Welcome to the WineBlog of RedbankJames – birds and trees

Just before I rabbit on about some amazing research I’ve been reading about, I thought I’d better tell you that this isn’t a blog to which you can post replies. I think too many good blogsites are spoiled by the crazies and nasty people who are “me too” in their spitefulness. So this is a nasty-free zone.

In the latest Winegrower magazine there’s a fascinating article about how native trees can deter birds from vineyards. Birds, specifically starlings (the bastards) are a menace. They are so blimmin’ cunning they will flock to the nearest pine trees, then wait until you’ve finished roaming around the vineyard with the shotgun, then fly out into the vines. They get under the nets, and ruin the crop with birdpeck, because the disease and rot can get in to the grapes and taint the wine. Not good.

At Lincoln University’s Centre for Viticulture and Oenology, run by Professor Steve Wratten (I think, the article doesn’t make it clear) research has found that pest birds for vineyards don’t like native trees. In the Waipara valley, they did a comparative study of native bush and adjacent vineyards – field trials which though not perfect, apparently “have the huge advantage of being realistic and relevant to the field situation.”

The majority of birds in the native trees were non-grape eating varieties and did not include blackbirds, thrushes, starlings, silvereyes and mynas. In fact there were no starlings in the native trees. Even though the density of bird life in the natives was the same as non-native tree plantations, they were birds which don’t eat grapes – sparrows, chaffinches, finches, quail, yellowhammers, redpoll, dunnock, paradise ducks, magpies, seagulls, plovers, and harriers, kingfishers, bellbirds and fantails.

The article concluded: An imaginative and artistic landscape plan that could transform our vineyard regions with coppices of native trees filled with fantails and bellbirds, with shaded picnic tables for wine-tasting, will need time to mature. These surveys suggest that planting native trees would not increase the bird problem, and would even probably reduce it. Surely it is time to start planning to green all our wine regions.

Allelujah to that! So glad I’ve already planted kowhai, totara, and 60 cabbage trees.


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