London (change)
Today 20°C / 15°C
Tomorrow 20°C / 13°C

Snails and song thrushes in the garden

Posted: Monday 8 March 2010
by Adam Pasco

When a letter starts "I must strongly protest at an article written by Adam Pasco..." then I do wonder what I've done wrong.


Close-up of somebody picking snails off the side of a compost binWhen a letter starts "I must strongly protest at an article written by Adam Pasco…" then I do wonder what I've done wrong.

Let me set the scene. You can't find much more of a bird lover than me. Just take a look at my garden, and the way I garden, and you'll see what I mean. Feeders provide seed and peanuts for birds all-year-round. Plants with fruits and berries are grown to provide birds with fresh pickings - especially my cherries and soft fruits, where I'm sometime lucky to get a look in! Apple windfalls are left beneath trees for blackbirds to peck at.

Hedges and thick shrubs provide shelter and nesting sites - I could show you at least four sites around my garden where sparrows, blackbirds, robin and wren (I think) nested last year. Water is provided in a bird bath and large terracotta saucers on the patio, and I don't use any pesticides around my garden at all.

But to be organic you do still need to control pests to prevent damage to both edible crops and ornamental plants. So when, in the last issue of Gardeners' World magazine, I advised readers to collect and dispose of snails found in compost bins, I didn't imagine this would upset anybody.

But apparently by recommending the disposal of snails I am personally responsible for the demise of the song thrush throughout the British Isles!

The thrush is my favourite garden bird, but surely to be politically correct I'm not now expected to collect snails from inside my compost bin and distribute them around the garden in the hope of attracting a song thrush to feed.

My garden, like many others, provides ideal breeding conditions for snails, but this isn't actually the main reason I garden. So if I do come across snails I do dispose of them, although I hasten to add that I never use pellets for this job.

Just for the record, I regularly spot beautiful thrushes in my garden, and the remnants of snail shells indicating that they've been feeding, so clearly there are still snails around.

The thrush is my favourite garden bird, but surely I can't be expected to collect and distribute snails around the garden in the hope of attracting a song thrush to feed? Am I really in the wrong for disposing of snails I discover?



Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Snails and song thrushes in the garden
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 08/03/2010 at 19:14

I beleive your in the right adam ,i regulary dispose of snails from my garden i move them to the end of the entry at the back of my back garden i spend probaly 30 minutes every fornight checking my garden and removing the pest rather then killing them then then simply place them on the rockpile 20 metres down the entry at the base of a large lorrel bush i must say the birds have a feild day ive often seen a robin blackbird thrush dining on them as soon as im far enough away like a buffet prepared for them ,i like to think im helping them

Gardeners' World Web User 08/03/2010 at 19:24

I am sure people have been disposing of snails, just like you, and me, for decades. I too have the lovely thrush visiting my garden regularly,has been for years. I am sure they will continue to do so, even tho snails will continue to be dispatched to snail heaven by me.We will never find every one that is lurking in dark corners, so our thrushes will still have their favorite snack.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/03/2010 at 10:38

I "dispose" of anything living in any garden I am working in by finding it a more suitable home, if it is liable to eat my produce or spoil my flowers. It is easy to grow plants for the slugs and snails which they prefer and then collect them and put them under a hedge, where they will be happy till a predator lower down the foodchain, like a bird, can find them. There is no need to be cruel to be a successful gardener. I love it when a tame robin or blackbird joins me while I am gardening to pick up worms - luckily all the gardens I work in have very fertile soil.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/03/2010 at 10:42

I agree with you! We are all god's creatures and should look after each other.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/03/2010 at 10:50

snails are slime and Disgusting

See more comments...