered as i have seen it spraying, and it isnt collared either. and it is always coming over to my g arden and other neighbours. It is a stressfull problem as it is just this one cat and despite chasing it out of the garden for years it still comes back. It has treat my garden like its personal little hunting ground for years but i only just got into wildlife 2 years ago so it has been hanging around in my garden for years previously.
Last spring it ambushed pigeons which were eating the fallen seed from a feeder. Hiding in shrubs and charging out to get unassuming birds. It also ambushed other birds i believe, likely ground feeding ones. I got so fed up last year that i took down the feeder for some days, and it affected the birds, they wondered where their feeder had gone to, i was so fed up and sad for the birds i think i cried.
I ended up putting the feeder back up but had to put it really close to the house. I like to treat wildlife equally and i dont hold the view like many others do that certain birds are vermin. I like the pigeons too but they are always the most vulnerable, aswell as the blackbirds and others. This cat is a nightmare and will always hang around when i am not around. I discovered it hanging around right by my back door last week, stalking birds which feed from the feeder. I could not believe it. When i opened my window it ran off. As i assumed it would stay away. It usually sits in a spot at the bottom of the garden where it can see all the feeders, and it uses this as its stalking path. I have approached the owners in the past and they were very ignorant, they didnt want to know and i had been polite to them. They were actually abusive when i finally went round to confront them in person. I had sent a polite letters before which they ignored. That was when their cats were defecating on my front lawn and it was causing a health hazard. Now i rarely get any cat feces on my front lawn, but the problem with the one cat remains.
Their other cats are not a problem, they do spray their urine which smells awful in milder weather, but its the killing of wildlife that holds my concern. Its only this one cat, and if i chase it out of my garden it will move on to the next, which is what happened last week, i observed it chasing birds and stalking the neighbours table. I feel really frustrated with the problem us compassionate people face. Its a really sad situation over here where we live as those who dont own cats have no rights, and even the RSPB and other places pander to cat lovers.
I had thought of buying deterrents but i cant use a sonic deterrent because it affects other animals, smaller animals. and the water sprayer is very expensive and im worried this cat is too sly and clever. Though it has got very good reviews Do you have any advice or suggestions? Im so frustrated , because this cat will be hanging around early morning at 4am onwards as we all know that spring is prime hunting season for cats. And i have been lucky to get more ground feeding birds lately, more than ever, such as dunnocks, blackbirds and even a song thrush! All of which are so vulnerable. I have been thinking hard about what i can do to protect them, and i plan to plant prickly shrubs, but i feel sad that i have to go to all this because of one cat. I fear that whatever i do it will find a way around it. Its a nightmare, id actually happily have the other cat in my garden instead,as that one isnt much interested in wildlife please reply,thanks
Could you put barbed wire on the boundary fence. I know someone who did that and it stopped the cat and saved the birds.
In Australia cats are not allowed out. Wish it was the same here. Cats get fed at home, which means they are always strong and healthy so find it easy to catch birds. Our garden birds have to search for food and never have a safe environment to go to. It is so one sided in the cats favour. I feel for you.
Does anyone else have any ideas?
Please read this link which is from an article in early April, but it’s still a difficult time for garden birds
Another update on my robins.
I guessed the robin that eats from my hand was female from it’s head marking. I now know I got this wrong.
Yesterday I witnessed him courtship feeding his mate. He took suet from my hand and flew to her and put it in her beak.
I had to look this behaviour up, as I have not seen it before. The male feeds his mate starting a couple of days before she produces eggs.
He will continue to feed her whilst she remains on the nest. As this only happens for a couple of days away from the nest. I was very lucky.
The femail robin only ate from my hand on 1 occasion and sadly hasn’t plucked up courage since.
A chilling story from Denise -
I have many feeders & nest boxes in my back yard. Many bird species , squirrels, chipmunks etc. I have tree swallows nesting yearly, and am hoping for bluebirds. But, I must be a good landlord and keep out the murderous house sparrows! I also see their aggressive attitudes, yesterday I witnessed a male pursue & kill another male. Couldn’t believe my eyes! I guess it’s true “only the strong survive”
Can I ask where you live?
Fancy that! I wonder how often it happens. I wonder if this happens all year round. We do think of these small sparrows as needing our protection, but we don’t know half of what goes on in bird world do we? Thank you very much for getting in touch
Good morning, can you help. I have an LBJ (little brown job) in my garden, the size of a dunnock, and looks like one, except it has a white collar, that goes up to a point under the beak. Any suggestions.
ANSWER FROM SANDY
Could be a reed bunting? I have quite a few in my garden, in fact more reed buntings than sparrows these days
Glad readers are helping each other out