There are many bird-be-gone products stocked in the garden center. You can find spikes to prevent roosting and nesting, netting for covering plants, and decoys to scare away unwanted feathered visitors. While it is true that birds can nibble fruits or dig up seeds before they sprout, birds can actually help your garden much more than they might hurt it. By understanding just how birds can make your garden better, you can take appropriate steps to welcome these garden assistants.
See Also: How to Grow a Bird Friendly Garden
6 Ways Birds Can Help Your Garden
There are many ways different birds can improve your garden. While not every bird will be a welcome helper in the same way, birds can provide…
Many birds eat a range of insects, including larvae and grubs, spiders, aphids, crickets, earwigs, gnats, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, and Japanese beetles. When bug-munching birds are welcome in the garden, you won’t need toxic chemicals or other harmful control methods to keep insects from devastating your flowers, foliage, and produce. Thrushes, thrashers, warblers, flycatchers, bluebirds, robins, cardinals, jays, swallows, martins, and many other birds can easily provide natural pest control.
Unwelcome rodents such as mice, gophers, voles, rats, chipmunks, and squirrels can devastate a garden or landscape by nibbling on fruits, bulbs, and vegetables and digging up planted beds. Backyard raptors, however, will gladly hunt these animals as prey, reducing their populations dramatically. Owls, kestrels, and hawks are all adept hunters who will help control these unwanted small mammals so there will be no need for rodenticides or messy traps.
See Also: The Benefits of Bird Feeding
When blooms are better pollinated you will enjoy bigger, brighter flowerbeds. You’ll see more productive harvests in your vegetable garden or amongst your berry bushes and fruit trees. While bees and butterflies are the most popular pollinators, many birds also spread pollen and aid garden productivity. Hummingbirds, orioles, sunbirds, bulbuls, and white-eyes are all excellent pollinators and provide a valuable service to all gardeners.
If you have plants you don’t want in your garden, you don’t need to spend hours weeding or use harsh herbicides for control. Instead, seed-eating birds can keep weeds at bay with their voracious appetites. Finches, quail, towhees, sparrows, and doves all eat a wide range of seeds and will help keep weed growth minimized as they feed on natural seeds in the garden. Not only will they munch on fallen seeds, but they will also pick seeds right off the plants as well.
Aerated soil gives plant roots better access to air and water, lowers soil compaction, and fosters more vigorous root growth. This supports stronger, larger, and healthier plants. Birds that peck into the ground or scratch around to find insects not only help control bug populations, but also help aerate the soil at the same time. Starlings, jays, grackles, robins, sparrows, and ibises are all expert aerators that any gardener should welcome.
Fertilizing the garden adds essential nutrients to the soil. This in turn provides plants with proper nourishment while birds provide natural fertilization with their feces. Bird waste is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, key nutrients for healthy plants. While a few songbirds will not provide enough fertilization for an entire garden, every bit of feces they leave behind will be put to excellent use by hungry plants.
Attracting Garden Birds
If you want to take advantage of all the benefits birds can bring to your garden, you must make them feel welcome. In turn, they will visit often and spend plenty of time among your plants.
- Add a bird bath near your garden, or better yet, right in your flowerbed, berry patch, or garden rows. Birds will notice the sparkles of the water, bringing them right to the garden. As they bathe, any splashes they create can help water nearby plants.
- Let your garden look a bit more natural with tiered plants or thicket-like patches. Birds will feel more comfortable and will be more likely to stay nearby if they feel sheltered and safe. A heavily pruned garden will make birds feel more exposed and threatened.
- Add feeding areas near the garden, such as supplemental feeders or plants specifically for the birds to enjoy. With more food sources available, there will be more birds taking advantage of the bounty and lending their assistance to the garden.
- Provide nesting sites in the yard, including birdhouses, nesting platforms, and natural options such as hollow trees or thorny patches where birds can safely raise families. Baby birds have hearty appetites for insects, and their parents will use your garden to meet that need.
- Discourage predators that can threaten birds, including outdoor cats, raccoons, and snakes. Using baffles can keep these unwanted interlopers away from nests and feeders, and will help protect birds so they will stay nearby.
- Take positive steps to attract a wide variety of bird species. Offer several types of food in multiple feeding stations, bird baths at different heights, birdhouses for different birds, and other options to invite more species to your yard.
The more diverse your backyard flock, the more help birds will provide to your garden, and the more benefits you’ll realize from that feathered cooperation throughout the season. Your birds and your garden will thank you!