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Fierce little warriors in the orchard!

b2ap3_thumbnail_hummingbird-sm.jpgEarly this morning Craig and I headed to our garden to cut some fresh kale and collards for our daily green drink.  We'd almost reached the garden gate when we noticed that a battle was taking place near one of our Montmorency cherry trees in the back of the orchard.  Actually, it was taking place right in the middle of the tree!  We have a bumper crop of cherries on our two Montmorency trees this year, and they've been ripening up very nicely the past couple of weeks.  Since the Montmorency variety are not sweet cherries, but are sour or pie cherries, I've been picking cherries and dehydrating them almost daily.  They're not tasty for eating fresh, but they're incredibly delicious when dehydrated.  I've seen this variety of dehydrated cherries for sale in grocery stores at super expensive prices.


As our cherries were ripening, the yellow fruit was turning orange and red, and I imagine the local bird community was watching with baited breath, awaiting their opportune moment--when the cherries are nice and soft and ripe--to attack!  This morning appeared to be "the day" for an onslaught.  

But we were prepared!  While filming one of our gardening DVDs, we had learned that a great way to protect  cherries from the ever-present bird attacks is to place a hummingbird feeder within each cherry tree.  Our trees are still not fully grown, so one feeder per tree seems to work well.  

So, there at the garden gate we watched to see what would happen.  A couple of birds made their move, diving from the sky into the brightly colored tree--and suddenly we saw some tiny warriors go into action!  They were zipping around, in and out, up and down…and within seconds the larger birds made a hasty retreat.  Later in the morning, I was back in the garden tying my tomato plants to tall stakes, and I again saw another battle, similar to the first one. This time there seemed to be even more of the tiny warriors, and once again they were victorious!  After finishing the tomatoes, I decided I'd better not take our little army for granted so thought I'd give them some relief--I headed over to the cherry tree and picked all of the most tempting cherries.  While I was picking, the tiny hummingbirds would come and go, getting as close to me as they dared, still in their warfare mode.  I am so thankful for these little fellows!  They have saved me so much work!  I don't have to try to put nets on the trees--all I have to do is keep the feeders filled up.  Recently one person wrote and told us that they had not been successful with the hummingbird warfare, so there may be situations where it doesn't work.  Maybe there aren't many hummingbirds in some areas, but I believe that if you'll place the feeders in the trees a number of weeks before the cherries start to ripen, the hummingbirds in the area will claim their territory before the attacks start--and I think you'll be amazed at how protective and territorial and fierce these little guys can be! 

Comments

  • Guest
    Jean Handwerk Thursday, 28 July 2016

    Haven't tried the hummingbird feeders yet, but a question arises. It makes sense to start the feeders a few weeks before cherry ripening, but how long AFTER, now that you've trained the birds as to where to get nourishment?
    ALSO, when ravens broke small branches in my cherry trees this year as they landed to gorge on my cherries, and the robins cleaned off the lower branches, I asked a friend how he protected his. His answer: He shot a raven, hung up the body above the tree on a pole, and the ravens did not return. I don't remember what he said about the robins; maybe they got the hint.

  • Guest
    clyde Thursday, 28 July 2016

    What part of the country is your home?
    In Washington a commercial cherry grower hit on the idea of providing birdhouses for kestrels, a small hawk that terrifies other birds. If he could get kestrels to nest in the houses, their presence discourages robins. Haven't seen ravens around cherry orchards…

  • Guest
    Shari Thursday, 28 July 2016

    yep, Paul of Back to Eden Gardening.com did the dead crow/raven idea
    and said it worked GREAT!

    Ck out his hour long movie for using woodchips/grass/rocks for ground cover and
    then youtube thet phrase to find people ALL the world (1.5m viewing/millions of the DVD.)
    to protect the garden/less wtering/easier weed pulling/LARGE SWEET produce!

  • Guest
    Tamara Schoch Sunday, 31 July 2016

    Thank you for the nice story!

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