Keeping Birds Off Berries
Berries are delicious and nutritious, it's no wonder that wild birds are attracted to them. Keeping the birds off of your berries and other garden plants can be a daunting task. There are several different ways to keep birds off of berries but none of them are fool-proof. The only really successful way to keep your garden and other areas free of birds is to build a cage around it. I'm sure it is easy to see how this method is not ideal for most berry lovers.
Humans have been trying to keep their gardens and farms free of nuisance birds for thousands of years. In that time there have been only a few upgrades to the technology. The best and most widely used practices today are identical to the ones used centuries ago. Motion, noise and most importantly humans are the best known deterrents for birds and other pesky animals.
Using Nets To Keep Birds Away
Using nets is one of the most effective ways to protect your berries from birds. The net creates a near impermeable barrier between your berries and marauding birds. There are two ways to use netting. Simply draping it over your berry plants of using a framework.
A mesh net draping your plants will keep birds from getting at the berries but may leave some exposed and could also damage your plants. A more effective way is to use a frame or ropes to hold the nets up off of the berries. Whichever way you choose be sure that the net completely covers the plants and that there are no openings. Birds are very intelligent some are known problem solvers.
How Smart Are Birds?
Common Berries In Home Landscaping
- Strawberries - Strawberries are a good ground cover, make dainty little flowers and produce delicious strawberries! These plants are commonly used to fill in low areas of home gardens and farms.
- Blueberries - Blueberries grow on a bush that can ranged from 24" to over 6' tall! These bushes are a great addition to any landscape but remember.... in order for your bushes to produce berries you must have two different types of blueberry bushes or they won't pollinate!
- Blackberries - Blackberries grow on a thorny vine that can send up dozens of new shoots every year. This plant is often incorporated into hedgerows or grown like grapes on a trellis.
- Raspberries - Raspberries are very closely related to roses. The plants grow in in a similar fashion as well, creating a bushy shrub that resembles both a rose bush and a blackberry hedge. Raspberries grow worldwide and are cultivated throughout the range.
Scarecrows: Do They Work?
Scarecrows are one of, if not the, oldest methods of scaring birds away from berries and crops. Scarecrows are used by farmers and gardeners around the world to protect crops ranging from berries to grains. The iconic stick man dressed in old clothes is easily recognizable as it stands vigil over farms and gardens.
The word scarecrow conjures up many different images ranging from the kindly Scarecrow in The Wizard Of Oz to more sinister versions in modern horror films. The oldest surviving book from Japan, which dates to the 8th century, has a character called Kuebiko who is a scarecrow. Kuebiko is portrayed as a deity who cannot move yet possesses all the knowledge known in the world.
- Kuebiko- is the Shinto god of knowledge and agriculture. He is represented by a scarecrow who cannot walk but has awareness of everything. One etymological translation of the name means "one left soaking wet from standing guard over mountain rice fields".
Scarecrows work, especially when used in conjunction with other methods, like loud noises. However, the effectiveness of a scarecrow will fade in time just like any other means of scaring birds away. For best results I recommend that you move your scarecrow periodically and incorporate some sort of loud noise. Gas powered noise makers are one way to do this.
For added effect place streamers and/or shiny objects on the scarecrow. The motion of the streamers will help the birds believe there is danger present, at least for a time.
Birdfeeders Keep Birds Off Berries
As I began to write this article it dawned on me that while keeping birds away from my blackberries is a good idea I also wanted to attract birds into my yard with a bird feeder. It's kind of funny if you think about it. Most gardeners and home outdoor enthusiasts have a love/hate relationship with birds.
I used several methods in my efforts to scare the pesky birds out of the black berry vines but none were really effective, the birds kept coming back. I used a scarecrow with shiny bits of a broken mirror glued to his shirt and pants. I also used a fake owl that I got from the local hardware store. The two methods proved to work a little but in the end what I think cinched it was the bird feeders.
I love bird watching. Because of this I have several bird houses and feeding stations in my yard, mostly in the front where I can watch them from the porch. One of my stations always has suet that usually contains some kind of fruit. What became clear was that my bird feeder was helping my cause. Many of the birds that liked to eat the berries were being drawn to my feeders.
The black berries are in back, far from the porch but still nearby to my bird stations. This summer, I think because of my efforts to keep the birds off the berries, the feeders were busier than ever! By offering another readily available source of food the birds were easily scared away from the berries. I had to refill them several times a week and I'm sure it's not because of squirrels. In the future I will continue to try to scare birds away from my berry patch and I will also target the berry eaters when I buy more food for the feeders.
Fake Owls And Hawks Scare Birds From Berries
Fake owls and hawks are an extension of the scarecrow theory for keeping birds off of your berries. The intention is for the threat of predators to keep unwanted birds away. Like all the other methods it does have some affect but one that can quickly wear off. Birds are smart, they can't be fooled for long. For best results move the fake owls once a week. Make sure that it is visible from the berry patch or garden and can wiggle in the breeze. For added effect place reflective tape or other shiny objects near the fake hawk to draw attention to it.
A fake hawk, owl or other predator can be an effective tool for keeping birds off berries.
Tips For Keeping Birds Off Berries
- Movement - Movement can scare birds away. However birds can get used to the same motion if they learn it won't hurt them.
- Shiny Object - Shiny objects scare birds. The flashes are startling. Use foil tape or pie pans to add a bit of sparkle to your bird deterrents.
- Nets - Nets are probably the best way to keep birds off berries but the come with their own hurdles. Nets may damage your crop, trap and kill birds accidentally and are less suitable the larger the garden or farm.
- Noise - Noise is well know to frighten many animals, including humans. Just like movement, scary noises lose their effectiveness over time.
- Predators - Adding a predatory presence in the berry patch can help deter birds. A fake owl or hawk or maybe even a real cat could be just the thing to scare birds away.