Every year I feed birds during the winter. I believe this helps keep the population higher during the summer. High bird populations are good because they provide a sound track for the garden in the warmer months as well as being a vital part of an harmful insect reduction program. I feed both suet and black sunflower seeds which covers a greater variety of birds.

An additional benefit is that they are interesting to watch out the window on cold dreary winter days when most life is dormant.

In the past I have had two problems with feeding the sunflower seeds. One is the deer. They used to come up and eat any leftover seeds at night. Last winter there was a lot of snow so they started coming up during the day and a couple of them can wipe out a lot of seeds in a matter of minutes. I tried scaring them away, even chasing them for a ways back into the forest but I think they know I would never kill them so my attempts would all be futile and they would be back, often within the hour.

The other problem is cats. They would hide under the platform feeder and take the birds as prey. While this was also an issue with feral cats coming in, the main culprit is our own cat, James. He is quite the hunter and very useful in the rodent control on our property, routinely having multiple kill days.

In the winter when the snow is out, it becomes harder for him to catch rodents so he turns his attention to the bird feeder.  I would run out and throw things at him trying to condition him to avoid the feeder but, as anyone familiar with cats can verify, they aren’t very trainable and he constantly returned.

So this year I had an idea that is resolving both problems — I put up a fence around the feeder. It is absolutely effective for the deer and mostly effective for the cats.

The birds only go to the ground inside the fence to pick at seeds that fall off the bench.  I don’t think James has caught any, though he is a relentless hunter and very patient so not impossible if some unwary bird strays outside.

I thought the fencing might deter the birds but they either fly right through it or land on it and often hang out on it so it is fine for them, even the heavier less maneuverable mourning doves.

Note I extended the fence across the front yard. My initial reluctance to put it up was that it isn’t very pretty and mars the view a bit, but once it is there I extended it out with the hope it will catch snow in the yard that would have otherwise blown onto and accumulated in the driveway.  We have had a relatively dry winter so far so the premise hasn’t been tested yet but it is logical.  All the storms that have been getting the headlines have either gone North or South of us and we have been cold but relatively calm all winter so far.

“The face of the Lord is the embodiment of beauty. What they call beautiful nature is but His smile, and what they call the sweet songs of the birds are but specimens of the whispering voice of the Lord.”

Srimad Bhagvatam 1.11.26

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