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The Coopers Hawk — A Common Enemy of Backyard Birds

Protection From Birds of Prey Such As Hawks

As you know, my favorite kind of bird feeder is what is called the tray feeder. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to the tray bird feeder plans which include exposing our favorite little backyard friends to the birds of prey like hawks,which may be looking for a treat. Tray feeders also expose the food on the tray to the weather elements which can quickly ruin the food for the birds. And if that weren’t enough, because the tray feeder is totally exposed, squirrels and other pests can also dine on the food you put out for your birds.

Despite all of this, I still love using tray bird feeders because it is so much easier to enjoy the birds while they are feeding.  Sometimes in order to escape the weather as best I can, I will put a little lean-to type roof or a little roof on poles on my tray feeders.  Bear with me while I explain these things to you, because the fact is the simple things I use, and what I’m going to describe next, aren’t really the prettiest architecturally designed bird feeders you’ll ever see.  But they may keep your birds safe. My lean-to roof, for instance, is just a piece of plywood that I screwed to the corners of the tray. Now, I like to use the lean-to with wing nuts whenever I can, because I can take things apart easily when I need to thoroughly clean the bird feeder. Needless to say, it’s very pretty simple for me to put the roof back on using the wing nuts. This next little adaptation is one I think you will find quite interesting though.Squirrel Proofing and Protecting Your Backyard Friends Using Wire Fencing

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wire enamel coated fencing which has a grid 1 ½ in. square
  • Wire cutters
  • Work gloves
  • Scrap lumber which is 6 inches wide for bending your wire
  • A tray bird feeder made like a box with no top

Here’s what you do:

    1. Carefully measure the inside of your tray feeder.  Be precise.
    2. Go to the store and buy fencing in a size that will give you a piece that is at least 12 inches larger on each side than the measurements you took of the floor of your tray bird feeder. For instance, if the tray of your feeder floor was 18” x 24”, the amount of fencing you will need will be 30” x 36”. To save yourself extra work, and maybe your hands, ask the store clerk to cut the piece of fencing you purchase to your specifications. Most stores will do this for free, or for a very nominal charge.
    3. As pictured, take your wire cutters and cut so that you can fold 6 inches of wire at a right angle to your main piece of fencing. This 6 inches of wire around the entire tray will become the sides of your feeder. In fact, you may want to mark the center of your wire fencing with the exact measurements of the floor of the feed tray. A fine point indelible marker would make this job easy. You will make an identical 6 inch fold and cut on the opposite side of the wire as well. This will create two sides once folded and leave you with the other two sides having an overlap in length which will become the support in the corners of the tray.


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Step1—Making the Initial Cuts In the Wire

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Step 2 – Folding The Wire Fencing to Form Corners


  1. Now you are ready to make the folds in the wire fencing which will complete your project. While wearing your heavy duty
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    Finished Tray Feeder Top With Wire Protection

    gloves, carefully bend the wire to form a box shape while folding the excess wire at two ends around the signs you have already formed. To finish those corners, use your pliers to bend the wire in an exacting way. See the picture below.

  2. Using either twist ties, wire, or plastic ties, attaching your fold over from the longer side to the sides created which areshorter.  Do this for all four corners. You should now have a wire box which is a mirror image of the inside of the feeder tray. See the picture below next.
  3. The last and final step in this process is to press your wire cover into place on your tray feeder. It should fit snugly inside the tray against its sides. If you have used the size fencing recommended, the openings will be large enough for the smaller birds, but will prevent larger birds like Jays and starlings from getting to the food. This cover will also prevent squirrels from getting to the food as well.

On a final note, if your fencing is sturdy, it may just keep a hungry hawk away from one of your backyard friends too. Hope you enjoy this project . . . .   Rose

Filed under: Squirrel Proof Bird FeedersTray Bird Feeders