Or rather, sparkly things blowing in the wind make birds uneasy, and they won’t land near them, and munch on your garden. “I don’t know why we didn’t put these in years ago, says Lotta, of the Dearborn Community Garden.

Not that they don’t love having birds around, adds Lotta. “All kinds of animals migrate through here. We have the orioles come through on their way from here to there from someplace.” The point of the sparkly streamers, she says, is to keep them away from the young plants. “They eat the tender things,” she says. “And we like the tender things too. Don’t we all, really.”

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Heather Smith covers a beat that spans health, food, and the environment, as well as shootings, stabbings, various small fires, and shouting matches at public meetings. She is a 2007 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a contributor to the book Infinite City.

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