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Birds – Allies and Foes

A bit about Birds

RobinThe nesting season of wild birds is in full swing in May. Soon the birds themselves will reach their peak of usefulness to man.

Robin, wren, hedge-sparrow, song-thrush and many others will be about their business of finding food for hungry nestlings, and so will be making constant inroads on garden pests.

There is an important lesson here: birds are great allies in the war against pests even if some species can be a bit of a problem with the fruit bushes. The house sparrow in particular has seen a huge decline in population since the 1940’s.

Encouraging birds is good for the garden as well as the general environment. There’s help and advice available on the RSPB website.

True, the song-thrush may later take small toll of your bush fruit; but, all the same, this bird ‘is the gardener’s very good friend. Of all our birds, it is the champion snail killer ; if it were no more than that, it would deserve protection and encouragement.

Bird Thrush

Hedge Sparrow Bird TitAs for robin, wren and hedge-sparrow—nobody has anything but good to say of them; in fact, there is nothing but good to say. Any or all of them may nest in gardens; if any of
them nests ‘in yours, let it nest in peace. Your interest and protection will be repaid a hundredfold.

Then there are the great tit and the blue tit. If you have a nest box in your garden—maybe even if you haven’t—you may have the great good luck to harbour a family of either species.

The last analysis of the food of these two feathered benefactors showed two-thirds injurious insects for the great tit, no less than three-quarters for the blue!

What gardener would grudge such friends as these an occasional beakful of fruit? It’s a pity to add a discordant note ; but there are birds you will need to watch.

The house-sparrow, it is true, feeds its young on grubs and insects and takes a good many for itself; but it can be a nuisance when green things are coming through. If you are near a wood and there are jays about, look to your peas. If there are woodpigeons, look to anything in the garden that can be eaten.

But apart from these few, the birds are your friends. If you give them a square deal, they will give you something better than that, for not all your labour or insecticides will do so much to keep the garden clean. And remember, the birds are on the job all day long

Pigeon Jay Sparrow