Birds should be regarded as principle allies with the gardener, in his or her endeavors to control pest insects which affect the garden plants. Quite simply, the more birds which visit a garden, either as permanent residents, or as short-term sojourners on their migratory path, the less the infestations involving pest organisms.
It’s been estimated that a bird and her mate, that nest twice a year, rearing about ten chicks, ingest the fantastic volume of some 150 pounds of pests, like aphids, eggs, and caterpillars. This converts numerically into millions of pests. Needless to say, not all birds are largely insectivores, but most species feed on pests at those times in the year when further protein sources are crucial.
Birds will not entirely eradicate pest insects from the garden. In reality, it is undesirable that they do so, because eradication isn’t the aim of intelligent pest management. Instead, the goal of the gardener generally ought to be to limit the population of pest and disease organisms to the point that the damage they inflict is tolerable.
There are two main reasons why this ostensibly modest approach to pest control is the more generally accepted one today, as opposed to the more conventional approach based on the use of pesticides. Firstly, it’s impossible to eradicate the bugs for long. Applying pesticides is always short term, as many insect species produce over 20 generations in a year.
At the same time, the insecticides could eliminate predatory and parasitic bugs that themselves control the pest populations. Further, birds and other wildlife escape from an environment swimming in pesticides, resulting in less restraint on the insects in the future generations. In contrast, while there are many active steps to attract birds to the garden, such as providing food, and water for drinking and bathing, the most vital method is to desist from applying pesticides, other than in the most extreme circumstances. It is best therefore not to see bugs as enemies, but rather as a essential source of food for birds.
It might be suggested that a number of birds themselves might be considered pests. In fact, there’s scarcely a species at all which directly damages plants. Including the woodpecker is only seeking bark pests and really reduces the amount of these damaging pests.
The problem surrounds fruit trees and other crop plants, which certain birds might devour at particular times of the year. This nevertheless, isn’t a good reason for discouraging birds to visit a garden. The answer is to protect the fruit by such means as netting or ideally by using decoy plants.
Because of this, as large a number and variety as you can of fruit bearing plants generally ought to be included into the garden plan. The idea isn’t to provide fruit for humans, but rather for the birds, therefore preserving a substantial amount of the desirable fruit from being eaten by the birds. For example species of hackberry, juniper, oak, berberis, cotoneaster, pyracantha, viburnum and more.