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Create A Safe Haven For Nesting Birds

Good for you! You've planted attractive plants and provided food, cover and fresh water for the birds in your garden. As a result, you've likely been enjoying flocks of birds sweeping through your yard looking for nesting sites. But birds have many natural predators that are a daily threat, and some might surprise you. Owls, raccoons, hawks and falcons are some of the biggest threats, but don't forget about snakes, squirrels, cats, dogs and even bees and wasps.

Safeguarding Birdhouse Poles

Birdhouses on tall poles are an invitation to predators, so let your birds nest in peace by starting from the ground up. Choose a metal pole over a wooden post, as metal is more difficult for small animals to climb. Snakes will be deterred from slithering up that pole if you spread a mixture of petroleum jelly and cayenne pepper over it. They will be further discouraged if you install a predator guard toward the bottom of the pole. These guards are often made of sheet metal and look like large inverted cones. When they are positioned properly on a birdhouse pole, predators have a more difficult climb ahead of them.

Safeguarding Birdhouse Entrances

In spite of your best attempts to prevent predators from climbing birdhouse poles, some will make it up that pole, ready to add your birds and their babies to their menu. Raccoons can easily reach into the entrance of the birdhouse, so add a guard to prevent this. These guards are thicker pieces of wood with a hole, and they are attached over the existing entrance. This added thickness makes it difficult for predators to reach in and harm any bird inside. Eliminate the perch at a birdhouse entrance; birds don't typically need this in order to enter the house, and you don't want to encourage any other animal or bird predator to roost outside.

Safeguarding Birdhouse Roofs

The underside of birdhouse roofs creates another opportunity for predators to hang out. Wasps and bees love to build their nests in these overhangs, just as they do on your house. Keep them away from your birds and their eggs by rubbing a thin coat of bar soap on the inside of the roof.

And don't forget other animals—dogs and cats will naturally run after birds, trying to catch and eat them. Supervise your pets and avoid letting them run loose in the yard, especially during nesting season, when bird activity is at its peak.

With a bit of planning and forethought, the birds that you've worked so hard to attract can live in your yard in peace. While it may not be possible to keep all the birds in your garden totally safe from creatures that wish them harm, paying attention to these details will go a long way toward ensuring that your birds have the safest environment possible in which to live and raise their young.