The problem with Common Blackbirds
One of my readers posed this perplexing problem with Common Blackbirds:
Helppppp!!We have a Huggggggge problem with Blackbirds in our garden, flicking our mulch all over the place, it’s driving us crazy, do you know where we could get one of those electronic things to scare them off, or anything else that would work in getting rid of them??
This is a common problem in many gardens.
Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no simple, easy solution. Most gardeners tolerate this behaviour because they love to hear the beautiful song of the Blackbird during the breeding season.
Mary asks about an electronic device to scare them away. I do not know of any but I suggest asking at the local hardware stores and garden centres. A long search of the internet turned up one very expensive (about $50US) device in a store in Kansas. The downside of this device is that it does not discriminate; it scares ALL birds, including the native birds that keep the natural balance of nature in the garden. Without the native birds eating the insects like mosquitoes, flies, beetles, centipedes, spiders and so on, our gardens would become an ecological disaster area. It would be a far greater problem than the nuisance caused by the Blackbirds.
Here we need to get a little creative. I’m not sure whether any of these ideas will work because I haven’t tried them. Some may even look a little ugly.
- Get rid of the mulch – with water restrictions this may not be desirable or possible.
- Replace the bark mulch with gravel or pebbles too heavy for the birds to move – an expensive solution.
- Build 20cm high walls along the edges of the garden so that the Blackbirds do not flick the mulch on to the path. These could be made of stone, brick, pavers, wooden sleepers, pine posts on their edges and so on. Be creative.
- Cover the mulch with chicken wire, shade-cloth or weed mat. Probably not a good look.
- Turn around your attitude and learn to love the birds; after all, they are just looking for lunch.
I guess these suggestions may not please Mary and may just add to her frustrations. Sorry, Mary.
Over to my readers:
- Do you have any suggestions for Mary? (Please be nice – offensive comments will not be published).
- How have you solved this dilemma in your garden?
- Reply in the comments section below. Update: comments are now closed for this post because, sadly, some people cannot help being abusive.
UPDATE: I also posed this question to subscribers of the Birding-Aus forum. Many of their comments are recorded in the comments section below. I love the one about leaving plastic snakes lying around!
Hear the Blackbird singing in the morning
I love lingering in a warm, comfortable bed on a a cold, frosty morning. That was the case this morning. I needed to get up but the cosiness was so alluring. On occasions like this I love trying to identify the birds calling from the garden outside.
We usually have a few Honeyeaters and the resident Willie Wagtails. A few Little Ravens can often be heard off in the distance and the occasional flock of Galahs flies overhead. Sometimes I am aware of a Grey Currawong calling or perhaps even a Grey Butcherbird.
This morning it was different. My waking moments were highlighted by the delightful song of the male Common Blackbird. I will forgive this bird for being an introduced species here in South Australia; it’s call is so beautiful.
During the late autumn and winter the Blackbird is largely silent. Our resident birds can be seen skulking through the undergrowth. If disturbed they will fly off suddenly, giving a harsh warning call as it flies off.
Once the weather starts to warm a little the male Blackbird begins its amazing song, usually late afternoon and early evening. It would have to be one of the most beautiful songbirds in the world.
Common Blackbirds are an introduced species in Australia. Their range here is south of a line from Sydney in NSW to Port Lincoln in South Australia and they are found throughout South Eastern Australia, including large parts of Victoria and Tasmania. They are particularly found in parks and gardens where they enjoy scratching around in the leaf litter and mulch for their food. Many gardeners despise the Common Blackbird for their untidy habit of flicking bark, leaves, mulch and sticks on to their nice, neat garden paths.
The Blackbird may be an introduced species, it may have untidy eating habits but this is more than made up for by its beautiful song. There are few birds in Australia that can match the song of a Blackbird singing in the late winter or spring evenings. It fills the air with a rich melodic harmony.
We didn’t have any resident Blackbirds in our garden here on the outskirts of Murray Bridge South Australia until a few years ago. The occasional visitor, yes, but not resident. Now they have moved in and have started breeding. Several times they have used an unusual nesting spot. They fly into a shed in my wife’s nursery through a small gap above the door. They then proceed to make a bowl shaped nest in one of the many empty plant pots we store in the shed. How lovely and cosy – out of the cold, the wind and the rain.
Despite them now being resident I find that “our” blackbirds are quite timid and are rather camera shy. It was with great delight that today I have been able to take some close up shots of both the male and the female (she is a dull brown colour) fossicking for beetles and worms just outside our sunroom window. This makes a perfect bird hide for photography.
- This article has created quite a deal of interest. Read the comments section below for the experiences of other people with Blackbirds.
- Related articles: Do Blackbirds Swoop? An article about aggressive bird behaviour with many interesting comments and observations from readers of this blog.
- For more articles about Blackbirds nesting read
- “Anyone for a Swim? Forget it Baby Blackbird”
- “Hear the Blackbird singing in the morning”
Update #2: A further update on this post was made in July 2015.