Sharing your berry harvest with the birds wouldn’t be so bad, if they were actually willing to share. But their idea of sharing seems to entail them taking a bite out of every ripe berry and leaving you with the remains. If you’re tired of battling the birds for your berries, here are some cheap and easy things that you can do to protect them. These tips will work for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and any other berries that you’re growing in your garden.
Trick Birds With Fake Fruit
Have a strawberry patch to protect? Paint a bunch of rocks to look like strawberries. Then, place them around your plants about a month before you expect them to fruit. Once the birds discover the berries are fakes, they’ll (hopefully) dismiss your patch as a source of food long before your real strawberries come in.
Use Reflective Materials to Deter Birds
Scare birds away from your berry vines and bushes by placing reflective materials on or around your plants. When they see (and hear) movement, it’ll scare them away from your garden.
Use a commercial product, like scare tape, which is essentially a roll of non-sticky, double-sided, holographic streamers that you cut and tie to trees or stakes.
Or create a homemade version of scare tape by cutting chip bags into ribbons. The shiny aluminum on the inside of the bags will act as the perfect light reflector.
Reflective materials, like pinwheels, CDs and pie plates, can also be used as a deterrent. Since birds tend to wise up to this trick eventually, don’t put your reflectors out until your berries start to ripen. Then, be sure to put them away as soon as you’re done harvesting. Changing the location of your reflectors throughout the harvest season will also help to maintain their efficacy.
Scare Birds Off With Fake Predators
Some people use decoy owls to keep birds off their berries. A cheaper solution is to scatter fake snakes throughout your garden. Pick up several at the dollar store. Then, place them around your garden. As with the reflectors, it’s best to limit their use to harvest season, so they remain effective. Be sure to let your family know about your bird-deterrent strategy, so you don’t accidentally scare them, too.
If you have a large number of berries to protect, consider using a scarecrow instead. Give him a scarf, or add a pinwheel to his hand to create movement.
Plant More Than You Need
If you don’t want to go to heroic efforts to protect your berries, the simplest solution may be to plant extra, so it won’t be a big deal if the birds get some of your harvest.
Keep Birds Out with Netting
As a last resort, consider using netting to protect your berries from birds. This is the most expensive option on the list, and it also happens to be the most annoying to implement. When you wrap berry bushes, you have to be careful to leave space between the bush and the net, otherwise the birds will just peck at berries through the netting. To net a strawberry patch, you have to build some sort of row cover. This requires time and materials, and can be cumbersome to lift when picking berries. Plus, you have to have a place to store your covers during the off season.
But, perhaps the biggest problem with netting is that it just doesn’t work all that well. No matter how tightly you think you’ve wrapped your berries, birds will find their way in. Mockingbirds are notorious for this. And it’s pretty much inevitable that birds, snakes and small animals will get tangled in your nets, resulting in injury or death.
If you still think nets are your best option, be sure to use netting with a wide enough weave for bees and other pollinators to get through, otherwise you won’t have any fruit to protect.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Protect Your Berries
Birds don’t wait for berries to be perfectly ripe, like we do, so you need to put your deterrent measures in place as soon as your berries start to ripen.
More Help With Birds and Other Garden Pests