Feeding garden birds – good or bad?

Hermanus Bird Club

Most people derive immense pleasure from watching birds devour food they have supplied. Feeding birds also has the undeniably positive spin-off that it may start many people on a life-long interest in birds.

But, in reality, is feeding birds doing them a favour or does it merely serve to gratify our own human pleasure?

This question is asked and dealt with in an article by Charles and Julia Botha which was first published in Africa Birds and Birding seven years ago, but recently re-published in adapted form in a number of South African magazines.

There are many overseas studies regarding the consequences of feeding birds, the authors state.

One concern raised by a research study is that regular bird feeding may create a population level that cannot be sustained by the natural food supply in the area. Thus birds are encouraged to settle where they cannot support themselves once feeding stops.

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Soil test

Nebari Bonsai

All things roughly equal, I decided to test the condition of the roots of these two Chinese Quinces; both 3-year-old cuttings, dug in March ’15, and severely headed back; both above and below. They’re both in roughly the same volume of soil, but here’s the difference:
White pot has soil that is bark, lava, turface, 1:1:2
Blue pot has soil that is lava and akadama, 1:2
Here is the one planted in akadama.


And here is the one planted in turface:

Let’s see how they do:

In October ’15, here are how the two grew…side by side all year long, same exposure, same feeding schedule, and no pruning. The akadama tree grew a full foot taller:

The big reveal was last week. To be honest, both root systems looked similar.


Turface mix:





Akadama mix:


I’d say the akadama roots looked a bit healthier but I’m definitely biased.

I’m also biased…

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