birds--friend or foe?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by hisenthlay, Dec 29, 2005.

  1. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    I was thinking about putting out a bird feeder, but I've seen' conflicting reports on whether birds are good or bad for the garden.

    I know that birds ate a bunch of my blueberries last year and probably some of my seeds--seems like they don't need me to put out a feeder for them. On the other hand, I recently read that birds can be very useful in eating harmful insect pests, which makes sense.

    I'd like to have some pretty birds chirping around here, but I'm wondering if there are pros/cons/strategies that I haven't thought of.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Birds are a plus where bad insects are concerned. They are a pest when eating strawberries or pecking on tomatoes. The trick I think is to provide lots of other food for them (or plant many more blueberries) and or protect your crop with netting.

    I cover my seedlings with netting to protect them from birds and rabbits. But I'd rather have them to help keep the bad insects down.
     

  3. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    If you want to feed birds with seed, then I'd recommend straight sunflower without all the filler seed. Mixes will get you more starlings which are bad on fruits and vegetables. Sunflower seed will bring you more birds like chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches. Some birds like robins and bluebirds will go for fruit in addition to insects. Running water will draw alot of birds too, and may bring Baltimore Orioles. Crows love blueberries, and strawberries but also squirrels and chipmunks will eat them. You can cover the crops you want to keep with bird netting.
     
  4. suelandress

    suelandress Windy Island Acres Supporter

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    We have out 10 feeders this time of year....nuts and sunflower seeds, plus thistle for the finches. And a couple of suet feeders. In the summer, we do only sunflower seeds and thistle. The berries are covered with netting when the time comes near, but we also planted a mulberry just for the birds....just in case :) Insects are never a problem here! And the beautiful music every morning is worth it :happy:
     
  5. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    Thanks for the good advice--I knew you guys would have the answers. I'll start with sunflower seed then, and maybe some nuts. I wasn't going to mess with suet, becuse it's more $$ than I was planning on spending around here and I've always found suet to be a little gross anyway.

    Where do you get the thistle--is it your own, or do you buy it somewhere? I don't know much about these things.

    I'll try netting the berries this year, too. My strawberries did ok last year (except for a few random squirrel attacks), but something (I assume they were crows, but I'm no ornithologist) sure did a number on my blueberries--just about stripped my poor little bushes bare.

    Thanks!
     
  6. suelandress

    suelandress Windy Island Acres Supporter

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    I buy a 25 pound bag of thistle (its actually nyjer seed) at the feed store...usually one bag lasts the whole year. I put that in the finch feeders, but only the yellow finches seem to be attracted to it...the house and purple finches usually go for the sunflower seeds. The only birds i never see near any of the seeds are robins.....I guess they aren't seed eaters? The mourning doves (fancy pigeons) clean up the mess under the feeders...a very symbiotic relationship :D

    RE: Crows....I have never seen them in my garden except when the corn was sprouting. You may have a problem with grackles....also black, but smaller. PITA birds, useless in my book. If we get large flocks of them, we'll hold off on filling the feeders for a couple of weeks till they move on.
    The most wonderful musicians are the red winged and three colored blackbirds. Who'd have thought? They are terrific singers!!