I Learned It the Hard Way — Place Your Bird Feeders Carefully

by Brian Governski, Master Gardener

This section focuses on situations of moutain gardening that arise and the lessons to be learned from them. These factors take on different forms whether they are the climate, wildlife, weather, the garden's layout or any combination of these.

We start by getting out the pick, breaking the granite into smaller, manageable pieces. We work the earth, mixing in mulch and compost to achieve a nice loam. Finally, we sow the seeds and place the plants in the ground. All conditions seem ideal for the perfect mountain garden. Then nature reveals the unexpected, those situations we couldn't foresee and those elements of mountain living that take the challenges of gardening to the next level.

Relocate the Bird Feeders

When it's time to put out the bird feeders, take a moment and place the feeders carefully. The reason being that birds love their birdseed. In fact they are rather sloppy while eating at the feeder. Unless some type of seed retainer is in place, birdseed gets thrown to the ground, covering an area much larger than the feeder. This appears harmless, but can have negative and frustrating results for gardeners. Birds aren't the only animals in the forest that love birdseed. Ground squirrels, tree squirrels, chipmunks, voles, bears and deer love seed too. This can present a problem to mountain gardeners. First, squirrels, voles and chipmunks gather below the feeders waiting for those little morsels to fall. They ravage everything in their path searching for the seeds. This includes any tender plants and greens in the garden. This holds true for deer and bears too. Their damage can be on a greater scale and have a longer lasting impact. Bears are not tidy when it comes to tearing down feeders. Their size can, and will, tear any garden to pieces.

Realize that birdseed does what it was meant to do, grow plants. Most birdseed is still viable, ready to grow new plants with a little soil and water. And birdseed thrown to the ground will germinate! This brings unwanted plant life into the carefully planned garden. By relocating bird feeders, traffic and the impact mountain
critters have in the garden will be minimized. This doesn't guarantee they won't enter the garden but decreases the chances of them spending time there. Finally, germinating birdseed will grow outside the garden, leaving the garden to the desired flowers and plants. Both mountain gardens and birds can now be enjoyed together. Have Fun!

If you have further questions, please contact the CSU Extension Office to speak with a Master Gardener or Extension Agent.