Sunday, June 24, 2012

Feathered Friends Aren't Always Kind

Yellow Crock Neck Squash
I have one of the most beautiful gardens I believe I have ever harvested.  I remember the compost, tacked the weeds, controlled the insects and kept the dogs out.  All of that effort and I still had one more nuisance that baffled me.  My plants are growing healthy enough but don't seem to be producing as well as they should considering the growing number of blossoms appearing every day.

The home my husband and I purchased came with a row of 10ft tall Huckleberry trees lining the back of the lot.  The berries that are produce by these trees are a natural source of attraction for birds.  Most of the birds are harmless and simply beautiful to watch. One species however was become quite a handful.  Grackles are destructive, dominant, messy and harmful.  It wasn't more than two weeks into our new residence that the neighbors began to ask when we would be removing the trees.  My husband and I began cutting them down on our own  in hopes of deterring the creatures.  We still have a few to deal with.

Green Beans
It became obvious that the blossoms on my plants are being plucked off by the birds.  I searched the internet in hopes of finding some natural means of persuading the creatures to keep there distance from my crops.  Destroying them is not an option I would even remotely consider.  I had no luck except for the use of Saffron seeds.  That turned out to be more costly than I was willing to accept.

Next I consulted my mom who shared with me her answer to tackling the trouble makers.  She purchased a motion sensor hawk that squawks loudly whenever motion is detected.  She lives in a more sparse  area than I do.  The crowded neighborhood I reside in would not willingly accept the nightly noise.  Would I ever find a reasonable and useful solution to the flock of unwanted guests?

Chile Pequin
Next I searched for motion sensor lights hoping they would help.  Even on e-bay they lights were more than I wanted to pay.  Yes my crops are very important to me.  I am proud of my garden, but I was determined to find a solution that would not cost me more than I could pay.  Next my husband and I made a trip to Walmart to see if they had any solutions that would resolve our predicament.   I wasn't sure we were in the right place to find what we needed.

Bird Deterrent 

I was surprised to find that Walmart had several options available. First was a deer that stood about 3 1/2 foot tall.  Once the birds motion was detected the deer would ward off the birds by moving it's head.  Great solution, and quite attractive. Forty-five dollars is  more than I am willing to fork over.  Next came an owl that stood about 2 feet tall with bulging eyes that would light up and a neck that would rotate.  Not bad, but still out of budget.  Finally I eyed these brightly colored inflatable balls with neon decorations and streamers.  At $5 apiece (I needed two for my size of garden) I finally found something that was affordable.  My husband installed them immediately and the trick works.  Apparently Grackles are not fond of bright neon colors moving in the wind.

Homemade Bird Deterrent
Once that was solved I concentrated on keeping the feathered animals away from my dogs food.  It was disappearing quicker than I could fill the bowl.  I was also getting tired of having to bleach the patio every weekend.  My husband curiously studies our new purchase and announces "we can do this better".   I listened as he explains his idea to architect a design to hang above the food dish on the patio.  A cheap green planting container is used as the base since we had plenty of these laying around.  A beer can is snipped to fit around the base and attached with Gorilla glue.  Shoe strings were tied around the can to hold it in place until completely dried.  I cut six strips of aluminum foil about a foot long and used the many different arrays of colored finger nail polish I have to paint a strip down the middle.  We left the project to dry over night.  Using different lengths of twine one end of the foil is twisted and tied securely.  The other end is weaved through a hole in the base and attached with a knot in the string.  Once all six were attached another piece of twine is threaded through the top of the base, tied off and attached to a hook on the gutter.  It makes quiet a spectacle breezing around in the sunlight.   Grackles will hover madly above the fixture, but never fly below it.

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