How to Keep Birds Away From Your Garden

Tips for Keeping Birds Away from Your Garden

April 14, 2017
Blue Jay
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Birds are a welcome addition to the garden, but if the crows are devouring your corn and the jays are eating your berries, here are a few ways to keep birds away from your garden.

How to Keep Birds Away from Your Garden

  • Have a party! Scary balloons (vinyl balls with menacing faces) are available at garden centers and online. 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.
  • Go high-techBirdbusters 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 old-time 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. Here are some tips for making your garden more bird-friendly.

With these simple solutions, you should be able to keep birds away from your precious crops and flowers!

If you are specifically dealing with crows in the garden, see our Crows page.


Reader Comments

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I just wanted to let the person, i think its susan french... that the "CD" Idea works fabulous in my sunflower garden.

Birds in gardens

This is funny. People have a hard time believing finches can destroy your garden. I’ve watched them for two weeks now . It is amazing. Fattest little bastards you’ve ever seen. I’m trying cd’s and streamers now. If doesn’t work I’ll shoot them

Crows\Robins Stealing Mulch

I try to keep my flower beds in pristine condition, but every once in a while, I'll have a few robins or crows make their way into these beds and they actually steal small mouthfuls worth of my mulch. The mulch I purchased wasn't cheap. I'm afraid if I install netting, I won't be able to remove any future weeds. What am I to do?


For the past week we have been woken early by crows banging and pecking against our patio window. Covering it in scratch marks, droppings and sometimes blood, so they must injure themselves. Have tried scarecrow and scaring them off but they still come back. Any ideas please.

Birds eating pots

The stupid little sparrow's eat my POT'S. First time I had a really big pot with a thick rim and the pot flared out with sort of a ridge. They sat on that and ate a hole about 6" x 4" Had the rim so thin the pot was not good so I took it to the back by the water for them so they could enjoy and leave the rest of mine alone. Oh, no. Didn't touch it then. It was clay and had a green glaze on it and I had even spray painted clear over that. Now they are working on the regular clay pot I have.

Chipmunks and sunflower seedlings

Having a problem with chipmunks eating my sunflower seedlings ! They actually pull the out by roots and gnaw on the stalks. This is so disappointing to find them like this. Can I root the sunflower stalks to salvage them?

I have chipmunks, squirrels,

Robin Sweetser's picture

I have chipmunks, squirrels, and porcupines wreaking havoc in my garden too so I can sympathize! In an attempt to salvage whatever I can, I try to root anything that gets broken off. I take a lazy approach and just make a new clean cut and pop the broken bit into a glass of water. 9 out of 10 things root and can be replanted. I’m pretty sure I have done this with sunflowers with some success. Give it a try!

Plastic Wrap to cover Carrot Seeds Planted in Container Outs

I'm worried that birds, rabbits, insects and squirrels will all get into my newly sown carrot, chard, and radish seeds. Can I cover the container that I planted them in with plastic wrap to protect them? Should I poke holes in the plastic?

Protecting Seeds

The Editors's picture

The plastic wrap would be no match for a hungry squirrel, so we would recommend using something a little more sturdy, like window screening or hardware cloth (a screen made of metal). If it’s fastened securely to your containers, the critters shouldn’t be able to get in. Don’t use bird netting in this case, as it can snag animals’ feet too easily and won’t block insects. 

Keeping birds away from your garden

I beg you to remove the suggestion involving fishing line and thread. Those and similar things (baling twine for one example) get entangled around birds' legs and the harder the birds try to get free of it, the more entangled they become, often ending up with it wrapped around their wings and entire bodies. Many birds of many species have died horrible, lingering, deaths due to such items. The Montana Osprey Project has been trying to educate the public about the hazards to birds (not just ospreys) posed by these items. They have seen many cases of bird deaths from them and have even posted a photo (it is on their Facebook page, I THINK) of one osprey totally wrapped up in baling twine that it had picked up somewhere and brought back to the nest. When that bird was found, it was dangling from the nest, dead, wrapped in the twine. It was the male of a pair of birds and it had died dangling below its nest at the same time its mate was incubating their eggs on the nest above him.

Fishing line and thread

The Editors's picture

Hi Tricia, thank you for your comment and for bringing this to our attention. We have removed the recommendation about hanging fishing line.

Keeping Birds Out Of Garden

An easy solution and usually free! Go to the barbershop and ask the barber to save the hair clippings for you then sprinkle these in your garden! wild animals of all kind are skiddish around humans and if they smell one close by they will leave!

Tomato farming and its challenges

How can i control birds from pocking my tomatoes?

Tomato cages, netting, or

The Editors's picture

Tomato cages, netting, or wire mesh will keep birds away. Creating movement with streamers on stakes or something similar can help. Also, be sure to offer a bird bath or source of water nearby as some birds are just thirsty.

I have a pair of Eastern

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

The Editors's picture

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

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?!

Try Vinegar, should keep them

Try Vinegar, should keep them at bay. Comment is a little late, but oh well, maybe this helps other people too.

Was told that the birds are

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

The Editors's picture

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

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.



The birds that frequent my

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

I am having trouble with

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

The Editors's picture

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

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

The Editors's picture

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

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

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

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?