Thursday, January 2, 2014

Food Forest Upgrade Project: Add More Habitat

Over the holidays I got a bit obsessed with building bird houses and feeders.

I've never been much of a bird watcher (though I am an honorary member of the Audubon Society, thanks to my guitar); however, I've become very interested in how they interact with the ecosystem.

The forest provides cover and nesting areas for birds. Every day, the birds will roam far and wide, fill up their bellies, then return to the woods and leave their rich droppings at the base of their arboreal homes.

It's a good trade, and it's something I need more of in my fledgling food forest. Most birds provide more in pest control than we appreciate - enough so that I don't begrudge them a few fruit here and there.

The little birdhouse above is the first one I ever made. It's built from recycled pallet wood with a hammered out #10 can for the roof.

I also added a little initial plate on the back:

I went on Amazon and bought a cool set of letter and number punches like this. They work pretty darn well, though it's not easy to line them up perfectly by eye. The copper is from a piece of scrap pipe. I snipped out chunks and hammered it flat to make little plates for my birdhouses.

Here's the whole back:

Not the best photo, I know, but I already gave the house away so I can't take another one.

I'm building more for my yard - I actually boughta book on building birdhouses (which I never thought I'd do) to ensure I drill the right size holes and have the right nest spaces for a variety of species.

Along with adding nesting spaces, I'm also adding feeders to the yard and I also built one for my mom for Christmas:

That's now hanging under the mango tree in the Great South Florida Food Forest.

I may also add a birdbath to the front yard.

Along with building more space for birds, I'm going to create a lot of space for solitary bees, plant a bunch of flowers for the butterflies, and hopefully add a bat house... but those are posts for another time.

I love the winter - I get a chance to mess around with projects that aren't related to planting and harvesting.

Can anyone think of other wildlife that would be worth bringing into the food forest?

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At January 2, 2014 at 1:37 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

If your book has plans for a Bluebird house, they eat lots of bugs. When I lived I Tenn. I could get slab boards for free. These are boards cut from the outside of a log that still have the bark on them. I built lots of bird houses out of the slabs. They blend in very well with the tree. I think Bluebird houses need a 11/4" hole with no perch.

At January 2, 2014 at 3:37 PM , Blogger rycamor said...

What about lizards? AFAIK geckos are mainly bug-eaters. Of course, you don't want iguanas, but they are big enough to hunt down.

At January 2, 2014 at 3:39 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

I'd definitely like bluebirds around - we saw a few last year. Not common, but if I provided shelter they might become more so. Great idea.

At January 2, 2014 at 3:39 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Yes, good idea. Stick, log and rock piles ought to be perfect.

At January 2, 2014 at 5:50 PM , Blogger George G said...

Interesting post, thanks.
It has inspired me to make some bird boxes (I have been thinking about making some for a while)
I like the idea of their droppings being good fertiliser.
I read that pigeon dovecotes were once common for the fertiliser and squab meat.
And the pigeons could free range for food.
A full on dovecote would probably be too much work and maintenance,
but general bird boxes like yours would be fine.

At January 2, 2014 at 6:21 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Yes, a dovecote would be a lot of work... but boy, the meat is good. I wonder how hard it would be to get them to move in on their own.

At January 3, 2014 at 4:05 AM , Blogger George G said...

I think the variety of pigeon they use for squab and egg production is the domestic pigeon, a descendant of the rock dove.
Feral city type pigeons are escaped versions of domestic birds.
I think they free range this type, in countries like Egypt for meat production.
If you had feral types around your area I guess they would move into a small garden dovecote, if you fed them, to start with.
I have been feeding some native pigeons for years, but they just make a rudimentary nest from a few twigs.
You would have native species too, but not sure if they would take to a man made nest box, or be in any way useful for meat or eggs.

At January 3, 2014 at 5:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a market for "vintage" birdfeeders/houses . . . just saying. :-)

At January 3, 2014 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

If you build it....they will come.

At January 3, 2014 at 12:36 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Okay. I've seen what we call "mourning doves" around here. Not much meat on them. No city pigeons in this area... those would definitely be worth eating.

At January 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Good idea. Maybe it's time to build a LOT more. I do enjoy reclaiming material that would otherwise hit the trash, so along with being faux vintage, they're also recycled.

At January 4, 2014 at 7:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . . Put me down for one if you do! :-)

At January 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

I might have to build one just for you.


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