Having feathered friends visit your yard can be a delight – or a disaster, depending on what they do. If they stay to their assigned areas – non-fruiting trees, bird houses, and feeders, all is well. If they decide to help themselves to your garden or fruit trees, however, they can wreak havoc. Here are several tips to help deter birds from your crops, leaving them free to flutter around the areas they are more welcome.
The key to keeping birds away is motion and variety. Birds are intelligent little creatures – they are smart enough to learn to recognize humans they see again and again, and will certainly figure out that your scarecrow is no harm if it stays in the same position for weeks on end. Keeping birds out of your garden is an ongoing task, requiring you to move and change things every few days to keep those birds off-guard.
Bird Netting: Bird netting is very effective and is perhaps your least gaudy solution. Nets can be purchased in many sizes and colors, and will protect fruit trees, berry bushes and vegetable gardens when properly affixed. These continue to work without variety or motion, requiring the least amount of work.
Fake Predators: Fake owls, hawks, and snakes. Again, without movement these items will appear harmless. Move fake snakes around your garden each day or two when you water. Bring fake owl or hawks for a few days and then remove for a few days. When you bring them back put them in a new area to keep birds guessing. When these items are not being used, store them out of site so birds do not become accustomed to them. Fake predators will be even more effective if they are somehow affixed so they can sway or move if there is wind.
Reflective and Metallic Objects: Birds typically stay away from reflective surfaces, so anything you can add to your yard that will give off some shine and movement will help keep birds at bay. Try strips of tinfoil, long metallic streamers, or the tape from old cassettes. These can be attached to trees, nets, trellises, tomato cages, or staples to dowels and stuck in the ground, and work best with a slight breeze. Again, they work best if moved around every so often. Another great idea is to string together old CDs or CD-Rs. Their larger surface areas create a great reflection as they twist and spin in the wind. Metallic pinwheels are a tried-and true method, though they should also be moved place to place. When doing so, vary their height in the ground, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, so maintain variety. A few more ideas are strung-together disposable pie plates, Mylar balloons, or anything else that can provide movement and reflection.
Menacing Objects: Scarecrows are the old stand-by for scaring off birds, but everyone has heard of ineffective scarecrows that become perches and roosts for the very animals they are meant to deter. The key with scarecrows is to constantly change them up – alter their location, height, even clothing. If they can be set up to sway with the wind they become further effective. Do not let them stay in the same place for too long or else all your efforts will go to waste. Another item that can be found at some gardening stores are large balloons with scary eyes. These too will need to be varied to maintain their efficacy.
Bells and Wind Chimes: Wind chimes and bells, especially those that are metallic, can also help to ward off birds looking for a free meal.
Again, the key is variety and motion. Change things up in the evening or at night so the birds will be less likely to watch you making changes. Also, begin your bird-deterring tactics before things become a problem. If these items are in place before your berries and tomatoes ripen, your feathered friends may never even know there is food being protected, as they’ve never had the chance to explore. Help them to make a habit of keeping out of your garden.
If all of this seems like too much to bother with, or if you decide you want a more reliable solution, choose the bird netting for your garden. Not only is the garden netting more effective than other methods, but it allows you to choose a technique that meshes well with your existing garden décor.