|Gardening for the Birds|
|Written by Kara Haas|
|Tuesday, 12 June 2012 18:24|
Did you know that gamebirds like pheasants and grouse love fruits and vegetables just like people? We’ve refreshed the Upland Gamebird Garden with a variety of produce for the gamebirds. You can visit the garden near the birds of prey, between the Barn Owl enclosure and the start of the Lake Loop. This year we are growing strawberries, blackberries, watermelon, grapes, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, basil, parsley, and various types of lettuce. All of the plants are organically grown and were purchased at local farmers’ markets.
The garden is the project of a previous intern, Keith McHugh. Keith set up a rain barrel irrigation system that is powered by solar energy. Rainwater is collected from the roof of the barn and funneled into a rain barrel. Energy from sunlight is collected by a solar panel, which you can see next to the barn. The harvested energy powers a pump that drives the water through hoses to the top of the garden, where it rains down on the plants. Watering occurs in the early morning or late evening to avoid water loss due to evaporation from the mid-day heat. For more information on rain barrels, including how to assemble your own, click on the following link: http://michiganikes.org/resources/Chapter-Documents/Rain-Barrel.pdf. To learn more about how to utilize the most rainwater in your garden, visit https://www.raingardens.org/index.php.
All of the gamebirds were fed their first helpings of the produce last weekend, and they loved it. It was served as a salad of sorts, with lettuce, basil, and strawberries. The Northern Bobwhite Quails especially love strawberries, and dug right in as soon as the produce was placed in their enclosure.
Providing the gamebirds with a variety of foods helps keep them happy and healthy. Instead of eating the same type of food day after day, the fruits and vegetables give them diverse tastes and textures, as well as additional nutrients. We will continue to feed different produce to the gamebirds as the growing season progresses. Stop by soon and the gamebirds eat their fruits and vegetables!
Lettuce and strawberry plants in the Upland Gamebird Garden.