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Protecting migratory birds

Birds sometimes fly into windows resulting in injury or death. To deter birds from windows, hang a silhouette of a raptor, strips of cloth or shiny mylar from the eaves to catch any breeze and create movement. Marking a window with strips of white tape can also break up the pattern of a reflected background of sky and vegetation, or of indoor plants that appear to be accessible. Placing feeders away from windows also reduces collisions with glass.

Research shows that free-roaming cats kill millions of birds and small animals each year in North America. Bells on a cat's collar have not proven effective in alerting birds to a feline's presence. Consider making your cat an indoor cat to protect birds and other wildlife - and to protect your cat from injury from cars, cat fights, disease and other hazards.

All native migratory birds are protected by federal law. It is illegal to injure, kill or possess a native bird or to interfere with an active nest. If birds build a nest in an inconvenient place or in a location where birds and young will not be safe, the nest can be moved only if no eggs or young are in the nest. Please do this only if necessary.

Barn Owl and Chicks
Barn Owl and Chicks
Oregon Fish and Wildlife

Hawks, owls, falcons and eagles

Hawks, owls, falcons and eagles, known as raptors, hunt in fields and woods for food. Some raptors hunt small mammals or snakes while others prefer to hunt small birds. Hawks and owls are beneficial in controlling rodent populations. Hawks are sometimes seen on the ground beside free-ways "mantling." Don't be alarmed. The bird is not injured, but is covering its prey with spread wings to prevent other birds from seeing and taking its prey.

Occasionally, a raptor may perch in a tree or in a fence near your home. Raptors are not a danger to you or your pets and will probably stay only for a short time. However, if a hawk or owl shows up in your yard and you would like it to leave, waving and shouting or banging pots together, will usually chase the bird away. It's important to remember that all birds of prey are protected by law, so if you have a problem with a raptor, contact ODFW for advice.


Water birds, including ducks, geese, and great blue herons spend most, but not all, of their time near water. Ducks sometimes nest in less than ideal places such as parking lots. If baby ducks fall into a storm drain, call the local public works department. Herons are sometimes seen preying on young ducks, which is upsetting to some people. This is part of the natural world, where some animals are predators and some are the prey. Consider it a rare chance to witness this natural drama.

Canadian Geese
Canada Geese
- Photo by Kathy Munsel -

Geese like open landscapes such as golf courses, lawns and ponds. They may feed heavily on lawn grasses and leave numerous droppings behind. Geese can be very aggressive when young goslings are present. In the short-term, waving, shouting and other loud noises will often cause the birds to leave temporarily. However, the best remedy is to change the landscape. Geese don't like tall grass, because they can't see predators well. Let vegetation grow taller and keep native vegetation along pond edges. Consider alternatives to short turf grasses. Plant trees and shrubs in the flight path between ponds and lawns. Keep backyard swimming pools covered to discourage geese and ducks from landing in them.

  • Geese and ducks are attracted to areas with open water and large expanses of grass, such as golf courses, parks, and large lawns. The problem is most noticeable during the winter months when large numbers of migrating geese and ducks join the year round residents.
  • Do not feed geese and ducks. Feeding can create a concentration problem and invites disease outbreaks.
  • Fence your yard. Eliminate or break-up some of the large expanses of lawn by planting shrubs and other visual barriers. A dog will also discourage ducks and geese from using your yard.
  • During fall and winter, noise making tactics may discourage these birds from staying on your property. Also, remove old nests during this time to stop geese and ducks from returning to the site in the spring.
  • Scarecrows and even plastic or ceramic dogs will often keep waterfowl away. These work best if moved around the yard every few days so that they are not always in the same place.

Herons, and sometimes osprey (a fish-eating hawk), are fond of fishing backyard ponds. To prevent them from reaching fish, place logs or branches in the water to provide cover for fish to hide. You can also screen the pond with lightweight mesh fabric or other materials. Herons may be seen far from the water. They sometimes hunt for field mice on grassy strips along highways or in fields.


Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-

Flickers and other woodpeckers are sometimes noisy neighbors when searching for insects under tree bark. They may set up shop on a new construction site and "hammer away" on the new wood, loudly announcing their territory or trying to attract a mate during breeding season. Territorial "drumming" on houses may be a breeding season behavior or could indicate an insect infestation underneath the siding that the homeowner should investigate. Because these birds are territorial, it is best to take action as soon as possible. Discourage them from using the site by hanging large strips of cloth, aluminum foil, or mylar around the location. Owl decoys may also be effective. Provide suet away from the pecking area as an alternative food source, but hang it out of the direct sun. In areas where bears may visit, be aware that bears like suet also. If woodpeckers damage continues, call for advice.

In Oregon, the common flicker is the most abundant woodpecker species. It can be found drumming on wood siding, eaves and shingles of homes. These birds are territorial in nature, and drumming marks their territories and attracts mates. Woodpeckers also drill holes for nesting and roosting. These birds are protected by law. There are a number of different techniques you can use to discourage their activities.

  • Hang a lightweight plastic mesh netting at least 3 inches from affected wood areas.
  • Nail plywood over the excavated area.
  • Hang aluminum foil strips, colored plastic streamers, hawk silhouettes or mirrors near the affected wood.
  • Provide an alternative drumming site. Nail two boards together at just one end (producing resonation) and hang on a secure surface.
  • Use noise making tactics, such as clapping your hands or banging garbage can lids together.
  • Spray the birds gently with water from a garden hose when they start to drill or drum.
  • Eliminate any ledges or cracks on which the woodpecker is able to stand while drumming.
  • If woodpeckers continue to be a problem, a special permit may be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to destroy the birds.

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