We welcome Dr. Katie Sieving who is an expert in avian ecology and behavior and holds a PhD in Ecology, Ethology, & Evolution.
In this episode, Dr. Sieving discusses:
- how to identify birds,
- methods that can attract birds to your garden,
- why birds are important for gardens,
- and how to deter birds from feeding on crops.
Depending on where you live, you will encounter different birds in your garden. To become better at identifying them, find a safe spot to visit on a repeated basis, so you can observe birds, take notes on their behaviors and other characteristics. Over time, you’ll learn about how they react to their environments, what’s important to them, what they’re afraid of and what they love to eat.
To attract birds to your garden, it’s important to have cover to shade smaller birds from larger predators and to have diversity in your plants to satisfy the different functions the birds are looking for.
Among the many benefits of having birds in your garden, pest management is one of the best, since they feed on many harmful crop pests. Another important role birds have is that they serve as indicators of a healthy environment. Organic producers know that the presence of birds means that there is biodiversity on the farm. This is because biodiversity is not as noticeable on farms where there has been high pesticide use.
Although having birds in your garden can be beneficial, for people who grow certain fruits and vegetables, they can be a nuisance. Dr. Sieving explains some of the strategies for deterring birds from foraging such as using sounds or netting.
For more information on Dr. Sieving, visit her website on UF/IFAS. Learn more about her research on using sunflowers to attract birds and research on farmers’ opinions about bird conservation and pest management on organic and conventional north Florida farms.
To learn more about identifying birds, check out UF/IFAS bird and farm research leaflets or visit the Alachua Audubon Society website.
Other great resources include the Audubon Birds App, National Audubon Society Field Guides and the eBook “What the Robin Knows” by Job Young.