Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bird Feeder

Happy St Patrick's Day! My dad sent me a little badge with a living piece of shamrock which I'll be wearing all day. Afterwards I'll pot it up and encourage it to grow in a pot on my kitchen windowsill. It'll make me think of my dad in Co. Limerick whenever I look at it.

My sister, Steph, showed me how to make these bird feeders. You make holes in monkey nuts then thread string through. The blue tits in particular like to hang on them and peck holes in the shells to extract the nuts. I thought the grey squirrels would probably just steal the whole thing and run off with it, but oddly I haven't seen them bother with it at all. If you use natural string (rather than nylon or something) then when it is empty you can just fling the whole thing on the compost heap.

Feeding birds encourages biodiversity in the garden. If you tempt them in for a lunch of peanuts, they might decide to finish off with a dessert of caterpillars and slugs. Site your birdfeeder carefully because bird droppings will accumulate underneath it. These add fertility over time but may be too strong for some plants (and are unwelcome on e.g. lettuce). It occurs to me that if you had a layer of some sort of mulch under the birdfeeder you could change it once in a while and put the mulch plus droppings on your compost heap. Or you could fix the feeder directly above the heap and collect the frtility directly. But to tell the truth I don't feed the birds because it's good permaculture practice. I just feed the birds because I love watching them.

11 comments:

Bill of Ballaugh said...

Sweet Nature's blessings on all your readers on this La Fhéile Páraig. May God hold you all in his hand but never squeeze too tight.

Linz said...

I have to admit, the one thing I'm not planning around is providing for birds in my garden. Because I know full well that would mean providing for cats in my garden and it seems a little unfair...

Hedgewizard said...

I have some sympathy with that view Linz, but you should read this;

http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/unwantedvisitors/cats/Copy_of_index.asp

More important than bird feeders (which benefit only a minority of species) is the need to increase the available habitat in the garden. That means, quote simply, more trees and shrubs.

Lesley said...

As I watched my peanut feeder in the hedge the other morning, I realised that the little creature nibbling the contents was not a bird but a mouse.

My dog has recently started sniffing the bird table too so I think that too is inviting four legged 'birds'

Yellow said...

I'm delighted to say I now have a regular blue tit that feeds on my peanut feeder. I also found a dead/hibernating wasp under a dead leaf, so I left him there (after I'd checked in case he was a German wasp- but he wasn't)
For Mothers Day I'm off for an afternoon of bird watching at Washinton Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. Happy Mothers Day to everyone (thanks to my Americal calender I get to celebrate Mothers Day twice)

Yellow said...

Hedgewizard- I only mentioned German wasps because I'd spotted the wasp the other day, then was reading about wildlife gardens, and they gave illustrations of the common types of wasp. German wasps have a large diamond shaped spot near their abdomen, and the lower markings are like part-diamonds. British wasps' markings are triangular on the whole. So, armed with this info, I went back out to inspect my wasp. It was a British one. Now you know.

Stonehead said...

Who needs feeders?

Our brassicas already attract pigeons in droves, freshly planted onion sets entertain the crows and rooks for hours, and the blackbirds feast on our berry crops when they can find a gap in the netting.

The sparrows are always looking for ways to get into the chicken runs and a flock of them quickly gather around the pigs when they're fed.

Our no herbicide and no weeding unless absolutely necessary means there are plenty of weeds that set to see all around the boundaries of the croft, attracting all sorts of birds who come for either the seed or the numerous bugs to be found around the plants.

The bulk of this birdlife is very welcome, but the pigeons are a real problem. In two days a flock can strip enough brassicas to feed us for weeks - and most of the pecked leaf matter is simply dropped on the ground.

So, the quid pro quo is that if the pigeons eat our brassicas, then we eat the pigeons!

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