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Bird lovers: beware of cats and windows

This month, we will examine the hazards that can be dangerous to birds.The first one is cats. Possibly, the highest cause of mortality in birds, which is related to human influence, is feral (wild) cats. However, feral cats are not the only offenders; pets kill millions of birds every year. Declawing the cat doesn’t really help, as there are stories of declawed cats that were just as proficient at catching birds as fully clawed cats. Birds of every kind count as prey, including hummingbirds. What can be done to end this purposeless killing? It must be remembered that just about any small wild animal is preyed on by cats.Keep your cat inside. Just because your cat seems innocent and harmless inside is no indicator of how it will act outside. A cat’s hunting instincts may seem lost when it is indoors, but if your cat will chase a string across the floor, it will chase animals if it gets the chance. They are born hunters. Keep in mind that there are laws that can be used to deal with your pet if it is harassing, worrying or killing wildlife. This applies to dogs as well as cats.Do not allow your dog to chase wildlife, especially deer, elk and antelope, since not only is it stressful or fatal for the animal, it also is illegal. Observe leash laws. If your neighbor’s cat is bothering the birds in your yard, you may be able to report it to the Colorado Division of Wildlife; otherwise, just squirt the offender with a hose, and it probably won’t stick around long. You want to try talking to your neighbor before you start blasting his cats though.The second heaviest cause of death is windows. This is an even greater problem if your yard has trees and shrubs around it. The birds see the reflection of the outdoors on the windows and attempt to get to the place they think that they see, which inevitably means a collision with the window. A very large percentage of these collisions result in the death or injury of the bird. There are a few ways to avoid this.

  1. Apply soap liberally to the windows so that it becomes cloudy and non-reflective. This is probably the most unattractive and impractical method, and most other methods don’t sound much better.
  2. This is by far the most practical and easy solution (besides just not having windows). Go to a bird store, such as the Wild Bird Center on Woodmen next to Vitamin Cottage, and purchase some falcon silhouette decals to apply to the window. The birds recognize the silhouette and avoid the window.
Hopefully, these guidelines will be a benefit to both you and the birds.Happy birding.

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