Watching birds flitting in and out of your garden can be a wonderful sight. Blackbirds in particular can be a lovely sight! These UK Garden regulars are identifiable by their black plumage and bright yellow eye ring and beak. But when the blackbirds in your garden begin digging the soil around your plants, they can quickly turn from picturesque visitors to persistent pests! Thankfully, there are some actions you can take to solve this problem in a humane and non-expensive way. Below we will look at the easiest, quickest, and most effective ways to stop blackbirds digging in the garden.

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Why Are Blackbirds Digging in Your Garden?

Blackbirds eat worms, insects, and grubs. When they are digging in your garden, they are looking for the underground inhabitants that make up their natural diet. Unfortunately, their strong beaks and insistent search can result in the roots of your plants and flowers being damaged, not to mention the destruction they can cause to lush lawns. Small plants and seedlings can also be tossed aside as they seek out their next meal!

How Does Blackbirds Digging Harm Your Garden?

If blackbirds are particularly energetic in their digging, they can end up wrecking the roots your plants have developed. Their food search can even root up smaller plants entirely. These worm-hunting antics can also be responsible for holes popping up in your pristine new lawn! Added mess, bird droppings, ripped leaves and stems can also be a regular cause of the upset.

For these reasons, you will want to look into some effective ways to deter blackbirds away from your plants. You can do so by introducing deterrents that will guide them away from your planting areas and hopefully towards other food sources.

How to Stop Blackbirds Digging in the Garden?

There are various options to tackle the problem of Blackbirds digging in your garden. These are all inexpensive, easy to do, and quick to accomplish. And hopefully, they will soon see the bird’s harassment of your favourite plants put to an end!

1 – Offer An Alternative Food Source

This may sound strange to you at first. If you are trying to protect your garden from blackbirds, why would you entice them with another food source?

Blackbird on a Bird Table
Blackbird on a Bird Table

Well, when looking for a source of food, birds will head for the easiest snack. So, consider putting in a bird feeder or bird table (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) where the food is presented to them with easy access. Offering blackbirds an easy alternative food source will mean they will be less likely to resort to digging in the soil and disrupting your planting.


2 – Plant Some Protective Plants

You can look into planting some dense border flowers such as wildflowers, poppies, and marigolds.

Dense Patch of Marigolds
Dense Patch of Marigolds

These will provide an attractive addition to your planting areas and will deter blackbirds from progressing further through the patch.


3 – Invest in a Visual Deterrent

You can purchase decoy hawks, owls, cats, or dogs which you can place in your garden to act as scarecrows for birds.

Fake Owl to Keep Birds Away
Fake Owl to Keep Birds Away

The effectiveness of these deterrents is variable, but it may be worth a try. Your invading blackbirds may decide to head elsewhere if they spot a predator on the prowl. You can choose between a cat and dog-shaped toys and signs to place on the ground. Owl-shaped ornaments (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) can be placed on ledges or exposed branches. You can even use a flying hawk kite which will soar above your garden in the wind.


4 – Use Butterfly/Bird Netting or String

Protect your plants by placing the string in diagonals across your planting areas to make it harder for birds to dig there.

Bird Netting to Protect Strawberries
Bird Netting to Protect Strawberries

Alternatively, make use of bird netting (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) to keep the blackbirds out of certain parts of your garden. You need to be vigilant with bird netting and ensure it is a good quality product that is installed correctly. Poorly applied netting can end up trapping birds and small animals.


5 – Put Chicken Wire Around Your Plant Sections

Discourage blackbirds from travelling into your planting sections by placing chicken wire around your planting sections at ground level.

Chicken Wire Fence to Protect Planted Areas
Chicken Wire Fence to Protect Planted Areas

Although they can easily fly over it, they will be less likely to hop across to these areas from other parts of the garden. This may not be the most attractive solution, but you may find it to be perfectly effective.


6 – Place Reflective Items Near Your Plants

Placing light reflective items near your plants that will move in the wind will help to ward off blackbirds from that part of the garden.

Blackbird Eating a Worm on My Lawn. CD Bird Scarer (inset)
Blackbird Eating a Worm on My Lawn. CD Bird Scarer (inset)

When they register the movement of these items highlighted by the reflective light, they will be more likely to keep away. You can hang CDs from tree branches or place pinwheels on the ground. These won’t add to the aesthetic appeal of your garden but may help in warding off the birds.


7 – Noise Deterrents

Some noise deterrents on the market will do an effective job of scaring birds away. But you should keep in mind that it is not just birds who will be scared and annoyed by them. Pets and neighbours may not appreciate the loud bangs that arise.

Ultrasonic Animal Scarer
Ultrasonic Animal Scarer

There are some ultra-sonic alarms (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) on the market, although how effective they are is debatable. They will also affect other animals who find such high-frequency noises unpleasant.


8 – Automatic Sprinkler System

Auto sprinklers are a great idea as they are motion-sensored and will activate as soon as you have any unwanted visitors.

Motion Activated Sprinkler System
Motion Activated Sprinkler System

When the pests arrive in your garden, the sprinkler system (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) will spray fine jets of water over the garden which will scare away the blackbirds.


9 – Nematodes

If blackbirds are tearing up your lawn, it could point to a more serious problem and mean that you have an unhealthy population of grubs under the surface which could ultimately cause other issues.

Nematodes
Nematodes

One way to prevent the blackbirds from hunting these grubs is to remove them. If you add some nematodes (Amazon link – opens in new tab) to the lawn, they will take care of the grub problem from below and help keep your lawn healthy.

Conclusion

To stop birds from digging in your garden there are plenty of easy-to-apply methods you can choose from. The simplest may be just to invest in a bird feeder. You can hang in a different area of the garden to tempt blackbirds away from your plants. You can also make use of old CDs by hanging them from branches to scare the birds away entirely. Relatively low-cost investments in the problem can include predator-like deterrents, chicken wire and birds, and butterfly netting. These are all straightforward to set up and may solve the problem entirely.

A creative and attractive solution may be to start planting dense flower borders. This will deter birds from moving further into your planting areas to dig for their food. The more complicated you make it for the birds to get their food, the more likely they are to move on in search of easier pickings! If you find that it is not blackbirds causing the damage but it is in fact squirrels, we have the solution for squirrels too!

Why Blackbirds Dig in Lawns Infographic
Why Blackbirds Dig in Lawns Infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“Motion-activated sprinklers are great for deterring all pests until we have a hosepipe ban!”

“A bird feeder will not only protect your garden from blackbirds, but it will also attract other birds for you to watch and enjoy!”

“Too many holes in your lawn show an underlying health condition so the presence of blackbirds may be a good sign so that you can treat the area!”

“If you use an ornamental predator to scare the birds, make sure that you move it around the garden periodically, so the blackbirds don’t get used to it!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Are blackbirds good for the garden?

No, blackbirds are not good for the garden. They will often dig holes in lawns looking for food, which can ruin the appearance of your yard. Additionally, they may eat some of your plants or disturb other animals that you have in your garden.

Why do blackbirds dig?

Blackbirds dig for a variety of reasons – one of the most common is to hunt for worms or grubs. They may also dig in order to create a depression in which to soak in water, or to build a nest. In addition, blackbirds sometimes scratch at the ground as part of their courtship ritual.

How do blackbirds hunt for worms?

Blackbirds hunt for worms by listening to the sounds of movement underground. Their incredible hearing allows them to pinpoint where the worms are hiding, and they use their long beaks to extract them from the soil.

Blackbirds are opportunistic predators, which means that they will eat whatever is available to them. This makes them particularly well-adapted to living in cities and suburbs, where they can take advantage of the abundance of food sources. Worms are a favourite prey item for blackbirds, but they will also eat insects, fruits, and seeds.


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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