Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Permaculture Tips: Bird Feeder Sunflower Seed Catcher

From Organic Gardening “Weekend Garden Projects”

Bird Feeder Sunflower Seed Catcher
From Organic Gardening “Weekend Garden Projects”

A Permaculture Tip is an idea that is derived from observing and interacting with nature.  It is simple.  It is safe.  It is effective.  It helps build a sustainable system of agriculture and life in general.  If you have any Permaculture Tips you would like to share, please let me know.  I will post it here, give you the credit, and post a link to your blog or website if you have one.  Email me here: kitsteiner@hotmail.com

Attracting birds to our yards and gardens is an essential component of non-chemical pest control, it gives birds a reliable supply of food especially in the winter months, and it is just fun to birdwatch.  While we often attract birds with birdbaths and birdfeeders, we are hoping that they will also stick around to dine on some of those insects (bugs, beetles, caterpillars, etc.) that can wreak havoc on our plants.

Now, for those of us with birdfeeders, how often have you seen that one picky bird that knocks dozens of seeds out to get that one seed they are looking for, all others falling to the ground?

In general, I don’t mind this too much.  The seeds that fall to the ground are usually eaten by other birds, doves or jays that are too large to land on the birdfeeder, or squirrels that we can hopefully keep off the birdfeeder as well.  The more birds hanging around, the more secondary pest control.  Also, the more animals, the more manure which is always beneficial. (see my post on free bird manure)

The only problem are the sunflower seeds.  Sunflowers contain a chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants.  The scientific term for this is allelopathy.  Both the seeds and shells can inhibit growth of many plants, grass (lawns) included.

Blue Jays are notorious for knocking out seeds.

We can either use birdseed that have no sunflower seeds in it, or we can build a sunflower seed catcher.
The sunflower seed catcher is a simple solution.  Just hang a dome-shaped squirrel baffle upside down from the bottom of the bird feeder.  Attach an eye screw from the bottom of the birdfeeder.  Attach a S-hook to each end of a wire.  Attach one S-hook to the eye screw and one S-hook to the upside down squirrel baffle.

Birds and squirrels can go into the squirrel baffle and eat the spilled seeds.  When all the seeds are empty, we can simple pour the shells out.  Dump the shells in a place that you don’t mind inhibiting plant growth.  The chemicals will eventually degrade over time.

1 comment:

  1. The messy winged-eaters spill lots of seeds to the ground which can make life very easy for mice.

    House mice are a bit of a problem, especially if they have a good food-source right outside your house!