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Blackbirds digging in planting holes

Hi,

This is my first post here and a newcomer to gardening.

Last summer, we turned our awful lawn into a wildlife friendly garden. The past few weeks, blackbirds are causing me so much stress. They are digging right into every planting hole, exposing the roots of many plants (I never knew they could did so deep!), damaging the new growth of several perennials etc. It is so disheartening to wake up each morning so see the carnage.

I am making some chicken wire cages to go around each plant so hopefully that will stop them but my question is will they continue to cause this damage all year or is it just a spring thing as they never touched the plants during last summer?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks!
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  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 77,491
    Turn some soil over elsewhere in an area that it’s ok for them to look for lunch ... it’s the nesting, egg laying and nestling rearing season ... they need to keep their strength up.  😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,672
    You could try a distraction with suet pellets scattered through the borders. It always seems to be worse at this time of year, and eases off in a few weeks.
     l think all you can do is go out each day and repair the damage.
  • Thanks for the reply but the thing is, I have a seed bed which I turned over a few days ago and they don’t touch it!

    I put food out for them too but they still demolish my plants.

    Will I be able to remove the wire cages in a few weeks then?
  • Thanks AnnieD, hopefully the wire cages will mean I won’t have anything to repair from now on but I’m just anxious that when I take the cages off (which I’ll have to so the plants can grow) they’ll just start again but if the problem will ease off, I can maybe relax a bit!

    will the damage they’ve caused so far kill any plants?
  • I'm a bit surprised the blackbirds are being so 'specific' - digging in planting holes - can only think they're after worms. With me, it's when they want nesting material, which for one phase of the nest means mud, preferably with some roots to hold it together - they start digging in my carnivorous plants (in pots outdoors), which have moss on the surface, and nice soggy compost underneath - they sometimes just uproot the plant and chuck it on one side. Very determined, once they've chosen somewhere. I've been providing an alternative tray of mud - the soil from last year's growbags, with tomato roots, seems popular.

    I've sometimes had tame blackbirds (one female with some white markings at the moment, who I've known for 4 years). The trouble with a tame bird is that you can't scare it! I had a blackbird go in the greenhouse and start pulling labels out (why?) - on trying to shoo it out, it just looked at me as if to say "Could you come back later - I'm busy pulling out these labels...".
  • I'm a bit surprised the blackbirds are being so 'specific' - digging in planting holes - can only think they're after worms. With me, it's when they want nesting material, which for one phase of the nest means mud, preferably with some roots to hold it together - they start digging in my carnivorous plants (in pots outdoors), which have moss on the surface, and nice soggy compost underneath - they sometimes just uproot the plant and chuck it on one side. Very determined, once they've chosen somewhere. I've been providing an alternative tray of mud - the soil from last year's growbags, with tomato roots, seems popular.

    I've sometimes had tame blackbirds (one female with some white markings at the moment, who I've known for 4 years). The trouble with a tame bird is that you can't scare it! I had a blackbird go in the greenhouse and start pulling labels out (why?) - on trying to shoo it out, it just looked at me as if to say "Could you come back later - I'm busy pulling out these labels...".
    Thanks, I have seen the female taking nesting material into a hedge and I did soak the seed bed I mentioned earlier to see if their digging was mud-related and she did collect mud to plaster the nest.

    Yesterday though, it rained quite heavily but the seed bed was ignored and all the plants were targeted. 

    I also have a pond which has a boggy area, this has been used a little bit for mud but the pants are their go-to.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,672
    I think they'd have to be going some to actually kill the plants, as long as you can get them back in the ground and firm them back in ASAP they should be okay. What sort of perennials are they ?
  • AnniD said:
    I think they'd have to be going some to actually kill the plants, as long as you can get them back in the ground and firm them back in ASAP they should be okay. What sort of perennials are they ?
    Ah, ok, thanks. They are going for Veronica’s, Cirsium, Alchemilla, Caryopteris, Sedum, Leucanthemum, Rudbeckia, Geranium, Verbena, Primula, Geum, Euphorbiajustbto name a few!

    they haven’t pulled up any plants (yet) but are completely removing all the soil from around the crown of the plants, a good few inches deep. It’s particularly prevalent when the soil is damp. 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,672
    I don't think you have too much to worry about. If they're not physically digging out the plants l should just put any disturbed soll back around each plant and just check it's firm in the ground. Even though they're digging down a bit, as the plants are only recently planted the roots are still fairly compact,  and within a few months should become well established. The blackbirds are attracted to the damper soil in the search for worms etc. It may feel a bit like Groundhog day, going round putting soil back, but l suspect that in a week or two you shouldn't have a problem  :)
    Just one of the joys of wildlife !
  • Thank you for all your help, I feel a little bit better now!
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