new issue on salenow!

Nature Will Have Her Way

Story by

An elusive boobook owl reminds JUSTIN RUSSELL that pest control in the garden is often best left to the birds.

As I write, a boobook owl is making its distinctive “mo-poke” call from somewhere outside my office window. They’re tricky little birds to spot, and for years I thought the call was that of a tawny frogmouth. But it’s not. I recently learnt that frogmouths aren’t actually owls at all, but rather members of the insectivorous nightjar family.

This is doubly good news. I’ve seen frogmouths in the garden, so I can happily lay claim to one type of nocturnal bird to catch insects, and another to catch mice. Does pest control get any easier, or more pleasant?

Of course it doesn’t end there. A family of swallows have set up home in a shed. They provide hours of entertainment with their acrobatic flights in pursuit of insects, as does a colony of superb fairy wrens, flitting about the shrubs. A pair of willy wagtails are flat strap at the moment hunting food for three hungry chicks that are rapidly outgrowing their nest under an eave. Everyday there are magpies pecking grubs out of the lawn, and a commune of apostlebrids cleaning up weed seeds. Tree frogs sit on the window frames at night catching moths. Pedatory wasps hover around the vegie patch looking for aphids to host their eggs.

I could go on and on, but I’ll get to the point. It’s simple really. In a garden where poisons are regularly used, a wasteland is created and pest control becomes ever more burdensome for the gardener. By contrast, in an organic garden, a large chunk of what we call pest control is simply birds, insects, amphibians and other animals simply going about their business without the need for intervention from pesky people. Organic gardeners create diversity. And guess what – in the long run, diversity wins.

The boobook call outside my window is a comforting sound. It’s a reminder that if I take a deep breathe and relax, nature will have her way and everything will turn out fine.


Photo by cskk via