Thursday, 27 April 2017

Blackbirds - do you love them or hate them?

In general I'd say I'm a lover of Nature, but there are certain times when certain aspects of Nature are a PITA. Right now, my gripe is with Blackbirds.

Singing sweetly late on a Summer's evening, the Blackbird can be a charming creature, but most of the time these birds seem to be arguing vociferously with their neighbours / rivals, or (more likely) destroying my little plants! To be fair, they don't deliberately set out to destroy my plants; they just do so as a consequence of their endless scratching around in the compost, looking for insects to eat.

Their favourite places to carry out these searches seem to be the edges of my raised beds, and lots of my seedlings have become casualties as a result. This is the main reason why I have invested a fair bit of cash in netting and mechanisms for supporting it, so that I can make structures like this:

This most recently-erected structure is now protecting my Salads bed, currently hosting lettuces, radishes and beetroot - all at the small, vulnerable seedling stage.

In the next-door bed I have my Broad Beans, one row of which are supported by 5-foot bamboo canes, making it impractical to use a net. As a low-level deterrent to the Blackbirds I have lain some stout pieces of scrap wood along the edges of the bed. Whether as a result my Radishes will survive is a moot point.

I had a similar row of Radishes along the other side of this bed, next to the first row of BBs, and about 50% of them have been lost to Blackbird damage (although I think squirrels are partly to blame too).

Since I've mentioned Broad Beans, I want to finish today with a photo of some Broad Bean flowers.

These ones appear to have long mascara'd lashes.


  1. I had that problem with Sparrows. They had a thing for Spinach, would eat them the moment the first leaves showed. I had to resort to netting too. Blackbirds probably cause more damage though. But I still love both birds, so try to accommodate them!

  2. Your garden is looking good! Lovely bean flowers, and a great portrait of the blackbird! I don't have problems with birds here. The worst pests I have in my garden are moles and voles (and various insects, of course).
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea in the USA

  3. Interesting. For some reason the birds I think of as black birds are black but then I don't really know all our birds. We don't usually have a problem with birds bothering the garden. I have had them peck holes in my tomatoes and plums so usually I have to pick the tomatoes just as they start to turn red. I don't know which birds do this though because I have never caught one. I think most of the time they just need moisture as our summers are so hot and dry.

  4. Love AND hate them. The pond behind my house attracts redwing blackbirds, actually the cattails bring them in. Beautiful bird, wonderful call, intelligent, bold. When I walk out to the garden one will follow me, perching in the nearest tree and giving me grief. Last year they made sport of pecking the apples, knocking them to the ground.

  5. Other than the typical eating of berries and cherries (which I net or, in the case of cherries, try to), birds don't seem to do that much damage in the garden. I am not a fan, however, of one particular type of blackbird - the grackle. They pretty much dominate the birdfeeders, not letting any of the other birds partake and spilling more than half of the seed in the process. I've had to implement measures that keep them at bay such as using safflower seed (which they don't like) or weight sensitive feeders that close the feed doors for heavier birds.

  6. Whatever I need to do to protect against blackbirds, I can't dislike them after all they like to eat slugs, snails and other nasty beasties,


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