Monday, March 25, 2013

Bringing Native Songbirds to Your Garden

Is it a good idea to invite native songbirds to your garden?  

You bet it is!  While most songbirds will eat some of your sowed seeds and seedlings along with some overripe fruits and vegetables, they will also eat a lot of insects.  Also, if they stick around long enough, then whatever they eat, they leave behind a portion of it as fertilizer.  Overall, we think this is a fair trade, so we set bird feeders and bird baths around our garden to attract wildlife.  

Welcoming songbirds into the garden and allowing some areas of your garden to remain wild and weedy really expands the songbirds' natural habitat.  Instead of taking over their areas with our garden, we prefer to overlap our areas with their areas, and that's when we start to benefit from the symbiotic relationships.

To summarize, songbirds remove pests and stop pest cycles, and they naturally fertilize the garden - that's a sustainable way to use nature to your advantage.  And if you find that the songbirds are eating too much of your produce, then just cover that area with netting for a while.  

Finding ways to combine our love for wildlife management and gardening is, as Martha says, a good thing.

We use trail cams to monitor wild bird activity on our property.  These trail cams are automated digital video cameras specifically made for outdoors and used by hunters and bird watchers.  This little piece of equipment gives us a good idea of what songbirds are visiting.  It also gives us a peak at some of the migratory birds that we might not see otherwise.  Of course, not all wild songbirds will visit a feeder, so the birds caught on camera are not the only ones nearby.  They are just the only ones that like the seeds being offered.  Keep in mind, when songbirds have babies to feed, they prefer to hunt for insects, but will still stop by for a free lunch once in a while.

Here are some recent songbird videos.

This feeder is one of feeders right next to the veggie garden. Free lunch for birdies! 

How do others interact with the native wildlife?

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Marburger of Marburger Orchards, located between Kerrville and Fredericksburg, here in the Texas Hill Country. I asked him "how do you keep the wildlife from eating your produce?" He answered, "We can't keep them all out so we plant enough for them too".  Good advice indeed.

Check out this locally owned business to see what's ready for picking and eating.  Right now, big fat juicy strawberries are ready and the peach trees are blooming.  It is worth the trip just to see the lovely peach tree blooms.   

If you scroll to the bottom of  Marburger's web page, you will see a link to sign up for their email newsletter with updates on picking times.

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