Selfish Giant?


Another feathery raider!
An avian invader!
     Leave our nect’rines alone,
     Or you’ll promptly be shown
I’m as nasty as Darth bloody Vader!


I love to share the road with fellow-cyclists, but not if they overtake me while I’m struggling uphill in first gear. Likewise, I love to share our garden with the colourful, tuneful birds that abound in South Australia – but not if they eat of the fruit of the nectarine tree! As soon as Mrs SG and I noticed beak-marks in some of the ripest-looking nectarines we flung a net over the tree and secured it at the bottom. But the tree had grown since last harvest season and the net wasn’t quite big enough, so there were some gaps. Too small to worry about; or so we thought.

Later the very same day as I passed the tree I saw three very small birds, smaller than sparrows, inside the net! What to do? I grabbed the hose, turned on the water and directed a fine spray over the top of the tree, hoping to drive the little sods down and out the way they must have come in. The water rattled them, but they just kept flying from side to side, hanging on to the netting.

Not to be beaten, I brought out the stepladder and sprayed downward with greater force. No result. Then I remembered making cardboard cut-outs in the shape of a hawk’s silhouette many years ago, and mounting them above the driveway where we parked the car, to deter aerial faecal attack. I brought out the bright red lawn-rake, resumed my position on the stepladder, and waved the rake over the tree in what I hoped was a hawk-like motion.

Two of the birds cottoned on quickly, flew to a low branch and eventually swooped out and away. The third was either thicker of much smarter, but as my rake-waving arm was beginning to ache he left as well. Then I put away the ladder and rake and crisscrossed string across the opening that had afforded access and egress. I took one of the nibbled nectarines, trimmed it and ate it. Good!

This morning I was admiring the tree and saw something fluttering… Aaagh! Another one! Or quite possibly a recidivist, because after a couple of bursts with the hose he took the hint and went home. Now the hole is crisscrossed with Christmassy silver tinsel that glitters in the sun and moves in the wind.

But I can’t help feeling guilty. The birds are just trying to make a living and have no idea that our garden is our territory, where only we have rights to hunt, forage, mate and nest. We, on the other hand, can expect to harvest 5 or 6 kilogrammes of fruit at best, and at exactly the time when the supermarkets are flogging them off at A$2.99/kg.

Am I behaving like the Selfish Giant? The thought disturbs me. Please, someone out there, reassure me that I’m a decent human being!

One thought on “Selfish Giant?

  1. When I first planted my strawberries I carefully netted the whole strawberry patch, but birds still found their way in and I became persona non grata with the feathered population, who shouted and screamed at me to let them out when they’d finished their dessert. Between the birds and the snails, , the pickings for humans were small. So I gave up, reasoning that if I stopped netting them the birds might take slugs and snails as their first course. It worked! And after the meat course they had far less room to top up with strawberries!


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