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How to keep catbird/mocking bird away?


Not certain which, (mockingbird photos look similar) but they attack cardinals which would nest here in the rhoderdendron outside our bay window. We would like to observe the cardinals nesting. What might we try that would discourage catbird/mockingbird from thinking they own the whole yard? lol


Someone gave me the idea to use a water gun. I would have to be quick on the draw as they whip through here like jets with a mission.

Other birds; sparrows, robins, etc are in the yard but the cardinals get chased off. Are cardinals an enemy? I have to learn.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

Interfering with nature is pointless at best, damaging at worst - best to just let them sort it out themselves and leave them alone.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Thanks for the common sense altagardener, could not agree more, I run outside to chase the squirrels off the hanging bird cakes I make, I hide them inside an upside down hanging basket, the squirrels sneak into the basket munching away, I run outside waving my hands, clapping or yelling, the postman has a good laugh, I'm in my PJ's the birds waiting patiently for the squirrels to finish eating flee out of trees, bushes ect like bat's out of hell because a mad woman has arrived to spoil the pecking order, and the squirrels have the best view of all, way up the top of the rose arch, the squirrels eat so much suet,nuts fruit ect that when they do try to escape, they are too fat to squeeze back out the basket, it's priceless, what a revenge.

Moral of the story, the birds still get fed, the squirrels return several times a day, the cat is way toooooooo lazy to chase both birds and squirrels so haloooooo lets get real, only us humans think we know better and try to interfere with nature at it's best, animals have their own pecking order and will not really take in our instructions of NO ENTRY, or such and such birds only, or butterflies or bunnies add my pet hate, deer, yes wrap the windows to scare them, Iv'e broken several double glazed windows so gave up. squirt them with a jet all you want, while your taking a rest, these creatures are back laughing at you, so IF you want only one kind of animal or bird, believe me, it aint gonna happen, they are happy to live side by side with others no problem, sometimes they need to live with each other for protection from worse to come, they soon sort out who's top dog so to speak.

Ask yourself, do you really want to move, or spoil your gardening time or not look out the window again all because the wrong kind of bird or animal has arrived or has lived quite happy long before you came along and objected to nature at it's best.

Be kind to yourself and try to enjoy what you have instead of trying to prevent / change the wildlife enjoying it's natural environment. ask yourself, what came first, the animals or the house builders.

Good luck, truly hope you can enjoy your gardening season, WeeNel.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

I have developed over the years a penchant for gardening with native plants, no turf grass and a philosophy that I want to live WITH my plants and animals and insects, as best I can instead of making them live (or die) with me. I do select things to plant that I like and if something runs amok, I herd it a little in a direction but I now find it more fascinating to "see what happens" more like a voyeur than an owner. If something I plant doesn't appear to thrive where I plant it, I just do a little more research and try another plant there that I like. I look at volunteer plants that some call weeds and ask myself, "How can I work this into my overall plan and have it work?" Some of the weeds in my garden are allowed a spring fling as a ground cover and then dispatched to the compost after they have provided beauty to a path during Spring. If I get too many volunteers of some seed producing plant, I just reduce their numbers by pulling down to a number that works for my garden plan. I may move plants from one area where there are too many and install them in another spot where more are needed. I may dig and donate them to someone or swap them for something different with someone who wants them. Im an easy-going personality overall and it extends to the way I tend my garden. I have lizards, anoles, geckos and skinks, ladybugs and aphids to feed them, butterflies and bees and earthworms and Japanese beetle grubs which I feed to the birds. I have too many pill bugs and snails but I just let them eat some things and herd them away from some things. Ive discovered that it's like a lot of other things in life, ie. what we need is balance. I try to live among it all without destroying the balance.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

I actually made the water gun suggestion...mocking birds are bullies....but they have their side of the yard and the cardinals have theirs. Plenty of room for all. Everybody feeds at the same spot and they work it out just fine...when it comes to eating, the doves are the pushiest...they will gang up on the occasional crow or BlueJay.

From a picture on another thread, Resort2me's yard looked plenty large enough to accommodate both Cardinals and Mockingbirds...hence the suggestion to "suggest to the mocking birds that they need to share" That is how I get them to nest out of the cats immediate reach.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Sounds a great way to live steadycam3, for some of us, it takes a while to adjust to the live and let live philosophy within reason ofcourse, who wants a man eating whatever as a visitor, ha, ha, ha, but I'd go along with your view for sure, I tried many, many years ago to be strict, remove all that crawled, climbed or chewed without finding out if they were friend or foe, guess what, my gardening became a task rather than an enjoyment, I'd forgotten everything my dad had lovingly tried to teach me, and my garden looked like someone else's property, so I went back to the old ways of outdoor living and never looked back, If gardening gets you so upset about some bird, some plant, some weed ect, I'd feel like I had a mental problem not a garden problem, Sometimes we just need to smell the Roses and forget the weeds Eh !!!!, or move to a condo ect with no garden, there you can find other things to get stressed about.

Have a great gardening season. WeeNel.

Worcester, MA

I can offer only a few observations that lead me to what I 'think' I know. Only one cardinal pair at a time (each season) visit my feeders. They rarely come together so it's a treat when they do. They live in the woods which are about a mile away. I think their preferred nest is in woodland, not urban/suburban. You have a nice yard, but if there's a woodland area nearby you'll likely not be able to induce them to nest in your yard. I have several seed feeders and suet feeders. Cardinals are the most skittish of all the backyard feeders. I've never seen cardinals at the feeders if there are any other birds on it. As long as the feeder is empty, they'll stop. They will eat the seed that falls to the deck alongside any other LGB's that happen to be there, but they will usually sit on the rails and wait for the crowd to thin - sometimes the male will go across the street and sit on the telephone wire to wait. As to the catbird: I have several that 'share' the suet with other visitors (woodpeckers and a load of sundry sparrows). I've never witnessed any birds being chased away (except by juncos - to me they're the bullies!) but I've seen arrivals and departures of different groups and types of birds that are incomprehensible to me.

Good luck.


My yard is large enough and it seems they all share well except for the catbird/mockingbird. Although comments are welcome, those inferring common sense be used, interfering with nature or
a live and let live philosophy is uncalled for. I was only asking for ideas which might allow us to more fully enjoy Cardinals nesting in our rhaphiolepis.

From the replies here, apparently I asked the wrong question: "What might we try that would discourage catbird/mockingbird from thinking they own the whole yard?"
It sounds to me like I'm to let nature be. Other than themoonhowl mentioning using a water gun, there were no recommendations to answer my question.

Let me ask instead; Are there any recommendations for encouraging Cardinals to nest in our shrubbery? They come into the rhaphiolepis (not rhododendron) bush, but get chased out almost immediately.

I have thoughts of erecting a 4' tall lattice screen on the yard side of the bush and planting roses to vine up it. My thinking, this may give the cardinals more privacy while causing the attacking bird to encounter a flight barrier.

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Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Despite what may be perceived, I am not a control everything sort of gardener...I just don't like rude....I don't let my cats kill birds and lizards and I do not allow aggressive, territorial mocking birds to chase away the other birds. I live in a semi rural area and my yard, just over an acre, is more than big enough for all to share.

Here is a link with info on attracting Northern Cardinals to your yard.

We do not have a problem attracting Southern cardinals....there are 4 or 5 pairs that hang out here and nest, along with a few travelers. Your idea of erecting a lattice with roses is right in line with the suggestions in the link. Cardinals prefer secluded nesting sights. We also don't have a problem with them hanging back from the food we put out. On any given day, we have wrens,purple finches, sparrows, chickadees, doves, cardinals, bluejays and even a crow or two....of them all, the doves are the pushiest. During Fall and Spring we have 3 different tanagers, bluebirds and some that aren't here longer than it takes to eat, so it is hard to ID them.

Thumbnail by themoonhowl Thumbnail by themoonhowl
Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Resort, sorry IF you have been hurt or found the answers to your questions unhelpful but, on reading ALL the answers, I think everyone was giving their own views on how to try either live with the problem of birds you don't want in your yard, and some informed how they managed the situation, I'd hate you to think no one was interested in your problem and what I myself was trying to say and agreeing with live and let live.
After gardening town, city and for the last 30 years country / rural, there is not a lot you can do when nature comes a-calling, you can spend a lot of time, energy, and cash trying to remove the offending animal /bird or whatever, but you can also leave nature and just work with it by things like you have suggested, setting up more protected areas, bird boxes /homes in out of the way place's.
Go to library and get some books on your local area birds, find out places where they choose to nest and how high up they like there nests, some birds don't care while others need more privacy, others require an opening no more than inch/half wide,
I am sorry if you feel anything other than friendly banter was written and hope you can solve the problem soon, here in UK the birds have already began nesting are are eating us out of house and home on the bird feeders.

Please don't give us your challenge, nature can be cruel, unwanted and hard work but, it can also bring so much joy where we least expect it.
Best regards, and good luck. WeeNel.

(Chris), IA(Zone 5a)

I was reading this with much interest as I LOVE mockingbirds and wish I could have taken mine from Oklahoma when I moved up here :) Ours were never bullies and we had at least 6 pairs of cardinals every summer feeding at my feeders. It makes me wonder if the mockingbirds are already nesting close enough to that bush to make them territorial with it.

I agree with WeeNel - I don't think anyone was "putting you down" for wanting to get a different bird to nest where you can watch, but just sharing their philosophy of living with wild nature.

You might talk to someone at your local Wild Birds Unlimited or similar store to see if there's a way to entice the mockingbirds to move further away from the bushes. Are they feeding near this area?

And yes, sometimes we do just have to learn to live with and enjoy what we have - and that's something that applies to every area of our lives :)

Good luck with your birds!

High Point, NC

It could simply be "that time of year" for the mockingbirds. Around here, the male robins are fighting and even swooping at us when we leave the house, and the mockingbirds are singing into the wee hours out of desire (and since one of them sits in the tree outside our bedroom it can be very annoying).

Mockingbirds are protective over their eggs and territory. They sit on our fence and harangue the cats! Here's an idea, but I'm not sure it would work. Find the mockingbirds nest and hang a mirror somewhere close by. If the mockingbirds "see" other birds even closer than the cardinals, perhaps they'll become occupied with the intruder and leave the cardinals alone for awhile. I don't know it will work, but do know my car's finish has suffered greatly from mockingbirds "fighting" their reflections in the side mirrors. I wouldn't put the mirror too close as I wouldn't want the mockingbirds to abandon their nest or be "worn down to a frazzle."

This message was edited May 8, 2013 10:33 PM


Kind words, thanks.

I looked up suggested link and found my bush might need more privacy ... not readily in view of mockingbird eyes.

My rhaphiolepis bush is on the opposite side of my house from where the attackers have a nest, in the yard of the neighbor next door.

I'll be working on making this nesting site less transparent to eyes perched on tree tops in my yard.

The mirror suggestion made me think of placing our old TV screen close to the neighbors mockingbird nest, but put active Cardinals on it as a screen saver.
Now, how to weatherproof that project? There would need to be window glass in front of the screen for protection.
Just kidding, mind you.

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Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

I got this image of you walking out to find a clutter of cats watching TV and demanding popcorn....GRIN

I do think providing a more secluded, protected area for the cardinals will draw them in. Fingers crossed for your success.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Like themoonhowl, I too had a wee laugh as I imagined a big cat-dog fight over the TV channel Changer.... Big Grin ha, ha, ha.

You do however have to remember NOT to spoil the neighbours wildlife theme or you could end up with even more unwanted creatures you never wanted, Jeeeeees, why is something that appears so simple full of drawback's, and gardening has meant to be fun LOL.
Best regards and good luck, WeeNel.


I find some challenges as fun. I'm apparently not alone.

Yeah, I'm sure my neighbor wouldn't appreciate me entertaining the mockingbirds.

btw, I'm not against their songs, just wish they wouldn't harass cardinals in our bush.

I looked at several trellises and such while at Lowe's today. Pretty pricey for what might accomplish the privacy desired. Even a lattice and a couple posts would run $45. I suppose though, that's not to bad a price for ring-side seating.

Worcester, MA

Resort, I wonder if a 'barrier' of full hanging pots would do the trick for less money. I have a tall double shepherd's hook and a shorter double hook that I use to hide an ugly cellar door. I use the tall one in back, a shorter one in front of that and then a shorter, free-standing single pot holder in front of those. I re-use old hanging pots and fill them with plants that I dig out of my beds. Sometimes I treat myself to geraniums. When all the pots are filled in and blooming, they really do a great job of hiding that door.

As to the mockingbird's calls, if I could just find him, I'd offer cash if he would just go live somewhere else! Every night - all night - he happily sings while I lie wide awake. 12 different songs and counting... :>)

Good luck

Kensington, NY

Dave, your story reminds me of a time I was a at camp retreat when my city mouse
sweetheart paused to listen to a bird. Unheard of!
He walked carefully toward the sound and I went with him,
because, as it happened, we were in the middle of an intense
conversation and he had asked me to " hold that thought" while he
id' the bird. I was not about to let him get distracted beyond a few minutes -
so I followed him.

The bird was a Mockingbird of course, and no wonder the "tune" he was
practicing was familiar to Mr. NYC Born and Raised;
it was the avian version - pitch perfect- of the warning sound of a medium to
large commercial van makes as it backs up.



Here are some ideas gleaned from web sites.

To keep from obscuring the view of the yard from within the house, the 'barrier' need not be more than 5' tall. It could be 8' long.
Any mirror of course would require cleaning care.

I like the 'barrier' of full hanging pots concept. I know there's a couple unused shepherd rods in the gardens.

Thumbnail by RESORT2ME Thumbnail by RESORT2ME Thumbnail by RESORT2ME Thumbnail by RESORT2ME
Worcester, MA

Heather - too funny! These birds have serious skills, but I wish they'd get their days/nights straight!

resort, I've been looking for pictures of the hanging baskets, thought they were on a memory stick but nope. I wanted to show you how I configured the hooks. I stuck the footers in the ground, in a N-S-E-W fashion so the pots were more 'bunched' together. One year I planted trailers - vinca and petunia and filled in with spiky dracaena and the door just disappeared!

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I like the TV idea!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Me too, Like Pfg I love the TV idea, BUT ! I think you should get the bird seating / perching area organised too, like the larger birds to the back etc, cant have the little un's straining to see over the big guy's, Oh and you walking around with little containers of birds seed would obviously keep the chirping and singing to a minimum, jeeeeees I'm on a different channel here all together ha, ha, ha.

I love the hanging baskets also, what a great excuse to offer the husband as to why you just had to go get more plants for the garden, what can any decent guy say to that eh !!!!.
Seriously though, good luck, just try and learn as gardening is like that, were all learning as we go.

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