Page 27 - ALG Issue 1 2022
P. 27

Bird feeders on an allotment:
what are the pros & cons?
   We weigh in on the debate around bird feeders on the allotment.
Allotments have lots of intrinsic benefits. They support mental wellbeing by nurturing self-esteem, deliver seasonal sustenance by growing fresh local produce, and improve cognitive function through calming focus.
But your allotment is also an important micro-habitat, helping support a myriad of species, including local birdlife. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of bird feeders.
Should we be encouraging our feathered friends. Are we doing all we can to protect our prize vegetables? Perhaps these goals are one and the same? Find out here.
Attracting birds into your allotment space using a bird feeder often proves beneficial, particularly as the benefits of birds are intertwined with your gardening efforts. In this section, we explore the pros and make a case for why you might welcome our feathered friends:
✓ Healthybirdpopulations support biodiversity
Birds play a vital role in promoting biodiversity in our urban green land spaces, particularly allotments. Along with bees, our feathered friends are natural pollinators. They take seeds from bird feeders and disperse them through their droppings, helping shape the natural world we see around us every day.
✓ Birdwatchingisgood for your mental health
Tending to an allotment is great for your mental wellbeing. After all, growing plays an important role in preventing and alleviating symptoms of stress and poor mental health.
Birdwatching enjoys the same benefits.
Embracing nature is a meditative activity known to improve your wellbeing, so taking time to contemplate the intricacy
of local birdlife is therapeutic for the mind and body.
Alongside gardening on the allotment, birdwatching is widely reported to be a great way to enjoy the outdoors. With a bird feeder, you can support a myriad of species, even when gardening in a more urbanised environment.
Expect to see house sparrow, starling, and the odd bossy robin. Bird feeders on your allotment attract a slice of nature you can enjoy all to yourself.
✓ Birdsdeterpestsfromyour vegetables
Having birds around your allotment helps keep insects and other plant- eating pests under control, meaning you can reduce your use of pesticides and garden more organically.
Some allotment owners worry about encouraging birdlife as their fresh produce might become a snack, but
if you keep your bird feeder regularly topped with nutritious nuts, seeds and mealworms, most birds will leave your plants alone.
Attracting birds into your allotment is wholly beneficial to plant life and your mental wellbeing, but there are some downsides to installing a bird feeder. In this section, we explore the cons and outline some effective solutions to the potential problems caused by bird feeders.
✗ Birdfeedersgetinthe way of gardening
Having an allotment means you have to work hard to cultivate an area rich with vegetables and plant life in a relatively small space — so adding a birdfeeder
to the mix, particularly a ground feeder, might only serve to make your allotment feel cramped and confined.
That said, most hanging bird tables are designed to fit comfortably into small spaces, making these platforms the perfect smart space solution to grow your produce and embrace nature.
Bird feeders on your allotment attract a slice of nature you can enjoy all to yourself.
These tables are elevated and blend naturally when positioned on a low hanging branch or overhanging shed roof, thereby providing much-needed perching space for birdlife without taking up valuable ground for planting.
Food waste might ✗ attractvermin
Bird food might attract pests such as rats, mice, and squirrels when dropped on the floor as waste. This can spread disease around the allotment, as well as encourage other animals to take a special interest in your prize vegetables.
Hanging bird tables could be the solution here too. Why? Because unlike grounded feeding tables, having an elevated platform attracts less vermin by making it difficult for pests to reach food.
However, pesky squirrels are incredibly cunning and are capable of reaching any free food, even in the most difficult of locations. As such, one solution might be to install a guardian, which shields the food in your feeder.
Moreover, if you’re an allotment owner, you’re likely an avid composter too. And if not? Well, you can easily start making your own by recycling kitchen and garden waste in a compost bin. Clearing up waste food and adding it to your compost bin helps support beneficial bugs and allow your garden to grow stronger.
Many thanks to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for providing this article.
      Allotment and Leisure Gardener 27

   25   26   27   28   29