Disturbing Birds - Seedlings and Our Feathered Friends

Don’t you just enjoy that familiar early morning joyous melody of birds singing and excitingly announcing that Spring has finally sprung? I have a love for all my Avian friends and toyed with the idea of bird feeder on my patio to attract more winged lovelies! Even the cooing of the doves, messy as they may be, never really bothered me.

Well, my joy was soon replaced when I noticed my carefully tended seedlings disappear as if a garden fairy had waived a magic wand. Listening to the delightful coo quickly awakened an inborn battle-spirit as if responding to a war cry. Lying in a bit later than I would normally do, I noticed doves on my bedroom balcony. Shocked I saw these little thieves delightfully helping themselves to my seedlings!

 Almost having an attack of apoplexy, I stormed outside and chased them away. One arrogant little winger, seedling tightly clasped in its beak, flew up, hovered, and looked at me as if I am out of my mind for overreacting in this way. Most definitely not hungry of course! A lightbulb moment! It is nesting season!

I have been painstakingly planning my patio garden for weeks! Going through the whole rigmarole of finding the best sunny spots, propagating my seeds, and finally transplanting my seedlings. All this effort just to lose almost half of my seedlings! I was not impressed at all! Admittedly, I quickly learned that there is a fine line between love and hate. My pet love for all things winged is slowly being replaced by revenge and anger. My now murderous mind took me back to farm life when we were little. I should get a pellet gun!! Yes, sure! My butt will be thrown into jail for just aiming a pellet gun, albeit at a few pesky doves. Perhaps a slingshot would do the trick? A maliciously-fun, but equally risky and dangerous idea. Besides, poison is also out of the question as well! As an immediate fix and out of pure desperation, I broke a small mirror and placed the pieces on the soil surface in my pots. I needed to do some research on “friendly” ways to repel my nemesis. Hopefully, the shards of mirror glass would keep them at bay for a while.

Forcing myself to change my attitude, I took the time to research acceptable alternatives to repel my winged visitors. Reflective items are advised so the mirror shards will do for now. There is high regard for the old scarecrow as well. Any toy “predator” would work, but it seems that one should never underestimate the intelligence of our winged friends. One should move the scarecrow regularly or they will become a favourite bird-seat like that of a parrot on a pirate’s shoulder. Interestingly, the good old Marigold doesn’t just deter unwelcome insects and pests, but apparently doves (my current culprits) don’t like them either.   My only predicament is that my seedlings still need to reach some stage of maturity before I can add the Marigolds in between. Another, and I think, the most successful option, would be a garden windmill. The scent of peppermint oil, citronella, lemon, cayenne pepper, chilli, garlic, and vinegar will supposedly also do the trick. But on that note - imagine you’re a bird coming in for landing, would you really pause to inhale the deterring scent? I might be wrong, but If I were this little culprit I would aim, grab, and go!

Research done and dusted and armed with a wealth of information, I decided to give the windmill spinner a go! I noted that our local supermarket sells these in the kiddies’ section. Although not a branded avian repelling windmill spinner, I am sure it will do. It is also not that pricey! I still have quite a few shards from the broken mirror which I will glue on plant markers and stick them in the pots. Let’s see how I go!

Feeling a bit more optimistic, I will transplant the rest of my vegetable seedlings this week.  This time I will be more alert and pro-active. I will also cover my pots with some plastic mesh to protect my seedlings until they are mature enough to withstand an attack. Luckily, nesting season will be over soon. To mend our broken trust and to soothe my guilty conscience, I will provide a bird feeder to help raising their young.

About the Author

Michele Fourie is the Seeds for Africa General Manager. Michele loves growing beautiful flowers, chilli plants and is passionate about exceptional customer. service. Michele is also a fundi in the kitchen. Check out her blog post on making your own sweet pickled piquant cherry peppers at this link.