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Gary350
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Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I have not sprayed my garden for bugs in 35 years. I put 25 bird houses around the garden area and back yard the birds eat all the bugs. I put several bird bath type containers of water in the garden so birds can drink water and not peck holes in my tomatoes to get a drink.

Wrens eat their body weight in bugs every day. You can attract a lot of Wrens if the houses are build the correct way and mounted the correct way and height. Birds like the house hanging from a wire over a tree limb rather than screwed ridged to the side of a tree or pole. Houses need to be 8 to 10 feet off the ground with the door facing east. Bottom of the house is made from 1x4 lumber cut in square that measure 3.5" x 3.5" square. Cut the corners off 3/4" so the floor has 4 air vents in the corner of the room. The door should be 7/8" x 3" wide 4" up from the floor measured on the inside. The left and right side wall should be cut 1/4" too short this makes another air vent under the eves of the roof. The point of the roof needs to be cut off 3/4" to make 2 more air vents. The roof needs to hang over the front and back 3/4" for a rain guard. The perch is a 1/2" diameter tree limb glued into a 1/2" hole 1" below the door.

The 3" wide entrance hole makes it easier for the birds to build a nest. It also allows 3 tiny hungry babies to look out to see when Mom is arriving with their next dinner.

Video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8wjCGQhhRI

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shadylane
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Nice gary...do your wrens stay all year? I only have them seasonal, but the sparrows have a welcome stay here. It has took them a while but have recognized Japanese beetles as a food source.

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gixxerific
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Gotta love 'em. I have a few bird houses and a feeder that is always full year round. Not too mention 2 humongous willows that can house hundreds of birds no problem. Oh and the neighbors pond is a their water source.

Been watching the robins steal my worms all day long since my yard is near flood stage and the worms are coming forth. I am going to have to some fat robins this year. :lol:

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

It depends on the birds. I have doves and sparrows that will eat slugs but it is usually after I catch them slice them in half an set them aside. Birds will go after geckos. The cattle egrets do come by after I weed whack the grass and hunt for bugs.

However, bulbuls, mejiros and rice birds prefer to eat orchid flowers, ripe papaya, rice, chili peppers, and tomatoes (especially the red ones). The birds have also discovered sunflowers thanks to bird seed sold with sunflower seed in them.
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TheWaterbug
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

imafan26 wrote:It depends on the birds.
Absolutely. The feral peafowl rampant in my neighborhood are the bane of my gardening existence:

Image

They've destroyed pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, arugula, broccoli, and cauliflower, and this year they're trying to get at my corn.

The only veggies they leave alone are the onions, garlic, and leeks.
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applestar
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Robins' nest in the honeysuckle on the wll trellis against the house -- eggs have hatched and I can hear the first tentative cheeps.

Chickadees in a birdhouse on the fence -- so far managing to stave off the house wren trying to wrest the house away, though I did find a speckled eggshell on the ground several feet away (but may not be theirs). A pair of cowbirds were hoping to get in and do their dastardy baby switching act, but I put a metal opening limiter on that house so only chickadees and wrens can get in. Chickadees come back to roost in the evening twilight and scold me if I'm still hanging around that part of the garden.

Mourning doves' nest on the arbor trellis over the garden gate -- every time I open or dose the gate, I glance at the nest and those startled beady black eyes are always looking at me over the edge of the rickety nest (mourning dove are terrible architects)....

House Sparrows in a birdhouse with loose base on the hawthorn. They stuff so much junk in the box that the tilting bottom is pushed open, but they manage to cram the box enough that nothing falls out. One year, something got at their box and pulled everything out -- astounding mound of trash -- candy wrappers, pieces of plastic bags, haystrings, bits of floating row covers.....

Titmouses in an old chickadee birdhouse on the plum tree. This house is lashed to the tree and I can't clean it out -- somewhat low like 4 feet above ground. It's been home to wrens, chickadees, ants, .... The opening has been chewed up by squirrels. This year, a pir of titmouses decided to move in. They "modified" the opening some more. Close to my compost piles. This pair also checked out the newer box on the swing set fort. I think it didn't like the metal opening limiter -- probably a wee bit too tight for them. I looked in there but it was empty. Maybe house wren will move in when they're here.

Pole mounted bluebird house by the family room window. Carolina Wren was looking at it. It was used by Carolina wrens last year.

Old beat up decorative bird house near the apple tree. There is no way to clean this house but it has little twigs sticking out, so it was climbed by wren at least.

New wren house on the outside of the fence -- sticks sticking out

Wren house on the golden locust by the mailbox -- it was one of a pair of houses we first put up years ago. The tree has swallowed the plastic coated wire that was used to "hang" the box and it can't be taken down. Never been cleaned, but house wrens nest in it every year.

Last year, there were also house finch nests and robins nests in other trees and shrubs.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Lovely applestar.

Yes, there are birds and then there are birds. The ones applestar was talking about are very beneficial in the garden. Most birds, even seed eaters, do eat insects at certain times (e.g. for feeding their young).

Many of us do not have to deal with birds like peafowl, bulbuls and rice birds!

I have a couple bird houses and several bird feeders (black oil sunflowers, thistle seed, dry mealworms, some suet in winter) in a couple different locations. We always have birds nesting in the huge old lilac, often it is robins.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I forgot to mention that I heard chirping in the wall. Some birds, I don't know which kind had broken through the attic eave vents and were nesting in the attic. I had to to change all the screen vents to metal vents.
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hendi_alex
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

We have many birds of many species in our yard. I'm sure that they are very helpful in the fight against the pests, but we still have to stay constantly vigilant against the pests. The snail out produce any of our efforts. There are the flea beetles that surface about twice per growing season. There are the constant aphid outbreaks, thank goodness that they are picky as to what they eat! We have been beetles, squash bugs, leaf footed bugs that attack the tomatoes. It is fun to see those areas where a tomato worm has hit a tomato plant, but the worm is nowhere to be found. Bet a bird got that one! Lastly there are those voracious Japanese beetles, who really like to each our egg plant leaves, but they like many other plants as well.

That said, most of the pests are manageable and are kept under control via hand picking, as long as we stay ahead of them in the early stages of infestation. The aphids are not nearly as bad, if we can keep the ants out of the garden area.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Try growing some grapevine, even wild grape, in your garden. The Japanese beetles prefer it over anything else, especially when it is flowering. So it makes a great trap crop for them. At one point I was capturing JB's off the wild grape vine (grows as a weed around here) and killing them. I finally decided why bother killing them (which I kind of hated to do, they are part of Nature too, and are really beautiful, like living jewels), as long as they were only hanging out on the weed grape vine. Worked just fine.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I grow a wild, naturalized flower garden area. We have noticed that the Japanese Beetles love the zinnias and are always on them, mostly to the exclusion of other plants. Interesting thing is that there is never any obvious damage on the zinnias. My guess is that they are feeding on the nectar or pollen.

We also have lots of native grape vines growing in the woods at the edge of the yard. Perhaps they have been drawing the pest away as we'll.
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jal_ut
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

We encourage the birds in our area too. This is a winter pic, but we feed the birds year round and always have water available.

Image

Yes, there are times when the birds do compete with us for garden stuff, but
overall I think it is worth what they take for the beauty and joy their presence and songs bring. Yes, I do suppose they eat lots of insects too. The birds are welcome here.

Alas, can't seem to get any wrens. I have houses up. They used to come when we lived by the river, but they don't seem to like the present territory.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Does anyone have issues with birds eating their fruit? I have talked about putting up some bird nests but they would be located near grapes, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and strawberries. Also some apples, peaches and pears. I would hate to attract them to a house located near this fruit just to have them eat it all and then me want to evict them.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

TheWaterbug wrote:Absolutely. The feral peafowl rampant in my neighborhood are the bane of my gardening existence.
I was considering that perhaps I'd been a bit harsh on the peafowl, and maybe they're not as pea-brained stupid as I'd thought. Then yesterday I saw this:

Image

Is that what I think it is? Yup:

Image

She laid it on a dirt path, where we walk every day, right outside our window.

They're as stupid as they are destructive.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I love watching birds. I have a bird feeder on my back porch and I can watch them from my kitchen sink window. The only problem is I have noticed that they are picking and choosing what they want to eat. They are making a mess all over my back porch. I usually have Mockingbirds, robins, mourning doves, bluejays and cardinals that stop by. Does anyone have suggestions of what I can put in the bird feeder that these birds will especially like? Right now it is just a bag I am buying at Wal-Mart.

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Gary350
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

SOB wrote:Does anyone have issues with birds eating their fruit? I have talked about putting up some bird nests but they would be located near grapes, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and strawberries. Also some apples, peaches and pears. I would hate to attract them to a house located near this fruit just to have them eat it all and then me want to evict them.
Birds get thirsty just like people fruit and vegetables are a good source of water. I put containers of water 5 feet apart all through the garden. Birds are lazy just like people, if a container of water is closer and easier than a tomatoe the bird will fly to the water to get a drink.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

LGT wrote:I love watching birds. I have a bird feeder on my back porch and I can watch them from my kitchen sink window. The only problem is I have noticed that they are picking and choosing what they want to eat. They are making a mess all over my back porch. I usually have Mockingbirds, robins, mourning doves, bluejays and cardinals that stop by. Does anyone have suggestions of what I can put in the bird feeder that these birds will especially like? Right now it is just a bag I am buying at Wal-Mart.
Birds like sun flower seeds. Black sun flower seeds are very common and very cheap in large 20 lbs bags about $7 per bag at Farmers Co-op stores. Doves are ground feeders they will not land on a bird feeder.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I only use Black Oil Sunflower seeds, Striped sunflower seeds, Safflower seeds (cardinals), and Black Niger seeds (finches). Mourning doves like grain seeds but they're just as happy pecking around in the lawn. Mockingbirds will eat from a feeder if there re dried berries in them but not often. Robins typically won't eat at the feeder, I think, regardless of what you put in it. They are everywhere in the garden looking for worms.

My feeder visitors are mostly cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, titmouses, downy and red bellied woodpeckers, bluejays, house finches, goldfinches, as well a the not so welcome house sparrows, grackles, and squirrels. Seasonal visitors include redpolls and pine siskins.

When I have the energy to keep up with changing the nectar, I also put out one or more hummingbird feeder.

Other birds that don't like the feeder so much also visit my garden for insects, berries, etc. Kinglets in early spring and late fall, Juncos in winter, catbirds in the summer, flickers, bluebirds, warblers, etc.
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applestar
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

SOB -- what kind of birdhouses did you put up (hole sizes?)
Unless you've put up a robins nest shelf, I can't think of any birdhouse using birds that would go after your fruits. Maybe bluebirds? But I haven't been able to attract bluebirds here in my suburban garden. They are rare visitors when my mulberry tree is in full fruit.

My main berry and cherry thieves are Catbirds and Robins. Mockingbirds and Cardinals occasionally.
I'm more worried/bothered by squirrels and chipmunks with larger fruits.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Gary350 wrote:Birds get thirsty just like people fruit and vegetables are a good source of water. I put containers of water 5 feet apart all through the garden. Birds are lazy just like people, if a container of water is closer and easier than a tomatoe the bird will fly to the water to get a drink.
I knew birds would occasionally go after a tomato of mine during a drought but I thought some birds just liked eating fruit for the taste/nutrition - not just to get some water during a dry spell.
Gary350 wrote:Doves are ground feeders they will not land on a bird feeder.
I've had people tell me this before but doves have always come to my bird feeders and land of them. They don't do it too often and they look real awkward and unbalanced but I have seen it many times. That's at two different houses and two different types of feeders. It's real fun to watch them try to stay on the little base of the tall finch/wren feeder.
applestar wrote:SOB -- what kind of birdhouses did you put up (hole sizes?)
Unless you've put up a robins nest shelf, I can't think of any birdhouse using birds that would go after your fruits. Maybe bluebirds? But I haven't been able to attract bluebirds here in my suburban garden. They are rare visitors when my mulberry tree is in full fruit.

My main berry and cherry thieves are Catbirds and Robins. Mockingbirds and Cardinals occasionally.
I'm more worried/bothered by squirrels and chipmunks with larger fruits.
I didnt put up any yet as I didnt want to have to compete for the fruit. I need to do some more research as to the types of houses like my area (more open, not too many trees, but not too many houses and large woods nearby) but I was thinking maybe bluebirds and something else. Do oriels(sp?) come around Ohio?

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applestar
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I think mourning doves like the millet, milo, and cracked corn which are typical filler seeds in inexpensive wild birdseed mixes.

If you put out sunflower, safflower, and peanuts you'll attract woodpeckers, chickadees, titmouses, and nuthatches that probably live in the woods. They take one seed, fly off to varying degrees of cover to eat, then come back for the next one. But Blue Jays will come and fill up their throat pouches -- I once saw one unable to swallow the last one it was so greedy. :lol: They seem to travel in flocks -- maybe adult pair with fledged babies? -- one time there were SEVEN of them all stuffing themselves silly. I had to refill the feeder after they left. :roll:

They are/are more in the premium birdseed mixes in the birdseed aisles, but like Gary said, are more reasonably priced at the feed store. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds are referred to as "BOSS" and people feed them to horses. I get them in brown paper bags tied with a piece of rope. :D
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Thanks everyone. I will definitely try sunflower seeds and see how that goes. I know what I put out now has some sunflower seeds in it. I rarely see them thrown on the ground either. Something on a similar topic. This morning when I was watering my ferns, I saw a bird had built a nest in one of the ferns. There were no eggs yet. I water the ferns almost everyday. Should I attempt to move the nest or just leave it alone? If left alone I know the baby birds will get soaked almost everyday. I know that the mama bird probably won't come back to the nest if I move it though. Just wondering if the nest will hurt the ferns. I definitely don't want to hurt the fern but I don't want the mama bird to have to start over building her nest.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Well I like birds alot, doves, robins, sparrows, finches, ducks-yes even ducks. For years we have at least one duck nesting near our pond in the front yard....I have several feeders around and scatter wheat here and there...but then there is...the quail :evil: they to like to eat anything growing in my garden. They scratch around in the soft dirt disturbing newly planted seed, take dust baths everywhere, eat seedling of any kind i.e. except onions. As soon as I plant or transplant out comes the floating row cover or bird netting. When the plants get a little larger they usually won't bother them....only lettuce and spinach. All things considered, the enjoyment from watch those furry creatures outweighs the work protecting the crop. :)

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

With the house dangling like that does it spin? Doesn't that freak the wrens out?

valley
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

waterbug, Maybe she is offering the egg as payment for the squash?

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Gary350
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

applestar wrote: I haven't been able to attract bluebirds here in my suburban garden. They are rare visitors when my mulberry tree is in full fruit.
Blue Birds are hard to attract. The bird house has to be built a special way with a certain size hole a certain distance up from the floor of the house. House has to be a certain distance from the ground mounted on a post with brush area to the back of the bird house and a large clearing to the front of the bird house. After birds live in the house 1 year no birds will ever live it again. I always had to build a new bird house ever year to attract more blue birds. Blue birds don't like noise, people, dogs, cats, cars, etc. You pretty much need to avoid the bird house until the birds move in. Once birds move in try not to bother them much or they will leave and abandon the baby birds.

This link is probably one of the best places for information about blue bird houses.
https://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Bluebird-House

I can not remember where to find the rest of the information you need, maybe the Audubon society. Blue bird house should be 6 feet from the ground, on a post, with a hinged roof, facing a large clearing or mowed yard with not trees, with 5 foot tall brush behind the house. From what I have read the perfect place for a Blue bird house would be facing a Golf course with a large field of brush behind the bird house.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I did a project on the Eastern Bluebird back in college. At that time ran across nesting box plans from Lawrence Zeleny. Have had boxes of that design ever since. My experience is at odds with the comment about multiple use. My blue birds have been returning to my yard and re-using the same box for well over 20 years. In a typical summer the birds will raise two or three broods. Some years a single male will tend two or three females which nest in our several boxes that are within a few hundred feet of one another.

I made one major adjustment to the Zeleny design. The old nests must be cleaned out after nesting, so it makes sense to construct the box for easy access to the inside. I solved the problem by placing two screws at the top left and right of the box face and placing a third screw on the bottom of the face. By backing out the bottom screw, the face will then swing up to allow for easy clean out. The front can also be opened to allow for observation of the young developing birds. We have two sets of young so far this spring, a clutch of 5 in one house and three in the other. Black capped chickadees used a third box, but the young have already left the nest.

Here is a link to both the original and the modified nest box from Zeleny. Zeleny was the one who started the blue bird movement back in the 1960's and 1970's.

https://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/nestbox/nabs.htm#Zeleny

In looking at these plans, I see that I've modified the box construction quite a bit, but have kept the dimensions the same. Actually my front panel is inset rather than over lapping the sides. So my works just like the side panel in drawing two from the link.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I found that birds eat what they know to eat. Some birds are used to being fed bread and they they eat bread, hot dog buns, and pizza but turn away from bird seed.

The doves used to eat the dog food, and if the dog wasn't hungry or in a mood to chase them he'd let them.

I did keep a feeder for awhile. It attracted mostly finches, rice birds, and sparrows. The doves would post themselves as sentries. When I would come out to fill the feeder, they would call the small birds. As the birds fed, they would knock seed to the ground and the doves picked up seed that fell onto the grass. Most of the finches were pets that people released. Budgies don't survive long, but society birds thrive.

I used to be able to grow sunflowers and the birds left it alone. Now, because of the sunflower seeds in the bird mix, the cardinals will come and pick at the sunflower seed heads. My friend who has parrots said that the birds like sunflower seeds, but too much makes the birds more aggressive so they limit it.

Right now the bulbuls are eating my green tomatoes. They don't go after the cherries too much, but they do like to go after the bigger tomatoes.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I like some birds and feed the Stellar Jays but the starlings at the Nevada spread come in great flocks eating grain, seed and plants while nesting in anything that will stand still, don't like them around.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

These are above my front door (nowhere near my garden), and I have no idea the species, but it's still sorta on-topic, so here you go:

Image

They're quite a bit bluer than they appear in the photo because it's dim under the eaves.

Any guesses as to the species?
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Might be robin eggs.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

I feed a lot of black oil sunflower seeds. And this year, i have sudden incursions of sunflower babies cropping up everywhere! lol
not that i mind the volunteer plants in the slightest....
and i do love watching the birds at the feeders.

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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Yeah, I always have sunflower volunteers from the bird seed, but they aren't aggressive, so I just leave them.

I also have a stand of I think broom corn - looks just like corn except has seed tassels instead of ears. Gets very tall. I believe it came from a birdseed mix also. It comes back every year now and I have to keep digging lots of it out to keep it from taking over the flower bed it is in. But I figure it is probably as good as grass clippings for the compost pile.
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

TheWaterbug wrote:Image
Any guesses as to the species?
Here are Mom and Dad:

Image

If it's any clue, they're both helping out with the feeding. Yes, they've hatched :) Here's an AVI of Dad feeding the babies. I'm assuming it's Dad because of the orange on his head.

edit: National Geographic says House Finch:

Image
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Great shot and good detective work :D

House finches are regulars around here as well and they typically nest in a shrub or tree in my garden, but this couple must have found this nook to their liking. I posted recently about a neighbor who had them nesting in a plastic hanging basket. So they're not very shy. They are backyard feeder birds.
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LGT
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Thanks for the update. I was wondering how the little guys were doing. I had a nest in a hanging basket on my front porch but I waited and waited for the mama bird to return to lay her eggs. Never did. I am hoping that she found a better nesting spot and didn't die. I have a soft spot for wild birds since when I was little we would take over caring for them if the nests ended up abandoned. Looks like mama and daddy birds are doing an excellent job taking care of babies. I would just keep a far away look out to make sure they keep taking care of them and something doesn't happen to the parents so you have to step in.

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TheWaterbug
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

Wow! Here's a guy with way better equipment (and skills) than I have. He has some Nat-Geo-quality photos and video of "his" house finches, who made a nest on the wreath on his front door.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

valley
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

If the birds would just eat the squirrels.

Wow, That was an elaborate set up, They got some great event by event flicks.

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TheWaterbug
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

They're all growed up and gone away! My house finches fledged yesterday morning. There was one last photo/video of 5 kids in the nest, and then in the next shot they were gone. I have empty nest syndrome, in a very literal sense:
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Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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applestar
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Re: Birds are the Gardeners best Friend.

While I was looking out of the window, I saw a bright red male cardinal -- always a welcome backyard visitor -- swoop in and land on the arbor trellis. I've seen him around the strawberries (and I don't mind sharing) but I didn't think there were any ripe ones where he was looking, so I grabbed my bird watching binoculars to see what he was up to.

He hopped down to a tomato support stake, then down to the ground and traipsed over to the Red Russian kale growing under the tomato. Staring intently up at the bottom of the leaves, he snatched off a green cabbageworm! :D
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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