The Birds

Use this forum to discuss matters relating to Cacti genera far too plentiful to enumerate. This is where one posts unknown plant photos for ID help.

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The Birds

Post Number:#1  Postby greenghost » Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:18 pm

Anybody have a good solution for dealing with curve-billed thrashers tearing up their cacti (and other succulents). I'm pretty sure that's the culprit, taking chunks out of some really nice plants (Copiapoas, Sulcos, Ortegeocactus, Tephrocactus, and smaller Mamms). This is really starting to be an expensive problem for my potted plants!
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Re: The Birds

Post Number:#2  Postby Gee.S » Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:53 pm

Lots of thrashers here, and lots of small cacti. Never had any issues with them or any other birds. What you're describing sounds suspiciously like rodent damage. Do you have any Harris's antelope squirrels about? If so, look no further.

You might want to sort out whether culprits are diurnal or nocturnal (fresh damage at dinnertime or before breakfast?). If nocturnal, my suggestion is to pick up some plastic rat traps, and bait with raisins near fresh damage. Place traps after sunset and pick up first thing in the morning. Harris's can also be trapped this way, but they are diurnal, so a greater risk of trapping leading to incidental bird slaughter.
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Re: The Birds

Post Number:#3  Postby toditd » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:19 pm

I have lots of curve-billed thrashers around here too, and I have never had a problem with them except for some occasional digging in pots. They've never harmed or taken a bite out of any of my plants. Curve-billed thrasher diet is mainly insects, seeds, berries and fruit (They love oranges!)

I did have a problem with house finches that took a liking to small echeveria, sedum, graptopetalum. I knew it was house finches because I watched them during one of their feedings. I put some bird netting over a frame that I dropped over the pots. (Kind of messes with the aesthetics, though.) The sedum never recovered from the finch damage and most of the others were eventually done in by summer heat.
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Re: The Birds

Post Number:#4  Postby mcvansoest » Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:40 am

We call them bulldozer birds because they mess up the gravel when digging for insects and they have definitely dug at the foot of some cacti, but nothing that ever harmed the plants. Last Fall I had about a week of something picking out Lithops out of a pot, looked like picking damage more than biting damage, but moving the pot under a shade structure solved the issue. Have not had much bird/rodent predation upon my plants here, I guess one part of living right smack dab in the middle of suburbia is the large number of outdoor cats in the neighborhood combined with neighbor's with dogs just about all around us.
Last Fall when the house next to us stood empty for a few months before new people moved in, I had one packrat visit and he/she clearly had a delicate palette, because it only went for young variegated plants or miniature Aloes... and took the occasional bite out of a cactus here and there. Ever since the new people and more importantly their two dogs moved in that rat has not been back.

In the community garden where I volunteer lots of people put small very colorful wind spinner and vanes in their vegetable garden boxes - things that are very bright and move. They also have a bunch of those plastic owls posted on strategic highly visible places - not sure how much help those are, but I have seen them in other places too.
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Re: The Birds

Post Number:#5  Postby greenghost » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:41 am

Thanks for the replies. I may have misidentified the culprits I suppose. I have flushed the thrashers out of the plants on days when I've found damage, but haven't actually seen them do the damage.

There are mice in the area -- though we have traps out. (Plants are located at a business in downtown Las Cruces which backs onto an open area for water retention. There is a fox that lives here, so I suppose that there could be other little rodents I haven't observed.)

My collection includes Haworthia, Echeveria, Crassula, Aloe, Agave, and others, but I've only ever seen the damage on cacti now that I think about it (almost always on small clumping cacti, but also on tephrocacti and once on an little opuntia).
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Re: The Birds

Post Number:#6  Postby Minime8484 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:04 pm

Thrashers do horrible damage to my in-ground and potted plants. They can sniff out any plant with a tuber for miles, live digging at the base of plants in full sun during the mid-summer and expose the roots to the sun to bake to death, and just for fun poke holes in my rarest cacti. They are Evil. I've been gone most of the summer and had to throw thin netting over all my valuable garden spots to keep them from being completely destroyed. I often come back and they've carried plants away! They love pulling ID sticks out and throwing them on the patio too.

There are several large mounds I've added to my yard over the years to provide some relief and drainage for some specialty plants using dig dirt and sometimes mixing in rocks and/or pumice. Thrashers can come in and completely level some of these mounds in a matter of days.

This is not just speculation, as I've caught them at this numerous times. And, apparently they can ID cacti better than me because they zero in on the rarest and most expensive in my collection and pound them to death leaving common stuff untouched right next to it.

They are Evil.
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