How can we humanely deter our feathered friends from eating our crops?
Background: Keeping birds out of the garden
While many birds are responsible for positive farm and garden outcomes -- such as reducing harmful insect pressure, controlling for weeds, and pollinating -- they can also cause damage to crops and prey on beneficial insects. Thus, it is important to observe bird behavior and identify the types of birds that inhabit the garden or farm area. If birds are seen carrying away worms or feeding on vegetables and fruits, it may be time to consider ways to deter them from entering your growing system. Of course, birds are part of the surrounding ecosystem (unless they are invasive, which may be the case in many instances) and should not be targeted with drastic use of force. Instead, there are a few simple tricks that can be used to distract, confuse, or scare them away from the garden.
Students will be able to...
Use old CDs and wind chimes to deter birds from a food growing area
deter /dəˈtər/ verb. - discourage or prevent
1. Gather your materials. You will need the following supplies:
old/discarded CDs and/or wind chimes · string
2. Watch the following YouTube video to see a demonstration of how to keep birds out of the garden. Then, follow along with the remainder of the lesson by reading the steps below.
🐦Good or bad? … From an ecological perspective, there is no single, clear answer to whether or not birds are beneficial or harmful to agricultural systems. Oftentimes, the function of a particular bird depends on landscape features in the surrounding environment (i.e. if there is enough food outside of the growing system) and how the growing space itself is managed (i.e how many and what types of things are being grown, and how does this influence other biological populations). For instance, birds may spread seed, but they may also consume it; they may pollinate flowers, but they may also damage fruits. These offsetting effects are difficult to measure, so the gardener or farmer must stay alert for bird activity in order to make important management decisions.
3. First, it is important to observe destructive behavior from birds, or identify a type of bird that is known for causing damage. If you’d like to know more, consider this guide.
4. Cut a small length of string (1 - 2 feet), and tie it through the center of a CD -- knot it tightly. Repeat this for as many CDs as you intend to use. The light that reflects off of the CD will confuse birds entering your garden or farm.
5. Find a place to hang the CDs in the growing space. An area that has been inundated with birds previously, or an area that you know will attract birds, will be a good starting point. A tree, fence, shed, or other object will suffice to hang the CDs. Tie the loose end of the string around this object, making sure to expose the CD to as much light as possible.
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