Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who’s been eating my seedlings?

Who’s been eating my seedlings? Just look at those peas... chomped down to the stork.

And these lettuces... chewed down to nothing more than a stump.

Well the Goldilocks of this story, would you believe, are those little cute sparrows. This has been happening quite a lot and has had Melanie and I stumped for some time. Bugs often tend to hang around the vicinity, but we could never find any, nor any evidence of them being there such as silvery trails. Besides we often saw sparrows perched on the sides of the pots pecking away at the insects. NOT! It took Melanie’s keen eye to notice that the little buggers were not eating insects at all, rather they were ripping shreds out of the seedlings.

Photo by Maggie Smith. I tried taking a photo myself but without a telescopic lens they didn't turnout to good. But I think this photo illustrates my point well. Look at the sidewards glance it's giving that seedling.

According to Wikipedia sparrows are primarily seed eaters, but varieties like the House Sparrow that have adapted to life in the big smoke, like pigeons and seagulls, have developed an appetite for just about anything. So be aware your seedlings are on the menu.

As a result a seedling cover is in the making. Stay tuned...


  1. They've not only driven our native birds from their homes but now they're eating our food! I don't have sparrows but I do have rats which have taken off the tops of my very first ever broadbean seedlings. Mongrels! So now I'm covering everthing at night until I can come up with a better solution.

    1. I am glad I don't have your rat problem. That's going to be allot more difficult to solve. Any sort of seedling cover or enclosure is going to have to be sealed. Maybe tie a cat to the seedling table :)

  2. I am in the process of designing an inexpensive cover to protect small seedlings in raised beds. I have a similar issue to yours, Jason, plus the fact that any seedling planted too close to the edge of any raised bed is an instant target for chooks, even with netting thrown over the top. They simply burrow underneath. Plus your "friend" the sparrow also dug up two rows of my freshly planted garlic and left the cloves laying on the top of the soil. Fortunately I had extra cloves growing in the greenhouse and transplanted these as replacements last weekend. I will place the design of this protective screen and the instructions on how to build them on my blog once I have nutted out what materials to be used. It has to be light, strong and deep. Stand bye.


    1. A good option I have found for protecting young plants in the ground is to place a tube around them either made from a milk carton or plastic bottle. see here


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