Birds in the veg garden - friend or foe?


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I'm swithering over whether to put bird feeders in my veg garden.

On the one hand they eat my fruit, but on the other they eat bugs and slugs.

I've also read (don't know if it's true) that if you feed them they'll leave your fruit alone?

Thoughts?
 
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There are 4 types of birds. Those that eat seeds, those that eat insects/caterpillars/slugs, those that eat both and birds that eat meat/carrion. You won't have any meat/carrion eaters (hopefully) so that leaves 3 types. I don't know about in the UK but in Texas birds that eat seeds are the least destructive of the birds. Birds that eat insects, caterpillars, slugs are not as damaging but the birds that eat both insects and seeds are by far the most destructive. These are the birds that peck holes in tomatoes and squash and do other sorted damages, plus these birds rarely visit a bird feeder. IMO having bird feeders in close proximity to the garden doesn't really help in a garden and possibly is a little harmful. The insect-eating birds don't eat seeds; if you don't have insects eating your crop, neither will you have the birds that eat both seeds and insects, and if you do have these birds, having the feeders around just brings them into your garden. And not only this, but the birds eat just as many good bugs as they do bad ones, so is kind of a toss-up having them around or not.
 

Meadowlark

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All depends on the type. I have bluebird houses everywhere around the garden. Insect eaters. Friend.

Mockingbirds will occasionally ruin a tomato or two, but I just plant extra cause I love their song. Friend.

Crows and I are mortal enemies. Foe.

Cardinals eat a few grapes and insects. Revered mascot of favorite sports team. Frequent visitors at feeders. Honored friends.
 
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There are 4 types of birds.
Fifth type, pigeons that eat brassicas.
Bird feeders don't have to be limited to seeds, my robin loves a snack of mealworms. Almost any sort of leftovers go on there as well, cheese is popular. One thing, chop leftovers like crusts up or they try to carry it off and end up spreading it everywhere.
I figure the birds are around anyway. They can fly, tiny half ounce ones migrate thousands of miles, so having the bird table about won't make a lot of difference, if they want to come for your veg. they can easily. To me it makes a difference, I sit with my toast and marmalade and a cuppa every morning, and get great enjoyment from watching them.

PS One of my best buys, a large roll of chicken wire from a boot fair for £5 (It was a while ago), That's kept a few blackbirds off my fruit.
 
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The main bird I have a problem with is the Grackle. They love to strip the corn, not sure if its just the bugs or the seeds too.
 
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Good. That's what I wanted to hear!!

Some springs we have literally hundreds of starlings descend on us for a few days. It's like something out of Hitchcock's 'the birds'! The only damage they do is to pull up all the plant label tags, but they must munch through thousands of slugs and bugs. It must be something to do with their migration patterns.
 
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Meadowlark

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Just one of the reasons crows are FOE on Meadowlark Ranch.

Shot off my back deck...crow harassing American Bald Eagle who was eating fish from pond.

eaglecrow.JPG
 
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I mentioned earlier that we get huge flocks of starlings in the spring, but having Googled for pictures I think it's actually crows. They don't seem to do any harm - very noisy though.

I don't know much about birds (as the above illustrates!) but my local area is renowned for being great for bird watchers. I THINK I've seen woodpecker, pheasants, stork, birds of prey (or more often the feathers of their kill that they bring in our garden to eat).
We also get a lot of magpie - the young ones are VERY friendly - this one approached us when we out in our front garden and followed us about all day - when we went around the back he followed us. We ended up taking him to a local rescue centre as he was just TOO friendly to stay alive for long :

CR6_3173 by Paul Roberts, on Flickr

CR6_3230 by Paul Roberts, on Flickr
 
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Just one of the reasons crows are FOE on Meadowlark Ranch.

Shot off my back deck...crow harassing American Bald Eagle who was eating fish from pond.
But if you have chickens then crows are friends because they harass the red tail hawks.
 

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But if you have chickens then crows are friends because they harass the red tail hawks.

Crows could never be considered friends here. I'd rather have the hawks around.... even with chickens.
 
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Starlings do come in thousands, Google 'Murmuration', it's the word for a huge flock of starlings and there are some good videos. It looks as though there is meaning in the flock's movement but someone studied them with a drone and each bird is only checking out the movement of a few others around it. Starlings look black at a distance, but up close they have amazing colours, especially in sunlight, it's like oil on water.
We get jackdaws round here, every village has a flock it seems. They are great, they used to gather in the trees at the end of our last garden and they would take off and fly in a big circle, swooping and diving just for the fun of it. They have a sort of grey hood that makes them easily distinguished.
I see the occasional rook in the garden, but usually the jackdaws will gang up to see him off. Rooks are the ones you see following ploughs, a sharper, pointier bill than the jackdaw, and all black.
Lovely pictures of the magpie, they are very family oriented, a young one got hit by a car opposite our old house and the parents and siblings spent two days coming back to walk around the body.
 
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Just one of the reasons crows are FOE on Meadowlark Ranch.

Shot off my back deck...crow harassing American Bald Eagle who was eating fish from pond.

View attachment 93257
Great picture. We don't see eagles round here, but I saw a carrion crow sitting on a chimney pot get dived at by a jackdaw, smaller than him. He ducked and the jackdaw looped the loop and did it again, third time the crow gave up and flew off across the valley.
 
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Starlings do come in thousands, Google 'Murmuration', it's the word for a huge flock of starlings and there are some good videos. It looks as though there is meaning in the flock's movement but someone studied them with a drone and each bird is only checking out the movement of a few others around it. Starlings look black at a distance, but up close they have amazing colours, especially in sunlight, it's like oil on water.
We get jackdaws round here, every village has a flock it seems. They are great, they used to gather in the trees at the end of our last garden and they would take off and fly in a big circle, swooping and diving just for the fun of it. They have a sort of grey hood that makes them easily distinguished.
I see the occasional rook in the garden, but usually the jackdaws will gang up to see him off. Rooks are the ones you see following ploughs, a sharper, pointier bill than the jackdaw, and all black.
Lovely pictures of the magpie, they are very family oriented, a young one got hit by a car opposite our old house and the parents and siblings spent two days coming back to walk around the body.
I'll need to pay more attention next year!! I think someone told me they were starlings. They start out gathering in the fields behind our house making a terrible racket, then they descend on our street - they sit all over the roofs of the houses - hundreds of them. And feed on the insects in the front gardens. I think they only stay a few days.
 
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feed on the insects in the front gardens.
Starlings are really good on lawns, they dig out the crane fly larvae that live on the grass roots. That's 'Daddy long legs', or 'Olly long dads' as my daughter called them when she was little :)
 

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Great picture. We don't see eagles round here, but I saw a carrion crow sitting on a chimney pot get dived at by a jackdaw, smaller than him.

We've had a pair of eagles, presumably the same birds, return here every fall when the colder temps kill off the Tilapia in the ponds. Somehow those smart birds figured out that there was vulnerable fish to be had and they kept coming back every year about the same time.

Sometimes they would bring one offspring with them (the young birds do not have the "bald" markings of the mature eagles), but the offspring never came back that I know of. When the water temps hit about 55 deg. F the Tilapia get really sluggish and start dying. The eagles and the bass in the ponds have a great time dining on choice Tilapia.

The next cold front could easily bring in temps getting the water close to 55 deg. F and we will be looking for the eagles to return.
 
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Meadowlark

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Fish farm escapers?

No, I stock the Tilapia (Mozambic ) in my ponds for algae control, weed control, and bass food (completely legal in Texas). They do an incredible job...far superior to chemicals.

Plus, every fall I harvest as many as I can for the freezers.... excellent eating (better than restaurant quality) and great fun on flyrod. They are going to die anyway when temps fall so, I harvest as many as I can and let the bass and eagles have the rest.

Tilapia_10_22_2011 001.jpg
 

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Cardinals and Mockingbirds not common in Scotland.
Down here pigeons and sparrows eat brassicas and peas so very bad.
Thrushes, Tits, Robins and Blackbirds take insects and molluscs so good.
Get fruit cage for Christmas to keep birds off soft fruit.
Crows good they keep the seagulls off my roof.
Magpies I like (purely personal).
Buzzards and other predators good, especially if they take pigeons.
Pheasants now where did I put the casserole.
Seagulls nasty, noisy, messy and vicious.
 
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The worst damage birds do here is eating leaves, & it is my view that they do so for their succulence.

I'd be more inclined to make sure birds have plentiful supplies of fresh drinking water rather than feeders, because more food means a bigger population of birds.
I have seen magpies jump up & down on nets to get at brassica leaves.
 
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I like magpies to, but like Nigel says it is a personal thing, they are not very nice really. I hear the blackbirds screaming at them as they steal their babies. It's pigeons that eat my brassicas given the chance, but I have found I only need to chuck the odd bit of chicken wire about, not cover them completely. I think they have learned about traps and are wary.
 

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