Birds like many of the same foods that we grow for ourselves, and they don’t have the good manners to leave anything behind for others. Tactics from row covers to scarecrows can thwart winged attackers, and you can also plant a few treats to lure them away from the crops you’d like to keep for yourself.
Cover berry bushes by ¾ inch to deter birds from pecking the fruit. Build a frame to keep the netting 30cm from the tips of the branches to prevent birds from reaching in and tacking the netting to the top and sides. Also, use nets to deter birds from snatching ripe cherries. Dwarf trees are so difficult to cover.
Protect row crops like strawberries from birds with ¾-inch mesh mounted over tires. Tie the ends of the net around stakes and anchor the sides with bricks or stones. You can also use the tires to support sheer fabrics or floating row covers to protect crops from insects. Be sure to dig in or securely weight down the edges.
Keep birds away from fruit trees. Nothing deters those pesky intruders like dangling aluminum cake pans. If you line them up in pairs to make noise, you don’t have to worry about finding nibbled apples or peaches when you harvest them.
Enlist the help of kids to build a vintage scarecrow filled with straw. It will be more effective if you hang streamers made of shiny or reflective material from his arms. Keep birds on the alert by frequently changing the scarecrow’s location, pose and clothing.
Don’t wait until the crops are ripe before installing scarecrows. If you do this, the birds will already be familiar with your plants and will be more difficult to deter.
Rubber snakes and lizards tied between the branches of the fruit trees deter birds from approaching them and you can take them to the vegetable garden after fruit picking.
Make a snake by cutting a piece of tubing and placing it in your grass snake shape. Birds will steer clear. Stuffed animals, which you can buy for spare change at flea markets, are good bird repellents and also look cute in the garden. Move them from time to time so the birds don’t figure out the game too quickly.
A plastic or inflatable owl or hawk perched on a roof or fence can deter many destructive birds, mistaking them for a real predator. Baits are sold through specialty catalogs and in garden centers.
Paint a few dozen walnut shells bright red and sprinkle them over the strawberry bed before the berries ripen. By the time the fruit is ready to harvest, native birds will have learned to steer clear of these inedible red balls.