Bet you didn’t know you can tell western bluebirds to eat your pests without telling western bluebirds to eat your pests.

That’s what Sage Hill Ranch Gardens founder, owner, and operator Spencer Rudolph is doing. He’s gone all-in on bluebird housing development in order to invite this sparrow-sized species to reside on the first-generation farm that occupies a mere ½ acre in North County San Diego.

Photo by claudia lam on Unsplash

Rudolph says, “We want to attract the western bluebird because they are extremely prolific at hunting insects, especially during the nesting months.”

Sage Hill Ranch Gardens is a no-till regenerative micro-farm, so attracting beneficial birds to set up residence on the farm makes for a perfect natural solution. “This is one of our approaches to keeping our pests at bay,” says Rudolph. “Since we don't use any types of pesticide, we are also creating a food source for the bird, which in turn keeps the birds around because of the food source.”

Sage Hill Ranch Gardens
Sage Hill Ranch Gardens
Sage Hill Ranch Gardens
Sage Hill Ranch Gardens

What kinds of pests will bluebirds help mitigate, you ask. Rudolph says, “The insects they eat are generally grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, wasps, and pillbugs.”

That’s basically a list of almost all the bugs we don’t want lurking around garden beds. If bluebirds as a solution sounds too cute to be true, consider the progress at Sage Hill Ranch Gardens. According to Rudolph, “we have 12 bluebird houses set up around the farm. This last season we had a noticeable change with our moth and caterpillar pressure, and have decided to build another 10. Since erecting two seasons ago, we now have residential western bluebirds. They bring flocks of hundreds of other allied species of birds with them, it's quite the sight to see in the early morning and evening when they are the most active in feeding.”

Sage Hill Ranch Gardens

Want to know how you can support more bluebird housing development at this sustainable farm? Shop Sage Hill Ranch Garden’s online store or buy direct from the farm stand and take a tour every Saturday from 9am to 1pm. You can also find their produce at restaurants around town like Addison Del Mar, Juniper & Ivy, Mister A's, and Campfire.

For more information about local bluebird conservancy, check out the California Bluebird Recovery Program.

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About the Contributor
Maria Hesse
Edible San Diego's executive editor is a personal chef and lifestyle designer, podcaster on Modern Casserole, amateur pug photographer, grant writer for Media Arts Center San Diego, and co-author of The Intentionalist Cooks. Find her on Instagram @mariafromediblesd.