Wicklow gardeners encouraged to feed birds to aid pest control

Gardening enthusiasts and vegetable growers in Wicklow are being encouraged to feed their local bird populations over the coming months to ensure they are around in summer to play a vital role in pest control.

Bird expert Patrick Croke says that several common bird species are invaluable for eating the kinds of caterpillars, moths and larvae that can ruin a gardener’s year.

“For gardeners and farmers, birds are helpers, not pests – in fact, they play an important role in balancing the local ecosystem,” said the Technical Officer with Connecting to Nature – a new Irish company that specialises in all-year-round bird food as well as wild flower seed.

“When insect populations rise in summer time, birds swoop in like the cavalry and feast on them,” said Patrick.

“In fact according to the Smithsonian’s Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, birds reduce the pest insect population by almost 30% – and can significantly reduce the need for insecticide, which can only be a good thing.

“But the birds won’t magically appear – making the effort to invite them in at this time of year will pay dividends in the summer.

“It’s also important to be sure we are feeding the birds the right food for the time of year that match the requirements of their lifecycle. 

“As we move from winter towards spring we need to start moving from the fat-based food we were feeding them in winter to one that is more protein-heavy.

“We will shortly be entering the mating season, and they will require good proteins to grow good feathers and eggs.

“Connecting to Nature’s Robin and Songbirds Seed Mix, which contains mealworms and fruit, offers the perfect blend of the right nutrients that those birds need now as the mating season approaches.

“The robins and song birds in particular are vital to controlling the kinds of insects that can be found in many commonly grown vegetables and flowers.”

Connecting to Nature is the brainchild of Julie Power, whose family has been in the seed business for six generations, and it aims to improve our feelings of wellness.

“The World Economic Forum has published research that the happiest Europeans are those who see the most bird species in their day-to-day life,” said Julie.

“Studies have shown that greater bird biodiversity can make people more joyful. Feeding birds is a very good way of feeling closer to nature and bringing wildlife closer to you, and Ireland has a wonderful array of small wild birds that you can feed.

“You don’t have to be in the countryside to connect with nature, all you have to do is create an environment that consistently attracts birds and bees.

“After the experience of Covid lockdowns, we have a new awareness of the mental health benefits of connecting to nature, a renewed interest in our living world and improving our gardens for the benefit and love of wildlife.”

See connectingtonature.ie for more details.

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