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Damn Birds!

Originally uploaded by Lorika13.

Well, the berries are finally ripening and I am so happy about that, but - now the birds that I have so graciously fed with store bought seed since the cold sting of winter - are nibbling on my berries!

They even foiled my "deterrent" - old small black plant containers placed over the almost ripe berries to keep them from the robin's keen eye while they ripen one more day. I guess the robins are smarter than I thought - or maybe it is the grackles.(I know I caught one robin in the act the other day.) All of the berries I put containers over were nibbled!

In any case, someone it taking one bite out of a berry and then leaving them to bite the one next to it. Just one bite?! Why not eat the whole berry? Really, I thought humans were the only wasteful species - I guess not.

I guess I'll need to take more drastic measures, like not filling the bird feeder anymore you greedy little bastards! Grrrrr!

Seriously though, I love birds and animals in general, and I hate to come in conflict with them, but as I garden more and more I learn that there is no way to avoid it. They may be just trying to eat - but so are we. I will never resort to poisoning or intentionally hurting animals that are eating my garden, but I do need to do something though.

Anyone have any tips for keeping the vermin out of the berries?

June 18, 2008 | Permalink


I don't grow strawberries anymore, just for this reason. My culprit - the chipmunks. But they don't even wait for them to turn red. They pick them at the first blush of pink, take one bite and throw them away. Then they go onto the next berry until they are all gone. Tossed casually aside after just a taste. It is so sad.

Posted by: Daphne Gould at Jun 18, 2008 3:12:37 PM

Oh man! I feel your pain Daphne.

I don't know why, but it just feels weird to me that other species are just as, or even more wasteful in some ways than we are.

Or maybe it's just that they don't realize that each berry is going to be the same? Derrr.

Posted by: Lorika at Jun 20, 2008 11:21:40 AM

Get a plastic owl. Scares enough birds away for me to enjoy my berries. I got a larger one with glass eyes. I think they are available at most hardware stores.

Posted by: Peter Hoh at Jun 20, 2008 12:21:02 PM

This is my first year growing anything edible (tomatoes - they're beautiful!) - and I've discovered it's like Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner trying to keep one step ahead of the varmints. Have finally resorted to "caging" my raised bed using garden netting on frames made of PVC. It's not the most pastoral sight, but I'm not sharing anymore of my crop with the Nibblers...

Posted by: M.Brum at Jun 20, 2008 11:57:08 PM

Hmmm, plastic owl - that sounds easy enough! I'll have to get one. Now, I wonder if it will work on the squirrels?

M Brum, I'm right there with ya - no more food for the nibblers!

Posted by: Lorika at Jun 23, 2008 12:09:49 PM

Maybe the critters don't consider it wasteful, but clever -- perhaps they've figured out that you won't want the berries with nibbles in them, so more for them in the end.

I have a plastic owl, and it is effective -- just make sure you move it every couple of days so they don't cop on right away.

Posted by: Maggie at Jun 24, 2008 8:17:09 AM

Yes, perhaps you are right Maggie. They are devious little nibblers!

I am gonna try and remember to pick up an owl at Home Despot next time I am there. I gotta get some more triangle tomato cages anyway.

Posted by: Lorika at Jun 24, 2008 12:04:42 PM

I use bird netting and predator tape. Predator tape is a somewhat pretty and shiny mylar tape that you buy in a roll at the hardware or garden center. You place some bamboo sticks around and in your strawberry patch, then tie some yarn on the stick with about a 3" tail on it. Cut a 2 foot strip of the mylar tape and tie it to the yarn, so that the mylar can wave and twist in the wind. This stuff is great! It last several seasons and keeps away birds, deer, etc. It makes noise as it moves, snapping and hissing and flashing in the wind. The sound is pretty effective. When I'm out in my garden I find myself looking over my shoulder, it sounds like there's something moving behind me. It must do the same to the critters, I've watched as the deer avoid getting near it. It's cheap too...about 5 bucks a roll.

Posted by: Kelly B. at Jun 26, 2008 9:29:01 AM

Ooo! Great tip Kelly! I've got some shiny silver/rainbowey ribbon out there now, but it doesn't make any noise - perhaps that's the key. I'll have to check that stuff out.


Posted by: Lorika at Jun 26, 2008 11:33:00 AM

Just a little correction on my post about predator tape. The package I have at home is labeled "Repeller Ribbon." I just put it up around my new bed of everbearing strawberries. I was plucking all of the buds up to now. This was recommended by the seed co. that I bought the plants from. Now that the bed is established I can let the strawberries come in....and I don't want the birds and chipmunks to get them all!

Posted by: Kelly B. at Jun 27, 2008 4:19:51 PM

Thanks Kelly, I didn't see anything like that at Home Depot - I'll have to check elsewhere.

BTW, Home Depot is merely convenient for me - not a place I really recommend.

Posted by: Lorika at Jun 30, 2008 1:55:47 PM

I have a little over an acre of strawberries and have been growing them for about 4 years. Many of the nibbled berries are nibbled by mice or other small rodents. The single most important thing I do, or don't do, is weed. I let the grass grow and grow tall in the berry patch. I never have to water and I do not lose that many berries to critters because they can not see them. The berries also grow off of the ground so I do not lose many to rot. After they are done producing I mow the berry patch about 2" from the ground to stop any flowering weeds like thistles from seeding and I leave the clippings there to mulch the berries. It works really well and I have not had to replant or fertilize yet. I also like cavendish berries the best. I purchased them from the Indianna Berry company. I live in zone 4, southern MN.

Posted by: amber at Jul 2, 2008 10:01:36 AM

Ever try BirdGard? These repellent systems are a little pricey, but they pay their weight in preserved berries.

Posted by: Rob at Jul 14, 2008 11:20:00 AM

Speaking of strawberries...

Just found this amazing vertical growth approach. This would definitely help with the land based vermin, and sure help with easing the bending over to pick work. And the yield per square foot would go up a lot. I know it does not have that cozy small farm plot feel, but I wonder as we transition into more efficient growing styles, this kind of farming makes sense? It would probably be a lot more efficient with fertilizing and water use. Wondering what would be the downsides...?


Side note, the people developing this are forerunners into producing Algae for biofuels. Hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel for our oil crisis.

Posted by: Chris Martell at Aug 1, 2008 1:00:16 PM

Hmmm, mowing the berries huh? Interesting. I do agree that hiding them is good, I do a bit of that with mine, but my grass doesn't grow into the berries, probably no room with all the creeping charlie. ; ) I don't mind losing a few anyway.

Birdgard. Hmmm. Probably not worth the money for me I guess, but thanks!

Thanks for the link Chris, I'm going to check that out. I'm always into looking at new efficient ways to grow things, and bonus that they are also working on the energy crisis!

Posted by: lorika at Aug 5, 2008 11:04:18 PM

I use a net and have not had one problem since!!

Posted by: Trasi at Aug 8, 2008 1:11:43 PM

that is big problem.. i think u should use netting bird and bird deterrent i hope that will help...

Posted by: petersteel at Dec 17, 2009 1:13:47 AM

have bird feeders in my yard to feed the tiny little birds that fly about, especially this time of year when it's really cold. The problem I am having is that there are alot of crow / black birds in our area and they are absolutely relentless when it comes to the bird feeders. I really don't care for these black birds at all.

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