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How to Keep Birds Out of the Garden

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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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I have a pair of Eastern

By Sherry Dove

I have a pair of Eastern Bluebirds that keep attacking my windows despite "scare" tape. They also sit on the screens and poop! Any suggestions??

Birds may peck at windows if

By Almanac Staff

Birds may peck at windows if they see their reflection, thinking it is another of their species. They are trying to defend their territory, especially during breeding/nesting. If they are perching on your window screens often, it could be that they have a nest nearby.

If you can, make your windows less reflective. You can try a number of things during this season, such as:

* soaping the outside of the window
* closing the curtain or pulling down the shades
* temporarily adhering translucent plastic wrap to the interior of the window (be careful of children and pets), or using decorative window film
* installing anti-glare window coverings on the exterior

These other ideas may be too similar to the scare tape that you've already tried:
* placing several strips of masking tape on the window
* using stickers of silhouettes of hawks or other predators
* hanging a decoration or sticking a decal on the window

You can also try moving any birdfeeders, etc., that you may have further away from the house.

Good luck!

My trouble isn't with the

By Catrese

My trouble isn't with the birds. I have rabbits and squirrels going after my squash and tomatoes. I like them visiting, but how do I keep them outta my veggies?!

Was told that the birds are

By MillaFit7

Was told that the birds are after the water in the tomatoes due to how little rain we've received this year. Is there truth to this and would a bird bath away from the garden solve this issue or at least lessen the tomato damage?

Interesting theory but that

By Almanac Staff

Interesting theory but that wouldn't nec explain the birds' appetite for ripe tomatoes elsewhere. There are lots (and lots) of ways suggested to avoid this problem: hanging CD disks (singly, near the fruit); covering the plants with bird netting (and, if nec, a framework to support it on), whirligigs, fake snakes, plastic owls, real dogs, aluminum foil on stakes, and fine plastic mesh bags. If you buy a lot of produce in this kind of bag, you can reuse them. Stretch a bag over individual or clusters of fruit—but not tightly; leave room to grown, and secure it with a bag tie. Tuile (ballerina tutu fabric) may serve a similar purpose, but you would have to wrap it and secure it over the tomatoes.

Of course, you could just move your bird bath and see what happens. Oh, yea, and to be on the safe side, pick the near-ripe fruit and let it finish on the kitchen counter.

The CD theory apparently

By PJ53

The CD theory apparently works. I put CD's on strings around my garden and so far so good. I also had at least 2 birds that kept trying to build a nest over the lights on my front porch. Every 15 to 20 minutes, they would bring the stuff to build their nest, deposit it on my lights, I'd go knock it down (no, I'm not mean. I put up with this last year and to much bird droppings for me so I decided no more). I finally put a hole in old CD's and hung them about 8 - 10 inches in front of the lights and no more bird nests.

ME AND MY DAD BOTH ARE HAVING

By RANDY COLSTON

ME AND MY DAD BOTH ARE HAVING TROUBLE WITH REDBIRDS-CARDINALS PULLING OUR CORN SEEDLINGS UP. I HAVE REPLANTED BOTH FIELDS TWICE. PIE PANS AND SCARE CROWS DON'T WORK. TIME FOR WARFARE!

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.

Sincerely,

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. bird-x.com/electronic-bird-control-pages-68.php

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.


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