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The Cruelest Thing I’ve Ever Done

I made a really cruel choice a couple of years ago. Yes, worse than becoming a schoolteacher. It was this: I had J put up bird netting all around the garden.

It makes for a really cheap fence, so when it came time to fence up our mini-orchard, guess what we did? Yep. More bird netting.

Now, what is the purpose of bird netting? If you’ve read the same websites and product descriptions that I have, it’s to keep birds away from bushes, trees, etc. so they can’t eat the fruit.

But that’s only partly true. See, the implication is that the birds will fly into the netting, figure out they can’t get through, and fly elsewhere.

That’s a nice theory, and holds well for most birds. But what “they” don’t tell you is that sometimes birds get caught in the netting. And if you don’t see them in time, they will struggle so hard that they eventually kill themselves.

This has happened twice to us. The first time was last year, when a wren-type bird (call me for your next bird-watching group outing or Audubon society meeting) got tangled in the netting on the south side of the garden. As B went to bury it – he has to bury all dead animals that he encounters – I suggested to J that maybe cutting off the excess that hangs down from the top might solve the problem. He did, and we have not had any more dead birds around the garden. Yet.

The second time was maybe three weeks ago.

“There’s a dead owl stuck in the bird netting!” B yelled as he exploded into the house.

Its poor foot was impossibly tangled in the bird netting, and it had struggled so hard that it had ripped the netting down from the cedar post it had been stapled to. Of course, just like with the first bird, I had to hear all about how evil bird netting is and how therefore we should just take it all down and waste those $200-$300 we spent on it. Like I didn’t feel bad enough already.

Again, J went around and cut off all the excess (both birds seemed to have gotten caught in two layers of bird netting). In addition, we are going to attach 25-year weed barrier at the top along the north side of the orchard, since it’s right next to the woods and birds are more likely to be flying in from that direction.

If I had to do it all over again…oh, but that’s a subject for another post. Long story short, if I had to do it all over again we wouldn’t have a garden so large, and we wouldn’t have bought all those fruit-producing plants. See video below.

My point: if you care about the lives of animals, don’t use bird netting as a fence.


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