Scaring the Birds

Birds have always been a problem for gardeners. Many old gardening books describe the damage that birds caused to the Pleasure Gardens, but the biggest problem was the damage caused in the productive fruit and vegetable gardens.

Since at least the medieval period children have been given simple wooden scarers and told to go off and make a lot of noise.

At my displays i encourage children to use my bird scarers- and they can make quite a racket!

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The so-called football racket is far older than many people imagine- it is shown in a medieval painting of a leper. A wooden rattle is much more affordable than a metal bell.

The renowned diarist, John Evelyn, wrote a book about gardening. In it he included pictures of the tools that a good garden would need. He included a a rope hung a series of scarers made of four feathers stuck in clay or a potato maybe. I use a potato, but that may be an extravagant waste of good food!

Bird Scarer

The scarecrow may be thought of as fairly recent invention, but the Duc de Berry’s Book of Hours suggests otherwise. One painting shows a scarecrow dressed as an English archer, enough to scare the French peasants and the birds!

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Another method to catch birds is the use of bait to entice them to a net and certain doom. The birds would not go to waste; they would be eaten. Bird lime, similar to using a very strong glue, may also be applied to posts or branches to catch birds that sit on them.

It certainly adds a different point of view to the song words’

‘Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…’

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I am a garden historian, but a practical one. I resarch how gardening was carried out in the past, rather than just researching gardens. It can be very interesting. Some things that I learn seem to be rather unbelievable. Some other methods are still very practical. Visit my web site- www.historicgardener.co.uk

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