Mousetraps are a humane tool used with reluctance but out of necessity in my greenhouse, especially during winter and spring. A recent unintended ‘catch’ is a melancholy tribute to the determination of our wild birds when the going gets tough.
My lean-to greenhouse runs the full length of one side of my cottage. When I open the doors at each end, as well as getting freshening air blowing through, I also get a stream of wildlife. Some is welcome, some isn’t – mice and squirrels ignore ‘keep out’ signs. The one thing they all have in common is they’re looking for something to eat.
This great tit joined the influx of wildlife passing through and came off the worse for it: even though I thought I’d hidden the mousetrap well out of sight under my potting bench, this determined bird, unfortunately, found it. Robins show equal levels of resolve, especially if I let my feeders run low, and blue tits and wrens are masters of flitting into every nook and cranny after a stray peanut or sunflower heart. At least this great tit knew little about its demise; birds that get caught by a wing or leg inevitably suffer.
The lesson here, if you do have to resort to mousetraps to protect young seedlings, is to put them where inquisitive birds can’t see them or physically reach them. Never leave a set trap out in the open because birds have sharp eyesight. I now make sure any traps are hidden under flat pieces of stone or slate resting on bricks, but you could use pieces of upturned guttering at least 30cm (12in) long, with both ends part covered with stones or pieces of wood, leaving gaps big enough for mice but too small for even the diminutive wren.
If you have other ways of making mousetraps bird-friendly – other than not using them at all – you can leave a comment below. Why not go and check yours now?