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fignut

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Reply with quote  #1 
The following is an old Garden Web post from 2009.  I thought it might help folks with bird problems.

Lon Rombough has graciously given permission to post his whole article from the North American Fruit Explorers Pomona quarterly.

Fighting Birds with Birds

by Lon Rombough
Pomona Fall 2009 Vol. XLII No. 4

If you have any fruit in your garden, it only SEEMS like every bird in the world is after the crop. The reality is that a very small percentage of bird species eat fruit. Many others eat weed and grass seeds, and a good number eat insects and other invertebrates. Do the right things and you can recruit some of those insect and seed eaters as helpers.  There are many species of wrens in North America and these feisty little insect eaters are very useful allies. Wrens of most species are very territorial and will defend their nests against other birds vigorously. A blueberry grower put nest boxes for wrens at each corner of a one acre blueberry plot. That way, the wrens had overlapping territories over the whole acre. So long as the bird houses were in good shape, the blueberries were protected by the little birds who would fiercely drive off any other bird species that came into their territory. Their effectiveness was proven when a storm knocked down a birdhouse at one corner of the field. With no wren to guard that area, the fruit eating birds moved into that section. Once the house was repaired a wren moved back in and the other birds moved OUT.  More than one species of wren can do the job, too. We have a small pond where a marsh wren nested in the cattails, and even though our blueberries were at least 200 feet away, because they were in the line of sight of the wren, that little bird went after the robins and jays enough to greatly reduce how many berries the thieves took.  If you do enlist the wrens, put the houses up high so they will be able to see a larger area and "claim" it as their territory. In an average city lot two houses should be enough to cover the whole yard, if they are placed correctly.  Granted, using wrens works best when the wrens are nesting and raising young, but given the low cost of installing a few wren houses, the method is worth trying as it can help change the feeding patterns of the fruit eating birds, and some wrens may remain in residence long enough to help keep the fruit eaters out until you’ve harvested all your crop. And while they are there, they will be eating hundreds or thousands of insects that might otherwise feed on your other plants.  Using wrens for helpers isn’t a birdbrained idea.
Site for wren house plans http://www.50birds.com/mpb040806114.htm

Lon Rombough is very active in NAFEX and is the special consultant on grapes. He is involved with many other fruit related organizations and many kinds of fruit - including figs. He consults on fruit and has a lot of information available including videos, a book (The Grape Grower, winner of the Garden Writers Association "Best Talent in Writing" award for 2003) and a very interesting web site: http://www.bunchgrapes.com...

 

rcantor

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Reply with quote  #2 
This is great, thanks!


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Zone 6, MO

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Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig
WL

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Reply with quote  #3 
I think I would like to try Wren bird houses. Can they placed on a tree on do you need to place them on a pole? Thanks.
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Growing: HC, LAD, Desert King, GI, Conadria, LSU Gold, LSU Purple, LSU Orourke, LSU Hollier,  Vdb, Rdb, OP, Nero 600m, Sucrette, Negretta, CdDN, Black Malta, Orphan, Deanna, SV, Abebereira, LSU improved Celeste, JHA, Paradisco Green

Dave
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Northern Virginia
GButera

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Reply with quote  #4 
Good information,thanks!
paully22

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks. Good information
pino

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks fignut for posting this. I have been a fan of Lon for many years following his expertise on grapes and berry growing.

IMO It is important that people realize how great birds are to the environment and the fact that many of them only eat seeds and won't normally touch figs.  However, omnivore birds like crows, robins, mockingbirds, chickens, ducks do love figs.  But as Lon says the seed birds are territorial and chase away the others.  This seems to be what I observe in my setup.

My 2 wren houses are great and attracted some nice warbler families.  
My problem with bird houses is that it only attracts 2 birds per bird house.  What works to attract dozens of birds at a time is a bird feeder.  I fill up the feeder and within a few hrs it is empty but the birds then pick off the seeds that fell on the grass the rest of the day.  

I have some 40 fig trees around the same tree where the feeder is benefiting from some partial shade and have yet to see a bird peck a fig.  I have also tested putting some cherries, appricots and other fruits near the feeder.  
Surprisingly to me at first was that the birds will not touch the fruit they really do just eat seeds.  Bird visitors include doves, bluejays, cowbirds, finch, cardinals, orioles, sparrows ....

cardinal finch IMG_4972.jpg 

IMG_5005.jpg 



Attached Images
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jpeg finch sparrowIMG_4981b.jpg (48.39 KB, 16 views)
jpeg cow finch IMG_4997.jpg (64.50 KB, 16 views)


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Pino, zone 6, Niagara
Wish List: Brogiotto Bianco, Fico Datto, Fiorone di Ruvo, Fracazzano Multicolore, Fiorone Oro, Popone, Rigato del Salento and other multi colour striped figs

Pino's Figs / Pino's Photos; 2017 Brebas / 2017 Main crop

snaglpus

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Reply with quote  #7 
I love birds!  Especially if it's deep fried in grease!  Sorry, I just couldn't resist!

My problem isn't the Wrens!  It's the Catbirds, Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers and Robins.  I've already lost a few Improved Celeste and Brown Turkey figs to these guys!  Even if the figs aren't ripe, they peck holes testing the fig.  I open my garage every Spring and Summer to let fresh air in and out.  Every year, the Wren nest on the top shelf.  I need to place a bird bath out and see if that will help.

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Dennis
Charlotte, North Carolina/Zone 8a 

GButera

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Reply with quote  #8 
My nephew is an organic farmer,he has quite a few fig trees and sellls the figs at market.He feeds the birds seed
just like in the picture above.He doesnt have problems
with the birds eating his figs.
As for me ,I have a few large fig trees that produce well.
All my neighbors feed the birds which also attract many hawks that feed on these birds.I have no problems with them.
pino

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snaglpus
I love birds!  Especially if it's deep fried in grease!  Sorry, I just couldn't resist!

My problem isn't the Wrens!  It's the Catbirds, Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers and Robins.  I've already lost a few Improved Celeste and Brown Turkey figs to these guys!  Even if the figs aren't ripe, they peck holes testing the fig.  I open my garage every Spring and Summer to let fresh air in and out.  Every year, the Wren nest on the top shelf.  I need to place a bird bath out and see if that will help.

I know its not funny losing a fig to a bird.

But the point is that birds are territorial so if you can attract seed birds in volume the omnivore birds that love to eat your figs will not come around.

I guess it sounds like a lot of work but for me its worth it because seed birds are very colourful and really make the place look and sound alive.

The alternatives of netting, cages and organza bags are also a lot of work and in the end you will still lose the odd fig to ants and wasps.

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Pino, zone 6, Niagara
Wish List: Brogiotto Bianco, Fico Datto, Fiorone di Ruvo, Fracazzano Multicolore, Fiorone Oro, Popone, Rigato del Salento and other multi colour striped figs

Pino's Figs / Pino's Photos; 2017 Brebas / 2017 Main crop

fignut

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Reply with quote  #10 
Pino, thanks for mentioning that a bird feeder will also work.  I'm more comfortable maintaining a feeder than bird houses.  

I also thought of another bird deterrent that I'd heard about.  I can't say if it works - but supposedly Grape Kool-aid sprayed on the figs will deter birds.
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