Birds have both good and bad reputations when they are around vegetable gardens. Both positive and negative aspects exist regarding the relationship of vegetable gardens and birds. If you want birds, there are ways to attract the right kind. If you don’t want birds, there are time-proven (and newer) methods to keep them out of the vegetable garden. If you are aware of the type of birds in your area, you can better understand the measures you must take to create a balance between the birds and your garden.
The benefits of birds to vegetable gardens are many. Certain birds eat insects, worms, aphids, caterpillars, grubs and slugs which can destroy roots and leaves on garden vegetation. Larger birds, such as crows, eat mice from the garden.
Birds such as crows can also cause problems for vegetable gardens because they eat the seeds. Birds can also eat berries from bushes as they ripen.
Depending on your view and the birds in your area, the effects of birds on your vegetable garden can be positive and negative. Aphids and hornworms can cause damage to roots and bring disease. Birds such as hummingbirds and blackbirds can eliminate that problem. Hummingbirds are also good for spreading pollen and seeds from point to point. Crows, without proper deterrents, will eat corn, cherry tomatoes, vine vegetables or sunflowers.
If you wish to attract birds to your vegetable garden, provide areas for nesting, feeding, bathing and gathering. Garden ponds or bird baths placed in the center of the garden will attract many birds.
To keep birds out of the garden there are various new and old methods to choose from. Bird netting can be placed over rows, wrapped around trees or bushes or set up as a canopy over the entire garden on posts. Scarecrows are an old method which has mixed results if you do not move them around frequently. Hanging shiny objects such as old pie tins, wind chimes or CDs on string along the garden rows will scare birds
Types of Birds
Blackbirds look for insects by digging away the top layer of soil; these birds also like berries. Bluebirds will eat grasshoppers which can destroy leaves. Robins eat the grubs, winged insects and caterpillars. Sparrows will eat seeds if not planted properly, but will also eat insects. Starlings can be beneficial in small numbers; unfortunately, they congregate in large groups and can cause noise and devastation in unprotected areas. Hummingbirds eat the fruit flies and gnats as well as the aphids from leaves. Wrens will clear a vegetable garden of most insects to feed their large families.
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