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Jim's picture

Hi everyone. My name's Jim and I live with my wife in Penrith NSW, at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Two years ago I totally replanted my backyard. Apart from a path and three patches of grass, the rest is mulched garden containing eucalypts, callistemons, grevilleas, etc. The garden is now teeming with life, particularly birds which we love.

Unfortunately, a pair of kamikaze blackbirds have decided to turn my garden into a moonscape. I don't mind birds foraging in the mulch to find food but this pair dig quite large and deep holes, (sometimes 60 a day), throughout the garden. I think they might be after the truffle-like fungi that have appeared recently in the mulch.

Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas about dissuading them from turning my garden into swiss cheese?

I love the large variety of birds that visit my garden now and don't want any "scarecrow" solutions that scare all birdlife away, but filling in all these holes every day is really doing my old back in.

Any help would be really appreciated.

bushanwater's picture

I would contact the parks and wildlife in your area about this one if you haven't already. A species Id would be important to them, do you have any pics to post or do you have a positive id?

See Yez

Jennywren's picture

Hi and welcome. Get your camera out and get a proper ID. or search the internet for an identical bird. I am sure some solution could be found but you need to know what you're dealing with first. Good luck. Sounds like youve found the dog of the bird world if they love to dig that much!

onesimus's picture

Only a PAIR of blackbirds?

My garden in Young swarms with them. They are a constant nuisance, digging up the mulch and scattering it on the driveway, paths and lawn. At times they've almost uprooted some roses by digging a significant trench all around the plants.

They try to make amends with their singing but I'd be happier not to have them around. At least they don't seem to deter any other bird life.

They are also a pest when you try to grow soft fruits.

Jim's picture

Thanks for the above responses and I do have an update.

I POSITIVELY can identify them as the Common (Eurasian) Blackbird. I use Simpson & Day's "Field Guide to the Birds of Australia" to identify all my backyard birds. Only the male is black with the female a dirty grey/brown colour.

I've read many articles including one from the Dept of Agriculture that basically says that no ONE solution will work permanently. I had some luck with rubber snakes but that only held them off for a few weeks. The worst day I had saw me filling in over 100 holes including the trench-like holes mentioned by onesimus above.

The good news is that I haven't had any holes now for over 3 weeks. My secret weapon? ..... red wattlebirds. Now my grevilleas are flowering, the red wattlebirds are policing my garden with a vengeance. The downside, of course, is that many other birds have also been chased away and although this is sad, my back is eternally grateful to the raucous-sounding bullies who have, (at least temporarily), ridded my garden of the rats with wings known as blackbirds.

I sympathise with you, onesimus, and I'm glad I live in Penrith and not Young!!

onesimus's picture

Despite their own nuisance factor, Blackbirds help deal with some garden pests.

Areas of garden that need protection from their digging can be treated in various ways. In some places we have covered garden beds with mesh (something like fly screen) and then covered the mesh with mulch.
Susceptible areas of the veggie garden are protected with bird wire until the plants are mature enough to survive without protection.

For most of my life I lived on the coast and didn’t see a blackbird until I visited my in-laws in far western NSW. A couple of years ago I moved to Young. We had no blackbird problem until we started to maintain the garden and improved the soil conditions for worms.

Apart from the blackbirds we seem to have a healthy bird population around our place (an average housing block). So far I’ve identified 25 different species.

Green's picture

We will in the Shoalhaven (south coast NSW) & for the past few months have had Blackbirds nesting in our yard. I don't have any problems with them being here, but my mind boggled with the amount of holes you said were being 'dug' in your yard. I would never have thought they could be like that.
I also love hearing their songs, makes the garden sound alive. Maybe they are not pests here - just yet. The female is sitting on her third set of eggs at the moment, with 3-4 babies hatching each time. I shall try to keep an update of how things go here. BYE.

leemrmg's picture

After years of angst due to blackbirds digging holes in my garden, I have finally eliminated them from my immediate neighbourhood.

The solution was so simple, it seems miraculous.  I simply baited rat traps with cherries.  I caught 6 within a week.  I believe any other red berry will work just as well, eg strawberries, raspberries; even red grapes.  Perhaps even blueberres would work, but I believe they are especially attracted to red.

I have not had a single hole for 2 weeks now! I am so relieved, as my hatred for these pests had reached monumental proprtions!  That chit-chit-chit sound used to drive me crazy as well.

Canonguy's picture

I live near Penrith and have resident Blackbirds. However, I don't have a problem with them. If they want to dig, let them, I can happily tidy up. Sadly, in my area we don't have many natives. Only some annoying neighbours and screaming kids in the middle of the night. My wildlife loving neighbour removed two large trees from his yard where the Eastern Koels would come to every year and in the past few years Blue-faced Honeyeaters would occasionally call from in the morning. Gotta love people. (NOT!) I wish I could trap half the neighbourhood and dispose of them rather than the birds in my area.

Give me the wonderful song or chatter or any call of any bird (even a koel) any day. Even if that happens to be 04:00hrs.

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