Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Natural Pest Control... Beneficial Birds.



Many birds we encourage to settle in the garden perform a most beneficial duty by naturally purging it unwanted pests. Among the most beneficial little birds is the delightful House Wren who has probably made a nest in some odd place close to the house since our scent does not deter them. I am convinced they watch our antics as much as we watch theirs and I imagine they think we are funny indeed. The Wrens come here in the spring and are considered a songbird even though their song is heard only during the nesting season and rarely afterwards. Their variable diet consists entirely of insects, spiders, snails, flies, ticks, plant lice, gypsy moth larvae, ants, and grasshoppers making them a valuable asset to the gardener for natural pest control.


A natural way to curb the nasty mosquito is to encourage the lovely Purple Martin to take up residence in the garden by installing an apartment for them. For several hundred years the Purple Martin has lived almost exclusively in homes provided in backyards, and Native American tribes made homes for them from stacked gourds. This little bird gets all of its food and water while in flight and skims the surface of ponds scooping up mosquito larvae in its lower bill. Watching the acrobatic skill of these darting blue/black birds one finds it amazing they never collide. Each Purple Martin can eat over 10,000 mosquitoes a day, making them first class super heroes.


The Mississippi Kite Hawks have come back and may be seen soaring high, smoothly floating on air currents. Their alternate name is the Mosquito Hawk for they are able catch and eat insects while airborne. Pairs come here to nest each year and their nest is built high in the tree tops for safety; the brood usually consists of two, who are raised by both parents. Kites not exactly friendly and are extremely protective of their young… they have a reputation for fearlessly ‘dive bombing’ people who venture too close to their nests. Regardless of their ill temper, the Kite is a truly beneficial bird for insect control. Simply remember not to intrude upon their 'personal space'.


It is indeed part of a divine plan that Nature has bequeathed us with interesting and colorful feathered friends who not only entertain us their with songs, delight us with their antics, but also protect us from predatory insects which arrive every spring to torment the gardener. Insects and mosquitoes beware… our friends are on the prowl.