Pest Guide – Birds
Protect Your Cannabis Crop From Birds
You’ve designated the perfect spot with lots of direct sunlight for your garden. The best outdoor marijuana strains for your climate and geography is in the ground ready to germinate. The work here is done for a while, or so you thought.
Outdoor growers encounter a variety of challenges from Mother Nature including too much or too little rain, extreme temperatures, hurricanes, wildfires, birds, rodents and insects. Some of these challenges will be encountered before the marijuana plants have begun to mature. It is important to be prepared to protect your seeds as they germinate into seedlings. What is the largest threat to cannabis during the transition from seed to sprout? Birds.
As you will also likely conclude for yourself, sewing cannabis seeds outdoors in the soil is not advisable. Although there may be creative ways to protect your outdoor garden from birds, cannabis seeds aren’t always cheap so don’t take the risk. Please follow our easy to follow germination guide to ensure you don’t lose your seed investment to a bird’s morning or afternoon snack!
Pros & Cons of birds
Keep in mind that not all birds are bad for your outdoor cannabis seed garden. Whether a bird is beneficial or detrimental depends upon what it eats. Birds of prey, like owls and eagles, are natural predators to other invasive pests such as mice and rats. Your cannabis crop adversaries will change as the growth cycle progresses. As plants mature, small birds that are the enemy today could become an ally in the future.
It may surprise you to learn that birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs and these little monsters may eat up to half their body weight in seeds per day.
Spotting a Bird Problem: Signs of birds
With approximately 10,000 different species of birds in the world, first identifying the visitors to you garden may seem a little daunting. Let’s first narrow this down by classifying by what they prefer to eat. Some prefer meat, even in the form of other birds while others choose fish. There are also fruit, insect, mollusk, sap, nectar and even snake eaters. Fortunately, a grower only needs to be concerned with a small portion of that number, seed predators.
Granivorous birds are those that prefer a diet of seeds, but many will also eat grubs, caterpillars, aphids and other pests if offered the possibility. These feathered creatures often pose a large agricultural and financial threat since it is possible for flocks to destroy entire crops of strawberry kush thc or high cbd plants. Birds aren’t really that selective, especially when it comes to which strain you’ve left out for them to nibble on!
Looking for a thick, cone-shaped beak that they use to crack open seeds can help you to identify them. A large variety of these birds can pose a threat, including: bobwhite quails, hemp linnets, magpies, morning doves, nuthatches, passenger pigeons, ringtail pheasants, starlings, tree sparrows, and more.
Short of actually seeing these birds eating your seeds, there are telltale signs of winged visitors. The first to look for is bird droppings on and around your plants, which is a clear indicator that there have been visitors. Another sign to watch for is turned up dirt where birds have dug for bugs and seeds. In some cases, it is actually bugs that the birds are after with the seeds being just a casualty of the hunt. Should either of these clues be present, it may be time to take preventative action to secure your crop.
Protecting Your Plants from Birds
Determining the best approach to take will vary based on your budget and space restrictions. Another factor will be the severity of your problem. Fortunately, there are very good and inexpensive deterrents for birds. The secret is to create both a physically and visually unappealing environment that changes as time goes on.
Use a Net
Probably the most effective solution is to place a barrier between your seeds and the birds. Netting can be tied to stakes around your growing area. Butterfly netting, rather than bird netting, is a better choice since the smaller holes reduce the chance of birds and other small animals getting tangled or trapped. Freeing a live or, worse, a dead creature is not a pleasant task. Be sure to pull the net tight then anchor the covering to stop wind from carrying it off. A tight net will reduce the chance of anything accidentally getting caught and waiting for you to discover it.
Another idea is to consider building a cage surrounding your bob marley strain plants, and then affixing the net to that cage. This is a good double-layered method of protection that will keep many more than three little birds out of your hair.
Not just a Fall decoration, scarecrows can be a practical addition to the grow area and are fun to make. Build your buddy to look as human as possible. Garb him in bright colored shirts, jackets, and a tie – the crazier the better. Who says your scarecrow needs to be a guy? A brilliant printed skirt or dress could also add some lifelike movement to your scare. When it comes to facial features, keep it as real looking as possible. Eyes, nose, mouth and even facial hair will enhance the ruse. Also adding a scarf, hat, mardi gras beads, really anything to alter the scarecrow’s appearance over time, will increase the effectiveness of your creation.
It is very important to not forget to occasionally move this stuffed vagabond to different locations so the birds don’t become used to its presence. Studies have learned that these are key practices to the success or failure of your scarecrow.
This is a great time to get rid of old compact discs lurking in the closet. Disposable aluminum takeout containers and pans work well too. Create dancing light simply by grabbing some string then hanging the reflective objects wherever there is enough space for them to twirl and flash the sunlight. Don’t hang the CD’s directly from the branches of your autoflower blueberry or skittlez strain plants. You will have much better luck, and reduce damage to your crop, by hanging from nearby tree branches of stakes you’ve placed in the dirt.
Birds distrust any type of movement, especially when they do not recognize the source. Your goal is to keep them uneasy about the area. Create a variety of motion by making streamers from shiny ribbon and flagging tape tied to a stake or fence line where a breeze can catch them causing the streamers to flutter in the wind. Using different materials and lengths for the streamers will create a variety of motion and speeds to warn off unwanted visitors.
Post deterrents in the form of natural predators like an owl, eagle, or hawk. Survival instinct will cause smaller birds to avoid the area so as not to be eaten. These decoys will need to be repositioned every few days to keep potential feeding birds too nervous to risk entering the area.
When shopping for your predator, look for life-size statues with a large amount of detail in the way of reflective eyes, feather detail and coloring. If you prefer to go high tech, decoys with sound, lasers and motion activation can be purchased online as well as at many large garden stores. Some models are even solar powered.
Put out the right kind of seed buffet by providing a nearby alternative food source. While this may sound the opposite of what you should do, it can be quite effective. For the most part, birds will eat whatever is most accessible and convenient. A birdseed mix with both large and small seeds, some with shells, will have the greatest appeal to the widest cross-section of invaders. Barley, corn and wheat are other good additions.
Accommodate as many different kinds of birds as possible by using a combination of a tube feeder and pecking scatter tray. Place the feeders within sight of your grow area, but not so close that the birds consider your planted seeds and seedlings as part of the snack bar. This access to an easy and abundant food source should help divert attention from your regular seed plot.
Leave the Weeds
When possible, do not destroy natural sources of food for the birds. The idea of weed seeds takes on a more traditional meaning by leaving native plants on the outskirts of a grow area. This will encourage birds to choose the more familiar food source and leave your cannibas seeds alone. Elimination of surrounding foliage could send them right to your plot.
Keep in mind that birds are both smart and natural problem solvers, especially when the reward is food. Should the effectiveness of your deterrents start to diminish, simply change the look of your grow area by rearranging the layout and location of discouragements.
It is important to remove these defenses once your seeds have sprouted. The birds you once tried to keep out can now help protect your crop by keeping the colony growth of other pests, like ants and aphids, under control.
Protecting your cannabis crop from birds and other invaders can be easily managed with a little bit of good old-fashioned ingenuity. Whether it is a netting barrier system, scarecrow and other visual discouragements, or just providing an alternative food source, there are viable solutions available to the outdoor marijuana grower.
The Bottom Line
The key to success is observation. A wise grower will stay vigilant and take note of what strategies work and make adjustments to those that do not. Following these simple tips will protect your crops from damage during the sowing and seedling stages. It is possible to effectively deter birds humanely until your cannabis plants are well established enough to live with them in harmony.