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A Few Words On Birds

08/06/2012

Birds are amazing for gardens and if you have one you should be doing everything you can to attract them to yours.  First, there’s the whole eating insects thing – I don’t want to jinx myself, so I’ll word this carefully, but so far my problems in the garden, the major ones, have been caused by disease or neglect. Every day our birds are sampling delicacies from the garden and I don’t mind at all: if they want to eliminate the pests for me, I’ll let them. (I could actually get into how the whole garden is its own ecosystem with every living thing, including the soil, playing an important part but since I want to focus on birds, I’ll leave that for another time.) They’re especially visible in the big vegetable garden right now, since the plants are all still relatively small and there’s a lot more brown than green at the moment. There’s one spot where I planted onions that is still bare right now that is directly under the feeder that is probably an effect of having it so near but other than that (and a possible cucumber incident, see Musings On Overeagerness) they’ve not been a nuisance to the plants.

Another benefit: since I hang bird feeders near the gardens in order to attract them, I always have a ton of sunflowers popping up here and there – which is fantastic on several fronts. One: I don’t need to spend time planting the sunflowers myself. Sometimes they appear in less than ideal spots, but then I just pull or move them. Two: since I buy sunflower seed in order to attract birds, if enough of them appear on their own it saves me from buying as much seed. Three: I love sunflowers. So does the neighborhood. So the more, the better. Beneficial on all fronts.

Birds can also be pollinators, which is necessary for plant reproduction. They’re an indicator of health: if you have lots of birds, then you probably have a healthy garden ecosystem. And they’re fascinating to watch. Two summers ago when we first started feeding the birds we attracted a million sparrows and wrens. A cardinal couple came around once in a while but we mostly heard them rather than saw them. Last year a flock of red winged blackbirds started visiting and we saw the cardinals more, and more of them. Purple and yellow finches appeared, as well as black capped chickadees, who, like the cardinals, are year round residents. This spring, in addition to the now usual crew, we appear to have a new colony of mourning doves. The other day N spotted a small raptor, sleek and grey and black with sharp looking yellow talons (possibly a falcon?) in the backyard, hunting on the thick post we use to support the largest black raspberry bush that came with the yard. Last summer we saw a small owl.

I seem to have strayed a bit from the topic of birds and gardens, so that’s my cue to close. One last thing on the topic: I especially don’t mind their poop (although I’m careful not to get any on me) which I’m sure is good for the soil. Perhaps it mars an occasional leaf or flower, but the benefits far outweigh such a minor drawback.

Cardinal with Purple Finch & Black Raspberries, July 2011

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One Comment
  1. Mom permalink

    Great pictures of those birds! Yes, they are our outdoor pets so to speak. There is nothing like lying in bed on a sunny morning and listening to bird song. 🙂

    Like

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