N.Z Vineyard Sprays versus Vulnerable Baby Birds

N.Z Vineyard Sprays versus Vulnerable Baby Birds

On the 20/12/21 after a leaf trimmer had been through the vineyard we spotted four fairly newly hatched baby birds deep in the centre of a grape plant. Before we could protect them they got sprayed with fungicide and pesticide etc. Then, bugger me, before we could blink the leaf blower went through, which can toss a nest west or give fledglings an early flight.  So now this particular nest is quite exposed. The fact that the birds are as naked as can be we have, for the past four days, been monitoring their progress, especially after being sprayed. 

Day 2 - 22/12/21

All chicks have survived and are growing at a great rate of knots, putting on weight and popping pin feathers. The smallest of the four is at the bottom of the stack but as the parent bird comes in with food everyone unfolds in the right order to be fed.

Day 4

As  of today 24/12/21, all four birds are sitting up with their heads in clear view. And everyone looks healthy and fed. Over the next few days we will continue the monitoring. Surely, at the no feather stage, and being sprayed on, the little birds’ blood streams, and respiratory systems would have flowed with toxic overload, causing fatal organ failure, but it hasn’t.  Perhaps, though, they caught a lucky break being deep in the vine, covered in leaves.  Would they have been so lucky had the blower gone through first then the spray contractor? Interesting thought.

It will be 9 days before the next spray is due again and hopefully these birds will almost certainly have flown the coup to hide in the undergrowth while learning to fly. The other thought is will they have a healthy life?

If these sprays are so harmful these vulnerable little birds would surely have succumbed to the toxicity of the chemicals after being doused. Interesting, as will the next few days of monitoring.

Each photo, above top right, equals a day.

Day 5 and 6 

Below from left to right - On glimpsing into the nest we see that the youngest of the four has died. The one at the bottom of the picture. We didn't try to remove it, we knew the parent bird would do that and they do. On day 6 we see the little fellow about a metre from the nest. The remaining three look ok, but there's another one that looks a bit dodgy. See bottom right of picture 3.


Day 7, 8 and 9 

The nest we have been watching from the start, has lost another little chick. See first picture on left below and hard left, in the nest, and little obscured. We are not too sure that the other two are that healthy. On day 8, it's raining, the dead bird has been removed, and the remaining two are breathing. Their feathers now showing that they are in fact thrushes. There's not much change between days 8 and 9,(see below).


but all of a sudden the next few days things really change…

Days 11, and 13 - Houston, we are getting set to fly!


Day 14 - Houston, we have left the building!


So there it is. These thrushes were leaf trimmed, wind blasted and sprayed with fungicides and pesticides twice. This was not a scientific study in any sense or form, just an observation of one nest in the vineyard, purely because we were interested in the results. The two youngest birds died and the two oldest survived. 

Other nests in the vineyard

Left to Right below - On day 5 we found a nestful of thrushes just about to abandon ship. They were gone by day 6. 

Day 7 - 27/12/21) We found a nestful of what look like

goldfinches (a bit doubtful as the nest is too stalky, though the internal wool seems in keeping with them) deep in a vine amongst a shroud of leaves, safe from sprays.


Posted: Tuesday 15 February 2022