Bad Birds About

(image : Randen Pederson)

Rarely will you see a more beautiful bird, and rarely will you see a greater nuisance. These gluttons come en masse, sometimes a dozen, sometimes a hundred. They are the songbird equivalent of the locust, able to reduce a berry patch to nothing in no time at all. We have had luck here in Walden, I believe, because we left a good deal of wild fruit to be. They will, for instance, eat their preferred wild red elderberry instead of attacking the strawberry beds. Though we could have pulled out the elders and planted yet another domestic crop, we left well enough alone and it had some positive consequences. It is also a reminder how complicated are the dynamics of a landscape and how one should be careful when they go blundering about with their disruptions.

Some selections we have planted to distract birds are red berried elder, chokecherry, purple flowering raspberry, native raspberry, aronia, and others. Although these and many others we harvest for ourselves (with the exception of the red elder), they produce excess. Another point to keep in mind is that a crop species can be planted as an addition to be consumed by wildlife. For example we plant a lot of extra grapes and bush fruits in our landscape so that local animal populations will be satisfied, leaving the balance for our consumption and sales.

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