Blackbirds and blackberries

by Adam Pasco

Where have all my blackberries gone? And what about my strawberries? And the cherries?

Sweetcorn plantsWhere have all my blackberries gone? And what about my strawberries? And the cherries?

Perhaps the fledgling blackbird (pictured) can provide some answers. From its nonchalant stance and innocent look, I can't believe it's been helping itself. But why else would the birds want to be in my garden unless I shared my produce with them?

I understand the meaning of the word sharing, but I don't think it features in bird vocabulary. It certainly didn't for the collared dove that sat motionless in my cherry tree during June, hoping not to be seen. Only when I got too close to the tree did it give itself away, flying off at top speed. I'm surprised it could still fly, given that it was stuffed full of cherries.

Next it was the potted strawberries, brought into the warm and protected environment of my greenhouse to ripen in time for Wimbledon. When I came to harvest them, bowl in hand, the fruits were gone.

Now it's the blackberries, which are just starting to ripen and will hopefully provide rich pickings over the next month or so. If my eyes aren't deceiving me the ripe ones have gone. Is that blackberry juice dribbling down the beak of that bird up there?

What I need is some netting ... a barrier to keep them away. I've covered fruit with netting in the past but always worry about catching and harming wildlife unintentionally, so this year I tried making do without.

Well, I've learned the hard way. Until the birds in this country learn the real meaning of sharing I'll be forced to resort to netting next year.

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Gardeners' World Web User 22/07/2008 at 13:20

I say let the birds eat the berries. Birds add so much to the garden. In fact I think I'll grow some blackberries just for the birds next year in my garden.

Gardeners' World Web User 24/07/2008 at 15:28

This year has been great for young ones in my garden ive had sparrows,blue tits,great tits,robins and of course the yobish starlings. its been great to watch the feeders everyday. ive been feeding them on sunflower seeds and wild bird seed.the blackbirds,doves and woodpigeons clean up the ground below.ive also got a family of squirrels, my daughter has also named them garden is very small but big in wild life its a pleasure.

Gardeners' World Web User 24/07/2008 at 16:04

I was watching Ma and Pa Blackbird feeding their babies on my cherries last night - it was very entertaining and the blackbird family repay us with their singing for the rest of the year. Fair exchange I think ..... they don't seem to eat the blackberries though. I do chuck out the odd soggy fruits for them and we live in harmony. My little moggie would love to catch a blackbird, but they are far too clever for her, even if she does slide sinuously through the lilac tree. I'm happy about that - she's just caught mice so far.

Gardeners' World Web User 24/07/2008 at 23:13

Putting some low cost supermarket sultanas on the bird table seems to have tempted the song birds away from my fruit this year, but sadly not tempted the pigeons away from the brassicas!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/07/2008 at 23:18

I have had the same problems with Blackbirds. One particular one used to give a very loud Blackbird type "Ha Ha - Beat you to another one" Still they are lovely to see and hear in the garden. Yes the ripe fruits do seem to disappear. Not only birds eye up our strawberry tub - our young yellow labrador saunters by sniffing all the time, and hoping nobody is watching. The joys of gardening

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