s. ayalp wrote:This topic is great. So many things that permies can add. I have one: If you are living in a city, have a fence that will keep cats out of your property. Birds will move in no time.
I believe feeding birds is actually a bit more complicated in permaculture site. What you are feeding? Some species can have unfair advantage over others if you feed same stuff all the time. European house sparrows will dominate your garden, killing diversity and so resilience (in Europe). When you are feeding? Generally there is two major periods that birds are in need of supplementary feed. It might differ from place to place; but over here they are: at the end of winter (to keep them alive) and at the end of summer (to keep the population growth). Winter is obvious (you might want to supplement with lard), summer time feeding is a bit trickier. Population explodes in spring time, but at the end of summer resources will dwindle due to lack of water (Mediterranean climate). This is usually the first major challenge for that years chicks. If you want to promote population growth, feed them; if you want to push off the unfit ones don't feed them. Chick feeding is also a time you might want to feed the birds if the population is larger than the natural carrying capacity of your property. They show such an interesting behavior (especially house sparrows). Feed them for 5-6 days, but remove the feeder for 1-2 days. They just can not go somewhere else, because their nests are in your property. They can not wait for the next day. There will be an annihilation of bugs and spiders during that time.
Generally birds love thorns. Have some zone 5 in your garden. Blackberry etc. Also have areas that are dedicated for natural feeding. Plant thristles for European gold finch, millet for sparrows and such.
Most importantly, don't think feeding birds as an extra cost or a luxury for your sight and ears. Some species are serious insect hunters (such as wren). They are your voluntary army that will hunt 24/7 instead of you using insecticides. Those funny little things are vicious hunters. You can easily manipulate this behavior. Such as having dedicated areas that birds will hang out around your vegatable garden.
Jay Angler wrote:For urban growers, squirrel pressure on birds is *huge*. Many people put out feeders, but I'm not seeing many birdhouses, so I encourage people to do a little research as to the type of nests needed for the birds you see and the ones you'd like to encourage, and the safe places (read squirrels can't get to them) you might be able to hang them. I just repaired a 10 year old house that my sister has hanging under her garage eve. A couple of sparrows have nested every year there, but we may have done our repairs too late for this year. Sparrows may not be exotic, but I have seen them feeding their young bugs.
Both my sisters have rabbit problems also, so they collect old hamster cages that people throw out and put them over young transplants to keep both the birds and the bunnies at bay until the plants get a chance to establish themselves. The biggest problem I have with robins is the strawberry patch. If they'd just eat *one* I wouldn't complain, but they insist on taking one bite out of 10!. I plant my strawberries in small groups that I can easily put netting over for the critical period. That way I get the free bug patrol over the large area, but still get a few strawberries.
Christopher Shepherd wrote:We leave our pea fences up all winter and move them in early spring. We let the pea plants on them and the birds poop all over them. We use 3 ft tall stakes for end markers and the birds love to perch on them too. We have robins, sparrows, finches, red wings and swallows. My wife gets a kick out of mowing our paths with a flock of swallows following her. The red wings love the raspberry patches. They perch and nest around them. We leave a bit of cover on the fields and when the black birds come and rest they coat the ground.
Christopher Shepherd wrote:Thank you. We do grow lots of stuff and share with the local wildlife. I am to cheap to buy feed for them so we grow it. I plant a 20 x 30 garden full of sunflowers, sorghum, amaranth, rape and popcorn. All these are seeds saved from our farm. We have a big brush pile that the locals throw their tree limbs into and this makes good cover for the birds and rabbits. We also leave rows of sorghum up all winter from our production fields for the birds. This gives them shelter, feed, and is a snow trap for water. When I am out at other properties I try to pick out seeds of different types of flowers and grasses and plant them along the creek with all of our berries. My neighbors sometimes complain about my creek. They have actually mowed it off with a cycle bar while I was at work 7 years ago. I put an end to that. The milkweed and nettles are finally back. About 5 years ago I notice the humming birds stopped coming to my wife’s hummingbird feeder in the summer. They all stay along the creek because there are flowers all summer long. It is nice to get buzzed by them while taking our evening walks.
Off topic here, I noticed the darn rabbits always eat my young oak trees off clear to the ground. This is ok, because after doing that for 2 years the little oak trees shoot up on the third year way above a rabbits reach. It is almost like the oaks need to be ate off to make them strong enough to grow up. I have 8” diameter oaks now that this happened to 14 years ago. We are trying to work with all the animals to improve our ecology, rabbit poo is good too.
Mike Turner wrote:Growing bamboo is a great way to provide cover for birds. It makes a great place for birds to roost overnight. The dense evergreen foliage hides them from predators and reduces their heat loss in cold weather. The flexible canes and branches with slick stems make it hard for land predators to climb up to them and the jiggling stems gives them plenty of warning that the predator is trying to reach them.
I have 100's to 1000's of blackbirds and grackles that overnight in my bamboo groves providing an aerial display every evening as they fly in at dusk (complete with red shouldered hawks and merlins working to intercept them on their way in) and the guano they leave behind fertilizes the bamboo groves and the surrounding land. During the day, cardinals and English sparrows use the groves as places to hang out.
S Smithsson wrote:I put out bread for our Ravens, and in turn they bring me little trinkets and leave them on my patio table. Shiny stuff usually, a coin, gum wrapper, one time a little tin fairy! Its now hanging up in my ponderosa pine.
Steve Thorn wrote:I honestly haven't tried to attract the birds, they've just come!
I've been growing a large amount of blueberries, grapes, and other food that they like to eat some of, and I have an almost totally wild area at the back of our property filled with small bushes and trees that the birds love to hide in.
I usually mulch my plants and garden a lot, and a ton of the birds love scratching around in it, especially the robins and eastern towhees.
It's such a great time of year, hearing all the different bird songs now!
The hummingbirds in my neighborhood adore Scarlet Runner Bean flowers. I get the beans (fresh eating + dried they make good bean dip), the soil micros get the nitrogen and the hummingbirds get the nectar and we're all happy. Much easier than feeders, and I worry that the feeders won't give the birds the micro-nutrients they need.
I admit that I just don't have time to keep hummingbird feeders cleaned and filled so instead I'm planting a ton of flowers they like.
Daron Williams wrote:What birds do you get the most? Do you have a favorite? Thanks for sharing!
julian Gerona wrote:If you want birds to eat insect then dont give food. Insect eating birds tend to be non plant eating birds.