Birds in the veg garden - friend or foe?


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And I bet half the youngsters have no idea why.
I have four Beagles that do the same thing on our laminate floors. They've learned that if they 'pitter-patter' their feet a human will come and give them what they want. Its like Chinese water torture - 'pitta-patta, pitta-patta, pitta patta' ....pause....'pitta-patta, pitta-patta, pitta-patta'....pause....

We try to hold out and ignore it, but you can't. So inadvertently we've taught them to just keep doing it for long enough and the reward will arrive.
 
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To address the original question, it depends on the type of birds have. Obviously fruit eaters have to eat something else most of the year when there's no fruit around and tasty fruit must be nice change from whatever that something else is. So, I'm guessing bird feeders would not be a particularly practical solution unless you found some kind of cheap fruit in the store to bait them with. But then you might just be attracting more. Of course, putting feeders around, not in you veg garden would be a better location to make it easier for them and away from your fruit - if you do try it. Around her, you are legally required to spray for bugs if you have certain types of fruit, so no need for birds to do that for you and you can use physical means of protection or deterrents.

We hate starlings. Greedy birds and bullies that eat all the larger food in our feeders and toss out and waste the small stuff.... until the fields and orchards get going, then they disappear. They are really messy too, and nothing will eat them. Now we feed small seed mixes only that have very little of the bigger stuff and they don't bother with that. It's the only bird you are legally allowed to kill where we are, which should tell you something.

Magpies are not welcome in our area because the eat everything. They destroy other birds' nests and eat their eggs and young. They destroy fruit and other crops. The field men used to carry long poles to pull down their nests and farmers used to shoot them. They are much rarer these days, thank goodness, so the pheasant and quail are finally coming back from almost extinction around here. We had a flock of over 2 dozen quail in our back yard this year. They lots of eat bugs. We feed them a quail mix, but they apparently like lettuce too. However, the are not very tall, so they don't eat too much and they don't seem to perch to eat, just ground level. Very cool birds, fun to watch and fairly tame once they know you are not going to hurt them. They will come within 8 or 10 feet from us but we have not made any effort to lure them closer, we leave it up to them how comfortable they are around us.

Regarding tame birds, my mom used to have a blackbird that would come and tap on the kitchen window for food. She would open the back door and put it's favorite stuff (cheese, raisins and bacon rinds if I remember correctly) on the mat inside the door and it would come in and eat it or take it away to it's nest for it's young. If she left the door open, it would just tap on the window and wait on the doormat inside the door. If she wasn't in the kitchen, it would sit on the corner of the garage roof and peer in the window and wait till it saw her. It would also come when she called if she had been gone shopping or somewhere. It came back every year for a long time. In fact it would bring it's young ones with it when they were big enough and eventually when it died, one of them took over it's turf!
 
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Regarding tame birds, my mom used to have a blackbird that would come and tap on the kitchen window for food.
My mother would leave the backdoor open and the blackbird would come in and clear up all the crumbs from the kitchen floor.

One thing about feeding birds is that it interferes with the natural proportions of species, that means problems for some when you stop.
 

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