Scare birds away from garden

“Bloom” by byrev is licensed under CC Zero.

While not all birds are nuisances in the garden, some can be destructive, digging up seeds or feeding on seedlings and mature crops.

Some of the birds you don’t want in your garden are crows and varieties of blackbirds.

Birds to keep out of your garden

According to Rutgers Cooperative Extension, blackbirds can be nuisances to gardens. ‘Blackbirds’ include red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, starlings and other blackbirds. These birds will eat insects and small animals, but they’ll also feast on seeds including sunflower seeds, sorghum and grains) as well as vegetables like lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and sweet corn.

Crows also may frequent your garden and eat fruits and vegetables. However, The Humane Society states that they can be beneficial since they clean up insects that are harmful to plants.

How to keep birds out of your garden

There are numerous strategies that can be employed to deter birds from feeding in your garden. Some strategies may not work for all birds, though, so it may take trial-and-error to find out what really works.

Aluminum screening. Michigan State University Extension explains how bending a roll of narrow aluminum screening into a U-shape and placing it over a row of seeds or seedlings to provide protection from birds. The screening can be held down by pushing slim sticks or heavy wire through the screening and into the dirt.

Hardware screening or cloth. Hardware screening can be cut and bent into hoops for your seeds or seedlings. Michigan State University Extension warns that the screening should have openings small enough to keep birds out, such as one-half inch.

Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension offers the following ideas for keeping birds out of your fruits and vegetables:

Reusable plastic netting. Reusable plastic netting or even cheesecloth or wire mesh can be placed over plants or seed rows. The netting must be secured close to the crops so that birds don’t find a way through.

Paper bags. If you’re growing sweet corn, you can place paper bags over ears once pollen shed is complete, or after silks have turned brown.

Stakes and flags. Attaching pieces of cloth to the tops of stakes and placing them every 15 to 20 feet in your garden may work to ward off birds.

Stakes and string. Attaching string to stakes and running the string across your garden will help to keep birds out for a week or two. Attach streamers or cloth to the string every 5 feet or so, too.

Chemicals. Seed treatments and pre-treated seeds can protect seeds until they become seedlings. Naphthalene flakes or granules can be scattered across seed rows until seedlings begin to sprout.

The Humane Society offers a few more ideas, specifically for controlling crows:

Mylar streamers. Shiny Mylar streamers can work to scare off birds.

Fishing line. Fishing line, or even cord or fine wire, can be stretched across a garden in a grid pattern. Consider tying reflective tape or some other visible material to the fishing line so that you can avoid it.

Plastic owls and snakes usually don’t work to scare crows. However, effigies of dead crows, items like CDs or balloons with reflective surfaces and garden hoses with motion sensors typically work to frighten crows, especially if they’re used consistently and are moved around the garden area.

Have other birds that are causing problems for the fruits and vegetables you’re growing? Or have any tips for keeping birds out of your garden? Let us know in the comments below!

3 more posts about garden pests:

  • How to manage insects in the garden May 12, 2015
  • How to keep wildlife out of your garden April 14, 2015
  • How to keep pests out of your garden July 15, 2014

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How to Keep Birds Away + Out of Your Garden: Tips + Ideas

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Before we dive into tips on how to keep birds out of your garden, it is important to point out that birds can actually be beneficial when they are not eating your corn or stealing your berries. Birds can help keep several pests out of your garden by dining on snails, slugs and insects. They can also help fertilize your soil with their droppings, can help turn the soil when scratching for insects and are fun to watch.

However, some birds will eat your corn, destroy your strawberries by pecking them for the seeds, steal your blackberries and sunflower seeds, or even eat some of our vegetables. If this is the case in your garden, it might be time to employ some tricks to keep birds out of your garden without harming them.

7 Ways to Keep Birds Out of Your Garden

1. Build a Scarecrow: Scarecrows are a tried-and-true method for scaring birds away from crops, which is usually the best way to keep birds out of your garden. You can make a basic scarecrow with two bamboo poles and some old clothes, or you can make an elaborate scarecrow with stuffing, a hat, and even boots. Aside from being an effective method of keeping crows away from your crops, you can also have a lot of fun with this one and can even get the kids involved.

2. Add Some Shine: An inexpensive, sometimes-effective option is to string something shiny and silver on fishing line, and then run the line between posts or poles throughout your garden. You could use strips or squares of aluminum foil, foil to-go containers, silver ribbon, Mylar steamers or balloons, old-school pie tins, old CDs or DVDs, or reflective tape.

3. Add Predators: We do not want to add any real predators that might harm the birds or other animals that visit your yard, but you can add fake ones to try to scare the birds away. The most common options are plastic owls, hawks or snakes. All of these options can be found for less than $20.00, although some fake garden owls and hawks can cost much more than that. If you ask 10 gardeners whether or not this trick works to protect your garden from birds, you will probably have five tell you that it works and five tell you that it does not work. One way you can help ensure success is to make sure you move your fake predators around your garden so that birds do not get used to them or realize they are fake.

4. Add Scary Noises: Some fake owls and hawks come with a sound chip that produces predator-like screeches to scare off birds. If you live in a suburban or urban neighborhood, your neighbors may not love this one, but it is an option.

5. Cover Your Garden with Bird Netting: Bird netting is a bit controversial and may not be the best choice if you want to deter birds without harming them. While this is an effective way to keep birds out of your garden, they can become tangled in the netting, which could lead to them being stressed, injured or killed. Birds can also get through the netting and become trapped inside. Bird netting is inexpensive, easy to find and easy to use to cover your plants, so you may want to consider it. Just be sure to check your garden regularly to see if any birds are tangled or trapped.

Wire bird netting or plastic hardware cloth is generally considered a safer and equally effective method for protecting your garden from birds. You can make hoops or frames from PVC pipes or wood to help you install a net barrier to keep birds out.

6. Plant Sacrificial Flowers or Bushes: To keep birds out of your garden, you might want to try providing them with something appealing to attract them elsewhere. For example, planting some sunflowers in the corner of your yard away from your garden may attract them to that area of your yard instead of the spot where you grow your herbs and vegetables. You might also find that something as simple as feeding your backyard birds with a bird feeder can be an effective way to protect your garden.

7. Use What You Have: You can use just about anything that provides a barrier while allowing water and sun to get to your plants. For example, you can cover individual plants with wooden crates, an upside-down laundry basket, mesh food cover tents or colanders. You will likely have to change your tactics as larger plants mature, but this an easy, affordable way to keep birds away from seedlings and young transplants.

Further Reading…

If you are trying to keep birds out of your garden, you may also be interested in these articles about how to keep other pests away from your plants.

  • 45 Tips for Natural Pest Control
  • 9 Tips for Keeping Nighttime Bugs at Bay
  • 20 Unusual Gardening Tips that Work

How to Keep Birds Out of Your Garden

There are three key ways to keep birds away from your garden: barriers, scare tactics, and chemical deterrents.

Bird Barriers

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Bird barriers are the most effective bird deterrent. Bird netting allows rain and sun through while keeping birds away and can simply be tossed atop your fruit trees. For most other plants, such as blueberries, erect a structure with bamboo, fence posts, or other stakes that the netting can hang upon, and anchor it to the ground with wires. Bird nets can be reused for several years if handled carefully.

Any bird guard material can be effective, including chicken wire (though smaller birds can still pass through) and window screening. If birds are nibbling your freshly planted garden seeds, try covering them with a layer of landscape fabric or tulle, checking daily to see if the seeds have germinated enough to remove the fabric.

Plastic strawberry baskets can protect seedlings, and paper bags may be placed around individual fruits or vegetables likely to be under bird attack.

Attach bird spikes to buildings where pigeons and other birds congregate.

Distract birds from your garden by keeping bird feeders a safe distance away.

Bird Scare Tactics

Loud noises, strange movements, or decoys that resemble predators are among the sensory bird scare tactics you can use. These can be effective until birds become accustomed to the stimuli and recognize they won’t be harmed. Noisemakers, moving objects, and decoys should be regularly moved so these bird repellers are perceived as threats.

You can purchase bird deterrents that use laser beams, water spray, decoys, movements, and sounds. Homemade bird repellers include: aluminum pie tins on strings, cassette tape or iridescent strips of tape, and ribbons that wave in the wind; scarecrows; or tape-recorded predator sounds.

Chemical Bird Repellant

You can purchase chemical controls but be wary about using any spray that may be harmful to inhale or ingest.

Garlic oil is an effective chemical bird repellent but it must be reapplied frequently due to weather.

  • By Deb Wiley

It’s always nice to see birds and other wildlife out in the garden until they start destroying crops. Shortly after sowing seeds, birds can become a problem in any garden. There are many bird scare methods including the trusty scarecrow that each have varying degrees of success, there is no deterrent that works in every situation. Making it difficult for them to access your vegetable garden in the first place will stop them from destroying it. This is referred to as the barrier method and includes products like bird netting and bird spikes. Psychological methods can be just as useful, hanging various small reflective items like old cds or bits of foil on a line also works as the birds can mistake the glittering for the light shining off the eyes of a predator. However, the birds can become used to them if their positioning and patterns are not changed periodically.

Repellents and Deterrents
There are quite a few bird repelling devices available, these can be placed anywhere in the garden and can cover substantial areas. The best electronic devices are the solar powered variety that emit ultrasonic signals that are uncomfortable to birds, they do not cause any lasting harm whatsoever. There are electronic repellents that quite loudly emit the sounds of hawks and eagles but these can become extremely annoying if required anywhere close to home. Various nutrient based deterrent sprays and solutions are also available. These are sprayed on the foliage of plants to make them completely unpalatable to birds and other pests, look for natural varieties of deterrent that are safe to use on food crops.

Bird Scare Lines
Bird Scare lines are a humane and easy to use bird repellent, they are harmless to crops, birds, and animals and are inaudible to the human ear. Bird scare line is an effective bird deterrent made of polypropylene tape, which keeps birds off crops, fruit and vegetables. It does this by emitting an ever varying sound and vibration that birds won’t go near. The sound it makes varies constantly so that birds and wildlife can not get used to it. It is safe, simple, durable and easy to use – just stretch it between two stakes or posts so that it is close to crops and it will start to emit the vibration as the wind hits it. It also deters rabbits and other pests.

Bird Netting
Bird netting is probably the most effective form of barrier protection for crops. It is a garden mesh protection net that offers excellent butterfly and bird control for your garden. It can also be used to protect garden ponds from birds and leaves. Making it difficult for birds to access your vegetable garden will stop them from destroying it, some netting placed across freshly planted seeds or seedlings will keep them away and give your garden a chance. Bird netting will also prevent butterflies from laying their eggs on your crops, these eggs turn into caterpillars which will decimate cabbage plants etc. The netting can be laid directly on the area that has been planted but it should be placed on supports to raise it off the plants once they start growing.

You can find all of these and more in the bird section of our Pest Control Shop.

Protect Your Backyard Vegetables From Birds With This Hack

Why bother with this stuff at all? This time of year, migrant birds are returning for the winter and if you don’t do something to protect tender crops, you may find leaves covered with bite marks and new shoots eaten to the ground.

Supplies:

  • Bird netting
  • Masonry ladder
  • Landscape staples

The masonry ladder is key. It’s a hardware store hack that I started using a couple of years ago and it works like a charm. Masonry ladder is a material for building walls and will run you about $3 per ladder. I use one ladder and cut it in-half with heavy-duty wire cutters to create two hoops for a raised bed. The hoops create a frame that lifts the bird netting away from the growing crops and keeps the netting from getting tangled.

Photography by Erin Kunkel

Bend the masonry ladder into a semi-circle to fit the size of your bed and push it about four- to six- inches into the ground. If you have a raised bed, put the ends of the masonry ladder in the inside of the bed to help keep the hoop steady. Next, cut the bird netting to fit the bed, secure one edge with landscape staples and stretch the netting taut over the masonry ladder hoops.

Photography by Erin Kunkel

Finally, tack down all remaining edges of the bird netting with landscape staples to keep the netting tight and prevent birds and squirrels from sneaking under the corners. Keeping the netting taut both looks better and is safer for animals. Loose netting increases the chance that a bird will get caught rather than just deterred by the netting. To harvest crops, take out the landscape staples from one side and fold the netting over the top of the hoop.

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