Over the past years I have observed something interesting that I could have never thought of on my own, even tho it is quite simple.
When I first came to the farm there was not a single tree growing on the land and there no birds. Today there are lots of trees and its impossible go without seeing several different species of birss everyday.
When I planted just a few 1 meter tall mango trees from a nursery, suddenly more birds arrived.
Why would birds suddenly arrive if the young mango tree has no fruit for birds, nor does it have a canopy or big branches for the bird to make a nest. The young tree was nothing more than thin stick with a few leaves.
The answer was quite simple. The bird needed a place to sit or perch high off the ground.
The ground is quite dangerous for birds. There are numerous predators of birds on the ground such as snakes, lizards, and cats to name a few, anyone who has chickens knows chickens like to sleep or roost on sticks high above the ground safely away from predators.
For a long tine I observed the birds and their behaviors sitting on the young tree.
I observed that the bird used this small tree to be low to the ground, but not low enough to be attacked by predators.
By being slightly higher off the ground, but not too high the bird can scan the ground for any predators or other dangers.
When the bird is sure there are no predators it checks the ground for any food, perhaps a worm or insect crawling on the soil between the grass.
Then it quickly swoops down, takes the worm and flies back up to the small tree to eat its food in peace.
As I planted lots of more trees similar to the small mango trees the frequency of birds doing this behavior increased.
The moment a tree or shrub was about half a meter to 2 meters tall birds would go on it to sit.
Trees taller than about 2 to 3 meters would be frequented less, but if the tree has low branches below 3 meters the birds would sit on the lowest branches.
Perhaps this range is simply from the fact that 1 meter high is enough to escape and see predators, but low enough to see small insects or grass seeds on the ground; anything higher and it would become difficult to locate insects on the ground.
I am not a bird expert, so I could be wrong but this is simply what I have observed living on the natural farm with birds constantly around me.
The most amazing part about is that wherever the birds perch on trees or sticks they also poop.
This poop gives fertilizers to the trees as well as adding diverse microorganisms to the soil.
But the most important part is that there are also seeds of trees and plants in the bird poop.
These seeds will sprout and grow up as wild trees. These trees are usually trees that provide food for birds and sometimes humans like for example guava.
The above created a feedback loop.. because more trees grow from seeds in bird poops there will be more perching trees for birds. The trees that grow with fruit also attract more birds who feed on the fruit. And as more birds are attracted more bird poops drop rich with seeds which allows more trees to grow that in turn attract more birds.
When the trees grow more dense and bigger birds will also make nests and lay eggs.
All these wild trees “planted” by birds require zero effort by the farmer and these will trees can easily grow without need for weeding, watering, or fertilizing.
While some of these wild trees may not directly provide food for humans, they can still be pruned to create biomass for other fruit trees or used as firewood or their shade can be used to grow shade tolerant vegetables and small fruit trees underneath.
Actually just after finishing writing the article I read a bunch of academic papers on reforestation and back in the 19998 they had already learned and observed what I had on my forest-farm.
In fact they recommended placing “artificial perching sites” (a fancy word for wooden sticks) on areas to be reforested.
Al tho its good to place wooden sticks for perching I do not recommend adding nesting boxes or birds feeders. Except for sticks these artificial additions may make birds more lazy and less adaptable to living in the wild. Bird feeders can also increase the spread of diseases among birds as they will all feed on the same food in close encounters.
I hope that after reading this you can appreciate more birds on your farm for their valuable ecosystem benefits.
We need all the help we can get from nature to restore the Earth.