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Bird Problems?

Question: What should I do with a baby bird that has been abandoned by its parents?

The following link has some excellent advice on what to do if you find an abandoned bird. Click on this link to read more, and be sure to come back!

Question: What can I do about a woodpecker that is drilling holes in the side of my house?

There are a number of reasons that a woodpecker will drill holes in the side of a house. Some of these are:

1. Making a nest cavity
2. Trying to get at ants, larvae or other insects that infest the wood siding.
3. Making a winter roosting cavity.
4. Drumming - making a loud noise to attract a mate and establish a territory.

There are a number of ways to discourage this behavior, depending on how much patience you have and how much you love birds. Whatever your course of action, keep in mind that most birds are protected by Federal and State laws.

1. Discourage the bird with a garden hose by shooting a jet of water at the bird, or by banging pots and pans together or by making some other sudden loud noises.
2. Tether helium filled balloons at the base of the wall with the balloons floating against the problem area. Be sure to avoid power lines!
3. Hang aluminum pie plates or aluminum strips from the eves across the problem area. Be sure to avoid power lines!
4. Screen off the problem area to exclude woodpecker access.

For further information, contact a local US Department of Agriculture Animal Damage Control office or Cooperative Extension Office for more information on these and other wildlife problems.

Question: What can I do about a bird (cardinal, Blue Jay, robin or some other species) that keeps hitting against my windows?

Birds can see their reflection in a window. During the breeding season, when the birds are most territorial, they view the reflection as another bird intruding on their territory, and try to chase it away. Most species do not recognize the reflection as their own self. Many species of birds engage in this activity. The best way to discourage this behavior is to place a non-reflective material in front of the window on the outside to prevent the reflection. This is only a temporary behavior that will cease when the breeding season in over.

Question: What can I do about house cats (strays or pets) that are killing birds around my feeders?

This is an interesting question, and as much as we love our pet cats, and in spite of our warm fuzzy feelings, cats are still one of the most efficient and persistent predator animals. Studies have estimated that pet cats alone kill nearly a BILLION wild birds each year in North America!!!! You may love your cat, but if you or your neighbor are hosting wild birds in your yard, you may have a different attitude toward that lovable bundle of purring fur.

There are a number of things you can do to protect your birds and other wildlife without resorting to harming the cat. Keep in mind it may be a stray, but it is also likely to be someone's beloved pet. Before you consider handling an unknown cat, recall that both wild and pet cats do carry a number of diseases that can be transmitted to man. 

Having said that, you can do the following:

1. Cats need a place to hide so they can watch and pounce on their prey. If possible, identify the favorite hiding places of the problem cat and screen it off or eliminate it entirely. Those that have taken this step report that they have virtually eliminated the feline problem. A cat cannot hunt successfully without cover from which to pounce, and they will seek better hunting grounds. Also, squirrels, jays, crows and other animals will sound the warning when a cat is seen, thus eliminating the element of surprise.

2. Some veterinarians suggest keeping a garden hose or powerful squirt gun handy, and if possible, giving the offending cat a good hosing down. Cats do not relish cold water, and once soaked, will judiciously avoid a second encounter with your hose. One reader said that they hosed the offending cat off the wooden fence surrounding yard, and it has not been in the yard since.

3. If you know the owner, and you can approach them in a good spirit, suggest that they control their pet to prevent wildlife fatalities. Some folks restrain their cats by tying them much as dog owners do, and this seems to work fine. Some folks will be glad to comply, but others will not. Only a psychologist knows why some folks allow their pets to kill and kill again. 

4. If things get desperate, consult your local authorities. There are likely local ordinances regarding stray or unrestrained animals. Determine their recommendations and follow them. Be sure to treat all animals with kindness and respect, and always stay well within the laws of your community.

Question: I found a pigeon with a band. Who should I report it to?

Many folks breed and race pigeons. These birds have private bands to identify them. To get an identification on the pigeon you found, try contacting a pigeon fancier's organization, or one of the organizations listed on the Racing Pigeon home page (

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