Are birds becoming a problem in your garden? While they are an important part of the ecosystem, helping to keep on top of pest populations, pollination, and adding more life and music into your garden, they can become a nuisance.
This is especially true if you grow fruits and vegetables, strawberries in particular are favorites of many kinds of birds. Pigeons love cabbage among other veggies, and bluejays love berries.
If you’re finding that your plants are being picked clean by birds, you’ve come to the right place.
While you won’t be able to keep them out of your garden entirely (and this would be an impossibility to attempt anyway) there are things you can do to make sure they don’t decimate your plants.
Here are the best ways to defend your plants.
What Brings Birds To Your Garden?
In order to keep certain birds from attacking your plants and causing general mayhem, it’s important to know what is attracting them in the first place.
Most of the time, birds only become what we feel are nuisances when we are growing fruits and vegetables, and they like to help themselves.
But instead of taking one or two off the plant, they will absolutely pick it clean if they are given the chance.
The more crops you grow in visible and easy-to-access areas, the more birds will feast on your hard work, leaving very little for you to enjoy.
This is where it leads to problems.
Birds will also come into your garden when there’s a water source, food in the form of other plants, worms, insects, and the like, and also somewhere safe for them to nest or hide from predators.
But this part is an integral part of nature, and you shouldn’t disrupt it beyond wanting to protect your own plants.
Attempting to do so will cause more harm than good, and you would see an imbalance in your garden’s ecosystem, where your plants would be decimated by pests.
How To Keep Birds From Eating Your Plants
When you’re growing edible plants, birds can be a complete menace, quickly outstaying their welcome, and rendering any plant full of fruit completely bare.
They will go for seedlings, fruits, berries, and seeds themselves without any hesitation.
The good news is that you can implement a few tactics to stop them from making a beeline for your crops, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Birds may look somewhat mechanical, but they are incredibly clever, and given half the chance, they will be able to tell the difference between a decoy and a real threat unless you use several methods, as birds will adapt to one or two over time.
With many animals that can become pests, using one method is usually not enough. If you go for several at once, this is likely to be much more effective.
While birds can be the bane of your existence for a season, they are an integral part of your garden’s ecosystem, and get rid of worse nuisances like snails, slugs, and other things that will ruin your plants.
It may sound strange, but attracting birds into your garden is something that you should do to help support the health of your garden, as they will largely do a lot of the pest control for you.
Methods To Discourage Birds From Your Garden
While there’s no absolutely foolproof method of keeping birds out of your fruit trees, veggie plants, and any other plant they might have their beady eyes on, combining several methods to discourage them goes a long way.
Remember, don’t try one solution out at a time, as this will be ineffective, and will likely just teach the birds that this is not something they need to worry about.
Instead, using several methods at once, and then introducing a few more will go a long way in preventing the birds from adapting to the deterrents.
Many birds don’t like reflective objects, even something as simple as bits of tin foil or broken CDs made into a mobile.
It’s thought that reflective objects are something that birds can’t process properly, and others believe that the reflection looks like the eyes of a predator.
To maximize its effectiveness, hang reflective objects off large tree branches and bushes with garden string. The wind will make the movements more random, and it will help scare off the birds.
Wind chimes are one of those deterrents that do a job without looking out of place. Thanks to the wind, the random movement and noises of the wind chimes means that the birds can’t get used to them to a certain extent.
But don’t be tempted to hang them outside your door and assume this will scare them away.
Wind chimes are best used when you put them near trees or plants you want to protect, as the noise and movement will put them off.
Another great method that doesn’t look out of place is to install garden spinners in your garden, and the movement when the wind randomly picks up will help scare the birds.
One thing to note, however. You’ll need to randomly move the garden spinners to new locations every so often so that the birds don’t become accustomed to their presence.
Let Your Pets Enjoy The Garden As Much As Possible
Both cats and dogs will help keep birds away to some degree, so allow your pets to spend as much time in your yard as possible.
This will help discourage the birds not only when your pets are in the garden, but also with the smells and signs they leave behind.
Farmers have been using scarecrows for hundreds of years, and it’s still an effective way to make birds think twice before coming into your garden.
You might assume that the heavier and the more durable items you use, the longer it will last.
However, it’s better to use lightweight materials such as straw, because you’ll want to move it into a different place in your garden periodically to stop the birds getting used to it.
To make the scarecrow more effective, consider changing up its appearance occasionally, as this will also prevent the birds from understanding it is a decoy.
Plastic Predator Decoys
Another way of deterring birds from your garden is to get some plastic decoy predators. It helps that birds aren’t the only ones that get unnerved by these decoys, but they also help deter the likes of squirrels and groundhogs (see also How To Keep Groundhogs Out Of Your Garden), too.
Plastic snakes, and fake birds of prey such as owls and falcons are effective in scaring birds off. Remember, for this method to be effective, you need to move the decoys around occasionally, otherwise the birds will get used to them!
Terror Eye Balloons
Another popular method of deterring birds from your garden is to use terror eye balloons. This method certainly won’t break the bank, and most garden supply stores will sell them.
As you can imagine from the name, terror eye balloons are printed balloons that feature a single eyeball, which puts any prey animal off.
The wind also helps the movement of the balloon stay random, which is the best tactic in making sure birds stay away.
How To Protect Vulnerable Plants From Birds
It’s important to note that these methods are effective, but they won’t always stop your plants from being eaten by the birds, especially if the birds learn that the decoys aren’t a threat.
To doubly protect your garden, it’s worth protecting your vulnerable plants from birds.
This will go a long way in stopping them from eating the fruits of your hard work, more so than decoys will on their own, as some birds may decide that the risk is worth it!
Use Chicken Wire
One of the best ways of protecting your plants is to use chicken wire with very small holes. It stops the birds from uprooting young plants and eating freshly sowed seeds.
It also helps that you can change the shape of the chicken wire and its purpose later on, if needed.
You might start off putting chicken wire around a seedling nursery, and then make it taller as the plants grow, or make a cage to put over your raised beds.
Use Garden Netting
Garden netting is incredibly useful for keeping out birds, especially when it comes to protecting crops such as cabbages and strawberries.
Always use a butterfly netting that’s made from a tough material, so that the birds can’t tear into it with their beaks.
The small holes also mean that the birds can’t get in, and also keep out the likes of butterflies and moths, perfect for protecting brassicas.
And while you can usually get away with the cheaper options when it comes to gardening, it’s worth investing in an expensive butterfly netting, as it will last for years if you take care of it.
Just make sure that the netting is taut and secure, so it cannot accidentally trap wildlife or let them in at all.
Screen Attractive Plants With Flowers
Another effective method is to use large ornamental plants around your crop plants.
Using the likes of dahlias, poppies, cosmos, calendulas, and borage for example will help hide your crop plants and make them less obvious to birds and other animals that might want to eat them.
It also helps that these plants attract pollinators and can increase crop yields.
Use Garden Fleece
Another barrier you can try is using garden fleece. While it’s not meant to keep wildlife out, and it’s supposed to insulate your plants, you can use it to keep birds away from vulnerable plants.
How To Keep Birds Off Your Crop Plants
Nothing is more satisfying than bringing in a whole meal’s worth of food from your garden that you have grown yourself, and cooking up a fantastic meal.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get as much as we’d like from our gardens because of the wildlife that calls our gardens home.
If you are finding that birds are enjoying your crop plants more than you, there are things you can do to put them off and save at least some of the food for yourself.
The first thing you need to be is vigilant. Keep moving your bird deterrents around your garden every few weeks or even days, to unnerve the birds and prevent them from getting used to the decoys.
Capitalize on their instincts: birds don’t like sudden movements, sounds, or light, so make sure some of your decoys are reflective, and can move in the wind.
Remember that this is a game of patience, and not all methods are likely to work at once.
Keep in mind that birds in your garden are largely a force for good, as a vital part of the ecosystem, helping to get rid of pests and keep insect populations under control.
Finding one or two of your plants nibbled is a small price to pay for this, so don’t try to keep birds out of your garden entirely.
Instead, protect the plants that are vulnerable, such as strawberry or blueberry plants or other crops, and let the birds do what they were made for.
Consider Using DIY Remedies
Another thing you can try which is a cheap method to put off birds is to mix your own spray deterrent.
Using vinegar, chili and water can make an effective spray, and this will not only keep birds out, but also the likes of squirrels and groundhogs. You will need to refresh this spray after watering, and when it rains, too.
Use A Dedicated Cage For Crop Plants
For those tasty crops that birds can’t get enough of, it can be worth investing in or making a walk-in cage that you can grow your plants in without worrying about them being eaten by birds.
You will have to make sure that it’s in the right position for enough sunlight to penetrate the cage, and the right conditions for the crops you want to grow, but it means that you don’t have to protect every plant individually – the cage does that for you.
It means that when you’re ready to harvest your fruits and vegetables, you can simply open the door, and take what you want (making sure you close it behind you!)
Consult The Professionals If All Else Fails
If you don’t have room for such a cage, and you have tried everything you can think of, it’s worth asking a bird expert or even a pest control expert who can offer you some advice.
They will likely have a method that you haven’t thought of, or, if all else fails, they will be able to relocate the birds for you.
It’s unlikely that one single bird deterrent will work on its own.
Taking advantage of a bird’s survival instincts by using several methods that use light and movement is the best way to keep them from becoming a nuisance in your garden.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to discourage birds entirely, but make sure that your crop plants are off-limits.