Birds and Top Dressing

I have noticed in the past few weeks birds have been digging around in my potted trees. :-1:t2::frowning_face:
My observations have shown that the birds seem to like the trees with top dressing over any other containered trees in my garden.
@Sam @ryan @cardoza What is happening at Mirai and how do you, or would you address this situation?
Anybody chime in with your ideas and if you also have similar issues. :evergreen_tree::metal:t2::grinning:

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I got some mesh fence from the hardware store and I cut up squares of it to put on the soil. The holes are 3/8” or 1/2” which, theoretically, the birds could pick through, but for whatever reason it has kept them at bay.

I got the idea from this blog post from Greg Brenden. It is mostly unrelated to bird problems but the last picture talks about it and his solution which is a bit more elaborate.

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I haven’t used it for birds, but I’ve used shelf liner as a mesh to hold soil were I need it. There’s a foam version that has enough openings to allow air through, but still hold the smaller particles of soil.

I just finished using it for a root over rock attempt. It held up without any sign of degradation for 18 months.

That’s a photo of the liner being removed. It was durable enough, that I could tie it down with zip ties, but soft enough that I could use scissors to cut. Hope you find something that works for you.

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Thanks for the reply,
I did something similar to one of my trees, its made of galvanized steel and its raised up off the soil about 3 inches.
It looks to me that the birds will still be able to peck around in your tree.
I’m looking for a solution that doesn’t take away from the tree. I’m probably asking a lot for mother nature to leave my trees alone.
Maybe when I win the lottery I can build a Biosphere that creates all 4 seasons :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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My next-door neighbour has three cats which are always lounging around in my garden. They have no interest in my trees whatsoever but it does mean birds and squirrels are not an issue. I get tits and finches visiting higher up in the nearby apple tree in my garden, which I enjoy, but nothing dares come down to my potted trees…except foxes at night, they do sometimes visit and pinch the odd organic fertiliser basket from overflow trees I don’t have up on benches yet. Time to build another bench. :laughing:

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I had the same problem with birds getting into top dressing, as well as eating the fertilizer while living in Chicago . Try rubber snakes. You can buy some cheap ones off Amazon for an easy experiment. It was the only thing I found affectively keeping the birds totally away from my trees. It worked like a charm.

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I’m loving the snake solution! Definitely going to add those to the garden.
Here’s what I have in the garden now, seems to be working. :metal:t2:

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Lol!! That’s also very creative!

Good luck,
Chris

Hi @MtBakerBonsai
What king of birds are they?
I have found they will sometimes go for piles of organic fertiliser, as they find fly maggots under them. Sometimes I feels like they are pulling moss off to wind me up, but sometimes they are removing grubs which could be harming my trees. I try to put food out now to keep them off the trees, and don’t take it too personally when they have a peck as they could be doing me a good turn.

Andy, I have a variety of species here in the PNW.
Steller’s Jay, Finch, Sparrow, Chickadee, Starling, Robin, Nuthatch…
I never see them in my top dressing, they fly away when they hear me coming near.
Also, my “scarecrow” seems to be helping out. :+1:t2:
We also have Red Pileated Woodpecker, but they don’t mess with my trees. :metal:t2::evergreen_tree::grinning:

Beautiful birds @MtBakerBonsai
Mostly blackbird pecking at my trees, but mostly in the spring time.

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I have the same problem with birds raking their feet and knocking all the fresher top dressing off. I cut pieces of plastic gutter guard (see link), place them over the soil, and wire the pieces together. Probably helps with moss formation. Once it gets moss, it may be less attractive to the birds.

https://www.acehardware.com/departments/building-supplies/roofs-and-gutters/gutters-and-downspouts/5732854

Not really a question concerning the birds topic but the top dressing topic. Wouldn’t it be easier to mix the top dressing into the last inch of the soil?
I’m just curious because i have the problem that if i apply my top dressing just on top it always dries out to fast and doesn’t really start growing. In contrast to that if i mix it into the soil it’s growing after a few months and i think the birds can’t pick it that easy.
Is there any major disadventage of mixing it into the soil i don’t see?

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Why? Because that is what we have been taught by Master @ryan.
https://live.bonsaimirai.com/library/video/topdressing-creation
The top dressing will dry until your moss has developed, The sphagnum portion is for stability and to hold moisture for the moss portion to develop. Give it time, moss doesn’t just grow overnight.
Mixing it into your soil substrate would be detrimental to the available oxygen space for root production. That would defeat the purpose of a “free draining soil”
Look at the top dressing like “erosion control”
This pic was just taken this morning from a tree that was repotted on April 1st.
The areas that are free of moss are from the birds digging into my soil :angry:

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I noticed a squirrel mostly only dug in my pots having moss and “dirt” on top so decided to put a layer of pumice about 5/8-3/4" deep on top and it largely deters him/them from digging. Have not had a noticeable problem with birds unless Jays are masquerading as Squirrels when I’m not watching:crazy_face:.

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In the spring, blackbirds, robins and other birds use moss to line their nests, in the autumn through the winter they are looking for insects. I use old cd’s to protect my trees. Birds do not like reflective surfaces. A quick wipe once or twice a week is sufficient to keep them shiny. I got the idea after seeing an old gardener do the same on his veg patch. It works really well. I’ll upload a photo later…