Finches and swallows for pest control?

jennorton

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Hi there, has anyone heard of keeping small insectivorous birds like swallows for pest control in a large caged veggie patch avery combo? I can't find any information on it anywhere. I have my veggie patch caged to keep the birds, possums and wallabies off my crops (without the cage we would get nothing) but I have inadvertently created a caterpillar, grasshopper and thrip haven. So I'm thinking of adding feed and water stations, nesting boxes and perches and keeping some small birds to eat the bugs and I'm trying to research it but I can't find any information on it.

Any tips or suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance!
 

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Mandy Onderwater

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I think it'd definitely possible, though also somewhat unconventional. As someone whose father breeds canaries for song I can see complications with it, including that birds can actually go into shock and die from stress. A good way to combat this, of course, is get a hold of them from egg/very young and grow them relatively tame. That way they won't freak out whilst you are gardening and you could potentially create your own sort of ecosystem.
You could also create entry and exit points for small birds to enter through freely. Generally small birds do less damage to your plants, even if they aren't the birds you necessarily look for. And if you feed them on a schedule, they will learn when they can enter and when it's less fortious. You could train them by putting small feeders just inside of the holes (so they aren't actually inside) and teaching them to come to your place to eat.

Birds are very skittish creatures, but when they get used to you they can be really friendly and some species will even teach their young where it's safe for them to go. My aunt used to feed them on a schedule and the birds would actually peck the window or chirp really loudly if she was late. These were wild birds, mind you. She just loved seeing them around.

But either way I definitely could see this happening, though it'd be fairly experimental. I personally love the idea and with the right care it could be quite fun. I kind of imagine it to be like a butterfly house, except with edible plants and birds 😍
 

JP 1983

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Oh, that reminds me. Aussie magpies are super easy to tame and are great bug and grub hunters to boot. Encouraging them to hang out in your garden area may help considerably.
 

jennorton

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Oh, that reminds me. Aussie magpies are super easy to tame and are great bug and grub hunters to boot. Encouraging them to hang out in your garden area may help considerably.
We already have a flock of wild "tamed" magpies, kookaburras and noisey miners that we feed and encourage for biodiversity and because they tell us if there is a snake around. They're excellent lookouts but unfortunately they can't access my main veggie patch because it is entirely enclosed in avery wire.
 

jennorton

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I think it'd definitely possible, though also somewhat unconventional. As someone whose father breeds canaries for song I can see complications with it, including that birds can actually go into shock and die from stress. A good way to combat this, of course, is get a hold of them from egg/very young and grow them relatively tame. That way they won't freak out whilst you are gardening and you could potentially create your own sort of ecosystem.
You could also create entry and exit points for small birds to enter through freely. Generally small birds do less damage to your plants, even if they aren't the birds you necessarily look for. And if you feed them on a schedule, they will learn when they can enter and when it's less fortious. You could train them by putting small feeders just inside of the holes (so they aren't actually inside) and teaching them to come to your place to eat.

Birds are very skittish creatures, but when they get used to you they can be really friendly and some species will even teach their young where it's safe for them to go. My aunt used to feed them on a schedule and the birds would actually peck the window or chirp really loudly if she was late. These were wild birds, mind you. She just loved seeing them around.

But either way I definitely could see this happening, though it'd be fairly experimental. I personally love the idea and with the right care it could be quite fun. I kind of imagine it to be like a butterfly house, except with edible plants and birds 😍
Thanks for the tips. I plan to learn a lot more about keeping small birds before I try this experiment. Im also a little concerned that they will eat all my pollinators and maybe that's why no one does it? Unfortunately I can't have any small openings to encourage wild birds because rats and mice would also get in and eat everything.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Hmm, that is quite possible. Unless you go for a completely herbivorous bird, they might eat the bees. Especially the stingless natives. But that would defeat the point. You could perhaps set up netting to keep critters out altogether, but that'd make access for the bees difficult too - unless you plan on raising bees in there. Unless you keep small, designated holes for the bees to enter in from, with potential of a hive inside your garden space, as they would be too small for rats.
It's very tricky.
 
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