How to Keep Birds Out of the Garden

Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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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 (www.birdbusters.com) 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.

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Comments

I don't mind the birds coming

By chicky401 on July 2

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.

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