Subscribe Now to the Digital Almanac Monthly Magazine!

How to Keep Birds Out of the Garden

50% Off Flash Sale While Supplies Last at! Use Code AFFB5261

Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Your rating: None Average: 4 of 5 (10 votes)

Birds are a welcome addition to the garden, but if the crows are devouring your corn and the jays are eating your berries, there are ways to deter them and live in harmony.

  • Have a party! Scary balloons (vinyl balls with menacing faces) are available at garden centers and on-line. Make your own using shiny Mylar balloons, and secure them to posts around your garden. Tie shiny ribbon (or surveyor's tape) from the balloons for more effect, and don't forget to move them every few days.
  • Build a barrier. To keep nibblers at bay, place inverted crates or disposable cups (with the bottoms cut out) over vulnerable seedlings. Chicken wire can also be laid over a seedbed. (As seedlings grow, raise it slightly using boards or bricks.) "I made a cone out of window screen cloth for my tomato plants," says a gardener in Maryland. "When they got too big for the cones, I switched to netting."
  • Cast a net. "Netting is the only certain way of deterring birds," says Pippa Greenwood, author of American Horticultural Society Pests & Diseases. To prevent snagging on twigs or thorns, some gardeners construct an inexpensive framework to cover their plants. Use bamboo poles, fence posts, or tall stakes. Drape the netting over the framework, so it reaches the ground, and anchor it to the ground with bent wire for wind protection. If your garden rows aren't too long, consider making a V-shaped “tent” above the row to protect seedlings until they are rooted well enough to resist birds pulling on them.
  • Throw some line. Fishing line or black thread, artistically woven over your garden, will stymie bird pests. "Birds don't like wires," says Wagner. "Put posts around your garden and weave the thread or line over your crops."
  • Go high-tech.  Birdbusters ( makes a sophisticated screech owl to frighten even the bravest of birds. The owl spins in the wind and has a microchip inside that emits the sound of an attacking hawk.
  • Go low-tech. One oldtime cure was to soak a few quarts of dried corn in whiskey, and scatter it over the fields for the crows. They would get corned!
  • Remember the benefits. Although some birds can be nuisances, they are also hardworking garden allies, munching away on annoying pests like snails, slugs, and harmful insects. Keep this in mind, and you may feel more generous toward our feathered friends.

See our Crows page if you are specifically dealing with crows in the garden.

Related Articles





The birds that frequent my

By Starsgazer

The birds that frequent my garden are more of a help than hindrance - plus they're beautiful to watch.

I am having trouble with

By Dorothy Hermeling

I am having trouble with Gambol Quail eating my newly planted pansies, marigolds, and basically anything that they can get to on my planters and urns in my back yard. The planters are on low posts, and the urns are up off the ground, so rabbits are unable to reach the plants. I have tried cayenne pepper and water, Tobasco and water, moth balls, CD discs, but to no avail. I have lost two sets of beautiful plants, so I am in need of what to do other than to go to silk plants which my HOA does not approve. Thanks for any help you might give.


Dorothy Hermeling

Perhaps try bird netting

By Almanac Staff

Perhaps try bird netting propped up a bit? Or maybe a motion-detector sprinkler? You might also try something that would imitate a predator, such as the bird-repellent balloons with what look like large eyes on them (to resemble a raptor or other predator, which includes foxes, coyotes, and bobcats)--various brands are available. Or, try a plastic owl (choose one that moves, via wind or other method), found in the pest repellent section of garden centers. I'm not sure how good the Gambel quail's sense of smell is, but if you or a neighbor has a cat or dog (also predators of quails), you might try putting tufts of their fur (collected while the owner groomed the pet) around your plants (refreshing every so often), in case that helps to repel them. Or, you might lure the quail to another location--quail like bird seed, too, so you might try setting up a feeder away from your plants. Good luck!

My chickens are free range

By Gregg Gingrich

My chickens are free range and we have fenced off the gardens to keep them from the tomatoes. My problem is that the chickens dig in the mulched areas of the yard that is nicely landscaped. When they are finished they have spread the mulch everywhere and tore the weed barrier under the mulch.Any sugestions?

Other than using fencing or

By Almanac Staff

Other than using fencing or limiting where your chickens roam, here are some options: You might try installing a motion-detector sprinkler near the beds. The chickens might not like the spray of water and move elsewhere. Some gardeners have had success placing deer netting over the mulch (securing it to the ground). You could probably use vinyl poultry netting or bird netting as well.

This is a great post, and a

By Anf Howard

This is a great post, and a problem everyone is having, especially those trying to protect their precious crops. Not only that, who wants bird poo all over their house, yard, and car? Not me. If you are having a problem deterring birds, you should check out Bird-X. They have an array of products you can use to keep those critters from taking over. Check out some of their products, I am sure you will love the results.

I don't mind the birds coming

By chicky401

I don't mind the birds coming around for the most part, but lately they have been a little bit of a nuisance. They have been breaking branches off of my plants which has been driving me crazy.

They got all the branches off of one of the tomato plants and it just started to grow back. But now they are out breaking off the top branches of my healthiest cucumber plants. Never really had this problem before, but apparently it is a problem this year!

Usually I welcome them, but I really wish I could get them to stop tearing up my plants like this.

im putting in a vegetable

By Berry Blast

im putting in a vegetable garden this spring and want to put a teacup bird feeder by it will that make the birds go to the feeder rather than my plants or will it target the plants rather than the feeder food or will they go to the vegetables after the feeder food is gone?

Installing a bird feeder

By Almanac Staff

Installing a bird feeder nearby will inadvertently attract birds to your garden. Try using some of the tips above.

Post new comment

Before posting, please review all comments. Due to the volume of questions, Almanac editors can respond only occasionally, as time allows. We also welcome tips from our wonderful Almanac community!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

2015 Special Edition Garden GuideCooking Fresh with The Old Farmer's AlmanacThe Almanac Monthly Digital MagazineWhat the heck is a Garden Hod?