Gary's taking a break and will return on Thursday. While he's gone, we'll print some of his columns from the past. Today's is from Oct. 29, 1995
Dear Gary: Why are some birds frightened away by plastic owls or scarecrows, while others just sit on their heads and tell shaggy scarecrow jokes? We tried all spring to scare the birds from gobbling up our strawberries and it didn't work!
Dear Maudi: You and the BART folks ought to get together and buy each other a drink.
A few years ago they tried to chase all the pigeons out of the BART stations by draping giant rubber snakes over all the roosting spots.
It was winter and it didn't take long for cold birds from miles around to discover those soft, rubber snakes made great foot warmers.
Plastic owls and rubber snakes didn't fool the birds one little bit. To be an effective scarecrow, you gotta scare the crow.
Birds are frightened by silhouettes of predators. The shadow of a hawk flying over a flock of birds sends them scattering in all directions. An important ingredient is movement.
Just plunking down a plastic owl and waiting for things to happen won't do it. You probably noticed it worked for about two days, then the birds returned in force. That's because the owl didn't move. If you'd moved it to a different
Movement -- remember it next time.
If I used a plastic owl, I'd get two different kinds (or maybe a hawk and an owl) and rotate them in the garden every other day. You might actually salvage a mouthful or two of strawberries doing that.
My way worked better.
I planted my strawberries under my bird feeders. The birds got so busy standing in line at the feeders, they forgot all about the strawberries.
Dear Gary: I have a problem with bird seed sprouting in my lawn.
Is there a way to make those seeds sterile?
Dear Oscar: Spread the seed in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and bake it at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes or so.
Be very careful not to spill any. Spilled seeds are a smelly disaster in a hot oven!
You have to play it by ear. Get the seeds hot enough to sterilize it, but don't burn them.
Most birds prefer their seeds medium-rare.
Contact Gary Bogue at email@example.com; or write Gary, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.