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Protecting Berries from Birds

By David Grist
Teepee

We created this bamboo teepee to protect a long row of blueberries.

If you're trying to keep birds from your crops, any scare device will work for a few days. But, birds are smart and will soon get used to it. Some effective visual scare methods include hanging pie tins, replicas of predators, reflective tape, or large, scare-eye balloons (that mimic the scary eyes of predator birds). Noisemakers, such as radios, are also useful.

But the most effective technique is exclusion. Bird netting protects tree fruit and berries if installed two to three weeks before fruit matures. You can also cover maturing corn ears with paper bags, and lay garden fabric over germinating seedlings to foil the birds.

Bird Barrier

Several years ago, we planted a long row of blueberries to mark the edge of our display garden. The area had always been planted with daffodils, so it was glorious in springtime, but sort of dull after that. To add some multi-season interest, we planted blueberries: creamy white springtime flowers, beautiful foliage in the fall, interesting branches in the winter and, of course, delicious fruit.

Super Hoops

The High Rise Super Hoops can be used to create a 43″-high tunnel.

The birds were quick to discover this new planting, so we rarely enjoyed the summer bounty. For a few years we thought, well, the hedge is a good example of creating backyard habitat for wildlife.

One year, we tried something different. Call us selfish, but a few weeks before the fruit got ripe, we set up a quick-and-easy bird barrier, made with 7-foot bamboo poles and bird netting. We lashed the poles together to create teepees for the row-ends and V-shapes for the center. Then, we draped the structure with netting. Earth Staples held the net in place.

The results were delicious.

"This is the first year we haven't lost the entire crop to the birds," said Sarah, who managed the display gardens. "Two big bags of berries are already in the freezer."

More Ideas
Crop Cage

Made from sturdy tubular steel and nylon netting, the Crop Cage has a zippered opening so you can walk right in to harvest. 48" sq. x 72" H.