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Having read the post and subsequent threads –

As much as I am all for permaculture, respectful of natural ecosystem management and wanting to live in harmony with the birds –

The issue with blackbirds and the like actively destroying my hard work has become truly diabolical for me.  Mulch or no, these little sods will persistently dig even established fruiting plants (peppers, tomatoes etc) right at the base.  I absolutely cannot plant anything from seed, ever – which is a problem for things like carrots which don’t grow well if transplanted from seed trays.  The mess is one thing, but I am now sick and tired of finding established plants repeatedly attacked at their base. 

It’s not a great solution to surround every single plant with rocks to block the birds from digging.

Unless I surround the plant with rocks entirely at a distance covering the entire root structure, these creatures will dig right underneath the rocks to get to the root system (and yes, it’s birds, not rats. I have observed them at their work). Problematically, vegetables don’t like having the soil surrounding them to be 100% covered with rocks.  Especially when the weather is very hot.   Weedmat is only partially successful – the birds have learned to dig under that as well. 

Literally anything I mulch is always savaged.  Savaged.  Dug up brutally.  Not just a mess, but holes around half a fist deep peppered through the area.  I’ve never seen anything like it until it started happening 12 months ago, when I did most of the transformation of the back yard I came to own.

The only thing that prevents the daily destruction is to cut up sufficient layers of bird wire and firmly lay it over every single square inch of mulched soil, wherever there are plants, wherever there are seeds germinating.  The problem with this is that *I can’t leave that bird wire there forever* !!  Once the plants start to grow, the wire eventually gets in the way of that growth.  Whatever area is left around the plant uncovered, I guarantee, it is dug up.

Ever tried to grow carrots with bird wire over the soil?  Once they are getting established, it's impossible to remove the wire without destroying plants - and there's no way to leave them exposed without the birds digging them all up the next day.

I am loathe to build wire cages around everything because then I may as well pack in the entire landscape design of the yard.  I don’t want to look out to a landscape of wire boxes.  It’s also simply impractical.  It’s a bit hard to do your daily pinch / tie / cut etc of the tommies if you have to lift off a wire cage and then rebuild it every single time you go in there.

Honestly, whilst I understand the natural order of things and value the insect pest-control role that birds play (although I see little evidence of their interest in pest bugs in my garden) – I have grown to absolutely loathe these creatures.  I have a regularly filled birdbath and god knows they have plenty of tomatoes to feast upon – no problem – they are welcome to half my crop – but still they remain primarily interested in digging up my plants at the root base and decimating every square inch of mulched garden they can access.  They have started coming right up to the back door and digging up my potted plants – this whilst there is an entire back yard of goodies to choose from.  It drives me completely insane.

Shiny things, things that move in the wind – the birds are smarter than that.

Hence I am seeking whatever new ways of managing this problem that I can find. 

Last edited: 12 January 2018 03:19:07

Dovefromabove

Are we discussing the Eurasian common blackbird Turdis merula here, or one of the many other species of black birds found in the USA?

I'd be surprised if there are more than a very few of the former in any garden in the growing season as they are very territorial.

I also think that you may be contributing to the problem by covering the soil ... thus providing the invertebrates with damp, cool and shady places to hide and the blackbirds know just where to find them .

Mark56

They might make a bit of a mess but I'll take it in return for them eating all the garden pests like slugs. If they are indeed the same blackbird species, Send them my way! 

Dovefromabove
Mark56 says:

They might make a bit of a mess but I'll take it in return for them eating all the garden pests like slugs. 

 Hear! hear!  Mark ... we have lots at the moment and they're welcome here 

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Obelixx

Build a walk-in fruit cage.  As long as you get a decent timber or metal structure in place and cover it with taut mesh and a secure doorway with no gaps this will keep birds off your vegetable plot and fruit bushes and, designed well, can be a decorative addition to the garden.  

I'm in Victoria, Australia...

"contributing to the problem by covering the soil"

(I did also explain that if I don't cover the base of my plants with something, the birds will dig relentlessly into the root base, eventually killing the plant)

It's a damned if I do and damned if I don't situation.  If I don't mulch, especially in summer time when the average temperature can go above 30 degrees celsius for weeks at a time, then I am being extremely wasteful of water and the plants will really suffer with their open surrounding soil drying out in a matter of hours.  Mulching is essential for most of my vegetables out here. 

Heck, who doesn't mulch?  It's pretty essential for lots of plants when you live somewhere warm.

If I do mulch, the birds destroy everything.

I did explain why cages are not an option for me, so I won't comment on that - but thanks for the suggestion.  Unfortunately it's just not something that will work for me.  I don't want to look out to seven wire boxes out there.  

There doesn't appear to me much that can be done aside from covering the ground with bird wire.  Forever.  And dealing with the frustration of having to gradually remove it / cut it as the plants grow. 

....and slugs, schmugs.  My blackbirds do not give a toss about them.  I am forever removing them myself by hand.  They do love my worms, though.   

Last edited: 12 January 2018 22:31:48

Obelixx

Re cages - they can be very ornamental.  Have a google for images and ideas.

Dovefromabove
Obelixx says:

Re cages - they can be very ornamental.  Have a google for images and ideas.

See original post

 Obelixx is talking about proper 'walk in' fruit cages as used in the beautiful gardens of many a stately home in the UK.  You don't have to remove them to see to your tomatoes ... you simply open the door and walk in. 

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=fruit+cage+design&rlz=1C1PRFC_enGB734GB735&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjPvLXK6tTYAhVqKsAKHVmgCY8Q_AUICygC&biw=1093&bih=530#imgrc=s24-csjSz0GLjM: 

Last edited: 13 January 2018 11:27:58

Thanks.

In an ideal world in which I had the time and money to spend on building such a thing - great.

Sadly, I work 40 hours a week and have my work cut out as it is maintaining the house and garden, and the list of work to be done such as rainwater tank installation, weatherboard maintenance etc is quite long.

Ultimately though, I simply do not want to enclose my garden like this.  I want to be able to freely walk through, explore and interact with it without wire walls, so to speak.  

There simply isn't a safe or sustainable way to prevent blackbirds (Myna birds, I think) from routinely destroying anything I plant - that doesn't involve the application of bird mesh to the ground.  It's a great nuisance when new things are becoming seedlings - removing wire without destroying the plant etc as things grow - but there's just no other way.  I have to suck it up, basically!  

Dovefromabove

Mynah birds ... ah well, not a problem we have here ... sometimes the hardest part of gardening is learning to live with what we've got :-/

Wayside

Initially I thought, blackbirds - seriously?  I've some badgers that when they last surfaced from their torpor: made a bee-line for my nicely mulched hedgerows, and dug!  Just when I thought they'd got going.

The blackbirds here are quite shy.  I can't help but think they are smashing rocks together with one common noise they make.  They always fly away when I approach.  I have no idea what they are up to.

It is annoying when you feel there is a bit of a fight/battle going on.  I pretend to be relaxed - that's until another incident...

Last edited: 15 January 2018 12:04:11

Good ones are not cheap but you can get very realistic "kite hawks" A kite that looks like a bird of prey, they are fitted to a long extendable pole. The slightest breath of wind will lift it into the sky and scare off other birds. You need to find out what your birds are afraid of. Another option might be a sonic noise generator, the only snag with those is if you have young children around they  might be driven mad by it as they can hear in a much higher frequency than most adults. Either  worth a try if you you really don't want the cage option.

Perhaps just see what other people nearby are doing to manage the problem.

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