Why are blackbirds digging the garden

In all the years I have been gardening and feeding birds this is the first year that the blackbirds have decided to dig up everything in sight.  The garden looks a complete mess after a couple of days, bark mulch all over the paths, bulbs and plants dug up and left laying around, it's a constant battle putting it all back and very cold too.  Has anyone else experienced this.  It has always happened but not to the extent of this year. I love the birds to bits but they are trying my patience this winter.



  • Caz WCaz W Posts: 1,353

    Jobird, we love the blackbirds but have always referred to the as "The Hooligans".  imageThis tossing around of bark mulch whilst searching for food sounds like normal behaviour to me.  Got to say they've never dug bulbs up - the squirrel usually sees to that image .  

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    Just saving you a jobimage



  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,029

    Your soil must be easier digging than I'm used to Jobird. The blackbirds sling mulches  but the bulbs are in some pretty solid soil

  • They are just looking for something tasty to eat,annoying but imagethat's the joy of wildlife,and they will eat all those pesky snails and slugs.


  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    I have to say, I kept finding several bulbs and flowers damaged in the way. I eventually found out that it was squirels who were looking for food and random acorns they had buried earlier in the season, 2 of my large planters had to be re-done. Maybe if you are able to put some food out that they like they might stop searching for their natural food.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,755

    I feed the birds and put out plenty of sultanas, chopped apple and oats for the blackbirds, but I can't provide what's best for them - worms - they have to find those themselves, and they do. image 

    I love to watch the blackbirds rootling around in my borders for worms - it means my soil must be in pretty good heart.  After all, sweeping some bark mulch back off the path every few days isn't really that onerous is it?  Far better than starving birds IMHO.

    As for digging up plants and bulbs image unless  your bulbs are planted far too shallowly, or you've seen a blackbird with a trowel under his wing, it's unlikely to be them - far more likely to be pesky grey squirrels - plant your bulbs deep and in  'bags' made of small mesh chicken wire' - that'll stop the little blighters.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • My blackbirds dig through my compost bins & they can fairly shift a sizable amount in a short time!!  They love snacking on my worms.  Pity they didn't like the slugs so much.  The birds did a rubbish job on them last year.  If humans ate them I could have raised 3 sets of triplets out of my garden alone!

  • I have the same issue, At first I thought it was a cat as it was always a specific area of the border. After months of frustration and hazarding guesses I caught the blackbird digging and flicking the mulch all over the patio one morning in the exact places. I know it's frustrating but it is nature and unfortunately as others have said I love birds and although it's stressful sweaping the mulch back onto the border and recovering exposed plant roots put yourself in the animals position they have got to eat.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,755

    That's a good attitude you have there David image

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • 1Runnybeak11Runnybeak1 Posts: 7,003

    Jobird......maybe it's because you left your spade out image

  • AlieshAliesh Posts: 182

    my bird feeders are hung on a dead maple  that i planted in a pot many years ago sadly it died on me last year,  so i trimmed the branches and now  its my bird feeding station, it has a slate mulch and the blackbirds constantly chuck it on the ground.

  • I would say we have a wildlife garden rather than a flower garden.....Mice and Squirrels dug up the Crocuses and Grape Hyacinths......Rabbits bit all the heads off my Tulips and spat them on the ground.....Blackbirds scattered mulch everywhere....Moles made hills and holes in the lawn....and Sparrows pecked the heads off my Primroses....not to mention the slugs and snails. But how we love them all ! W e don't have all that  many flowers though !

  • bookmonsterbookmonster Posts: 196

    Annoying as it is I'd take it as a compliment. The blackbirds have steadily become more interested as we've improved our soil.

  • I've got a similar problem. I have watched the blackbirds do it, not squirrels, but in my case all the blue lobelia bedding plants are sought out and then pulled from the bed and dumped on the grass or pathway. No other plant is touched. These are replanted when seen and within 24 hours are out again. I am going to lose in the region of 60 plants. Sadly I'm not finding this an "ah is that nice" situation.

  • Kate26Kate26 Posts: 1

    I also have the dreaded 'blackbird problem'. I am sick and tired of going outside to re-arrange my bark chips, after the blackbirds seem to be enjoying a competition to see which one of them can sling it the furthest. Strangely, my neighbour next door has bright orange bark chips in his borders and the blackbirds never touch those! There's never a chip out of place. I like gardens to look as natural as possible and chose 'normal' chips, rather than radio active orange ones, but perhaps my neighbour knew what he was doing when he bought his! Lesson learned - don't put bark chips in your borders!

  • Look at it from another point of view..........if you go to the ever increasing Sales, what do you do ?  Rummage about to find the best bargain whilst tossing aside the rubbish. That's what the birds are doingimage

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    I'd pay to have more blackbirds in the garden. They're not as forthcoming as I'd like, despite having plenty of suitable areas for them - especially a nice border to rummage in - with a bark mulch! At a previous garden, they used to make me laugh, hoiking the bark out to find all sorts of tasty morsels and snaffling the berries from the pyracantha near the front door image

  • We have a very small courtyard & mulching is important as the Australian climate is hot & drought prone. The blackbirds used to decimate our courtyard space with their digging habits at least twice a day making the space dirty & unusable. We used black PVC coated chicken wire to cover all exposed soil bed areas, it's hardly noticeable on top of dark brown/black mulch. The birds are very persistent and moved to digging in the larger potted plants; we followed their destruction & chicken wired everything they moved to. Eventually they gave up & we can enjoy our clean tidy courtyard again. We still hear them but from a far in the neighbors garden now image

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    How sad.  I'd rather have a messy plot and loads of blackies any day.    

    Fortunately there's loads just now so they're beginning to find their way around my garden. Putting loads of suet treats through the borders is now paying off.  'Mrs' was eating all the berries on a lonicera earlier. Delightful image

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,149

    I'm with you Fairygirl. 

    When we moved here 4 years ago I sprinkled suet treat about and the blackbirds searched them out and the slugs, / snail eggs and the adults .

    I'd not be without them and happily rake the mulch back onto the beds.

Sign In or Register to comment.