Help stop your cat hunting birds

Spring is prime hunting season for cats and, while the squeamish among us may not like it, you cannot escape the fact that some cats love to hunt.

The RSPB says it is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, but here they offer some recommended precautions that you can take to protect the birds in your garden:

Put a bell on your cat's collar. This can reduce predation of birds by more than 40 per cent. The collar must be correctly fitted and should have a quick release mechanism for safety. 

Keep your cat indoors when birds are most vulnerable — at least an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise — especially between March and July when baby birds may be out of the nest waiting to be fed. Also, after bad weather to allow birds to come out and feed. 

Place bird feeders high off the ground but away from surfaces where cats could jump from, such as the top of a fence. The same goes for nesting boxes. 

Put spiny plants or an uncomfortable surface around the bottom of the bird table or feeder. 

You can use Vaseline on the poles of bird tables and some feeders to keep cats and squirrels at bay. 

For more information about protecting wildlife from cats, take a look at Your Cat magazine's Neighbourhood Cat Campaign.

Stop birds flying in to your windows

Unfortunately birds and windows don't mix well. The most common problems are when birds collide with windows, attack them or even try to eat the putty around them. Windows have caused many injuries and in a lot of cases death among the birds that fly into them. 

Make your window pane more obvious — fix an object to the outside of glass which will indicate to the bird than an object is present. You can put images up, cut random shapes such as stars, moons (or whatever you prefer) from coloured, self-adhesive plastic or other hardwearing materials. Birds will find the silhouette of a hawk intimidating so they are most likely to fly away from this. A lot of pet shops and garden centres will have these already made. 

Another option is to fit vertical blinds — it might not be the cheapest way to prevent birds flying into your windows, but it dramatically reduces the chances of it happening as the window is no longer transparent and therefore 'invisible' to the bird. There are certain blinds you can angle so that you can still see outside.