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Bird death - suggestions

Hi all - new poster here 

I have been putting bird feed out for the last year or so and today had my first bird mirder, so seeking some advice on what I can do to prevent this again.

For context, I have a small patio/astro turf garden with various potted plants. The garden is about 5 X 5 metres with the house on one side, two side walls and then a a back wall with shoulder high trellice and a garden gate to one side. I used to have a bird feeder in a corner of the trellice, surrounded by a couple of potted plants. I only had the odd pigeon eating from it, so recently moved it to the middle of the trellice (surrounded by a few pot plants), in sight of all sparrow nests in my next door neighbours roof tiles. Since then, the sparrows have been feeding regularly from the feeders since about March. Today I came home to find a eaten sparrow (only a beak and feathers as evidence) in the centre of my garden. I have a feeling the bird was attacked whist on the ground, feeding off scraps that's had fallen down onto the floor. I think if it had been attacked.on the feeder, the pot plants would have been knocked down, but I could be wrong on this. So l, I'm unsure if the moving of feeder could of had an affect, or its just coincefence it recently moved. I should we very rarely see cats in the garden, but sometimes a cat sneaks in under the gate for a snoop around.

I'm a bit gutted about it to be honest, so thinking how I can prevent it happening again. So, any suggestions on location of bird feeder, some good deterrents, trying to block the bottom of the gate, or anything else that can be done to keep this down to one bird death!


  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,462
    Hi fpeppett and welcome to the forum. Predators often work out where birds are feeding and will attack. I have a sparrowhawk that visits my garden, terrifying the little birds. She has learned where my feeders are and has killed two birds so far this season. I filmed her pulling all the feathers out of her second kill whilst she was perched on the fence. I suspect it is just a coincidence in your case but its probably best not to have the feeder too close to the fence/trellis.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,176
    edited May 2019
    Hello, you don’t say where you live, but from the size and description of your garden I am thinking it’s an urban area.

    If so, I would be quite surprised if a kestrel, say, were to come down into such an enclosed space. Also, birds of prey tend to take their catch into a tree and pluck it there, leaving a lot of feathers blowing around in a large area but not usually leaving body parts.

    A cat may have come into the garden, under the gate, and caught an unsuspecting sparrow, but cats either play with the bird and leave it uneaten or eat the whole thing. (That’s what our cats do anyway.)

    The most likely thing, I think, is that a rat was attracted to the food on the ground and got lucky with a little side dish of sparrow.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,314
    Another possibility is the bird flew into a window and either knocked itself stupid or even actually died and a scavenger - rat is very probable - found it and ate it.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    I'm afraid it's nature's way.  If some birds didn't get predated, and most of them do, we'd be overrun with them and then they'd be dying of hunger.  I believe the RSPB view is that the benefit to birds of feeding them far outweighs the risk of predation.
  • fpeppettfpeppett Posts: 4
    edited May 2019
    Sorry, yes I'm in an urban area. This is what I found odd - a bunch of feathers and a bloody beak. It didn't seem massively in line with what I've seen cats usually do.

    Thanks for the responses. I felt really guilty it happened on my patch so to speak. I've moved the bird feeder to a less cat reachable zone, and hope I get no more bird deaths!
  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 4,623
    In my urban garden we had a sparrow hawk come twice a year to catch small birds. ( this would suggest a male as females go for larger birds like pigeons) It would swoop in and frighten the birds into flight catching one on the wing. And yes it would take it to the ground pluck some feathers eat most of it but leave beak, legs etc. In this garden we have a female who takes pigeon and plucks it in front of us, leaving us to clear up the mess of leftovers. A bit gory but natural, you can't do anything to prevent it. 
  • matt_fendermatt_fender Posts: 169
    I'd second sparrowhawk. They've made kills in my garden before and I've watched them eat their prey on the lawn. I've never seen a cat actually eat a bird it killed although I dare say it does happen.
  • fpeppettfpeppett Posts: 4
    Thanks. We have LOTS of seagulls in our area. We even had a super aggressive nesting pair in the garden next door last year. A possibility perhaps?
  • BrexiteerBrexiteer Birmingham Posts: 955
    Sparrowhawk 99%
  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 4,623
    Seagulls eat their prey bird whole so no leftovers @fpeppett. What a discussion. 😁
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