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If you have worked hard to attract birds to your garden, it might not be long before you also attract problems to your gardens. With more cats kept as pets and foxes coming into gardens more often, it is essential to know some of the potential hazards in your garden for birds.

It is best to clean up any uneaten food as well as keep a tidy garden. Foxes may feed on birds, while squirrels will steal their food. Natural predators such as magpies, jays, and sparrowhawks can be kept away with the right bushes and plants. It is best to put something on the windows so that birds realise they are solid.

As lovely as having more birds come into the garden, they will also bring in other birds such as Sparrowhawks, Magpies, Jays, and Herons. My pond was decimated by a hungry Heron last year, and if you have a pond, you do not want these near your fish.



I see more and more foxes in my area and often see them in my garden or through my neighbour’s bins. Foxes will enter your garden to search for food, and any food left out overnight will be scavenged.

It is best to keep any dustbins closed so they can’t get into them, as I often see bin bags strewn over several gardens following a fox raid.

Foxes are opportunistic for food, so make sure to clear up any food from under the bird table as they will feed on this.

Feeding birds may also bring in squirrels to your garden. Squirrels love peanuts and most shop-bought bird food and stop at nothing to get to it. There are many videos of squirrels doing endless acrobatics to get to a bird feeder. Some bird feeders are said to be squirrel-proof. However, there is always a squirrel that will try to prove that wrong.

However, most do work, and a squirrel-proof feeder can greatly deter them from stealing the food you put out for the birds. However, squirrels can be very entertaining, and I often watch them for hours. If you have a large enough garden, you can set up a squirrel-proof feeder at one end and at the other end a bird-proof feeder for the squirrel to feed on.

Unfortunately, squirrels do feed on bird eggs, so in the breeding season, nests in your garden may likely get emptied by squirrels.

I live pretty close to the river, so I see rats in my garden. Although you may not see them in your garden, it doesn’t mean they are not there. As with foxes, make sure that you clean up any food, including food dropped from the bird feeder, and keep the garden as clean and tidy as possible.

Birds need a fresh supply of water.  Find out how to attract birds to your garden here


Cats are mammals, but I think they need a section of their own in this article. Cats are the biggest killers of birds and will often bring them into their homes for their owners.

With fences, trees and bushes in many gardens, cats can pounce on birds from their hiding spots. Putting a bell on a cat’s collar is one of the biggest deterrents as it acts as a warning signal to any birds nearby.

It is thought that cats kill billions of birds worldwide annually, which is horrific. With more and more cats being kept as pets every year, they can hugely affect the number of birds. Cats often like to play with their food, and the suffering they put birds through is horrible.

Cats live for many years as they are cared for properly, allowing them to kill more birds throughout their lives. Cats generally prey on adult birds which can affect long-term populations, whereas natural predators will feed on eggs or chicks. However, cats also kill rats and mice, which are harmful to birds.

It is essential to keep any bird tables, feeders, or water baths out of the reach of cats, so try to put them away from fences where cats can jump onto them. If you notice that cats are getting on to them, it may be best to move them.

Do you know how to attract nesting birds to your garden?  Find out here

Cat on bird nest

Bird Predators

There are many birds that you may not want in your garden, and many people try to keep away some of our current birds, such as magpies and jays.

Many people do not like magpies coming into their garden as they believe they take the eggs and chicks of other birds. While magpies do this, they only take the surplus of each seasons young, and this has no long-term effect on the other species.

The rise of magpie populations happened as new farming methods were introduced and food became harder to find for songbirds. As food became harder to find, songbird populations decreased, and at the same time, fewer magpies were being shot by gamekeepers. This made it look like magpies were causing the decline of songbirds, but this isn’t the case.

To look after nesting birds in your garden and be safe from magpies and jays, it is good to plant shrubs and bushes in which they can nest. It is also good to place mesh wiring around any nestboxes to keep any larger birds out.

I watched the hundreds of sparrows in my bushes the other day when suddenly silence fell, and they all disappeared deep in the bush or flew off. The only time I remember this happening before was during a total eclipse.

Less than thirty seconds later, a Sparrowhawk dropped out of the sky, killed a sparrow and took it away. It was one of the most amazing and upsetting things I have ever seen. Although it was shocking, being a natural predator, I knew the sparrowhawk had finished the job as quickly as possible without much pain to its prey, which cats don’t do.

Herons have been the bane of my life this last year, and I have no more fish in my pond. Herons love to feed on fish and will do so whether it is from a river, lake, or backyard pond.

There are several ways to keep herons away from your pond, and I will be trying all these methods soon.

Because herons will defend their feeding territory, a life-size heron model around the pond should be enough to deter them. I am worried, however, that this may attract a mate and bring another heron near my pond.

My pond isn’t designed very well to stop herons feeding from it. Steeper banks will deter herons from feeding from your pond, and planting bushes and trees around the pond will also help. Herons don’t like floating vegetation as they cannot see the fish, so it may be worth introducing some.

Birds have some excellent ways of catching fish.  Find out more here

Windows and doors

Thousands of birds are killed in collisions with doors and windows every year. Birds either don’t see the glass or think they can fly through it because they can see another window behind.

Birds can see themselves in the reflection, which may also cause them to attack their reflection. This will not hurt them as much as flying into the window.

To protect birds against collisions, it is best to fix something against the inside of the glass. Once the bird knows the object is solid, they wont fly into it.


Insects are a valuable source of food for many birds but can also damage any plants you are growing. You need to balance the pests in your garden and the number of birds. Without birds coming into your garden, the number of pests will increase.

Some pests such as caterpillars, snails, slugs, and aphids are easy to spot because of their damage to plants. It is best to deal with any pests without damaging the environment, so natural pest control methods are best.

In order to stop unwanted pests, keep your garden tidy. Make sure that you sweep up any leaves as this will stop slugs and snails from hiding among the piles. In order to keep the plants as healthy as possible, make sure you keep them fed and watered. This allows them to resist predation from many garden pests.

Amphibians, especially around spring, are excellent at keeping snail and slug populations down, so if you have a pond, make sure there is a way for the frog or toad to get down to the water.

Birds can do this for you to keep the number of pests down. Many feed on snails, slugs, and caterpillars, and encouraging a wide range of birds, including Thrushes, Robins, and Tits, into your garden will keep these numbers down.

Ladybirds are excellent at keeping aphid numbers down, which will keep your plants healthier.

If you need pesticides, then try to use an organic pesticide as these are less harmful to birds and other natural predators. If at all possible, don’t use any.

How do birds keep their nests clean?  Find out here