by Matt Gibson
Want to keep birds out of your vegetable garden? Gardeners often plant certain flowers and shrubs with the intention of luring birds into their garden areas. Not only do birds add color and music to a garden, they are also responsible for pollination and pest control, both of which are beneficial to gardeners. Birdscaping, or designing your garden to attract and support local birds, is a growing movement in the world of gardening. But not every gardener is in favor of bringing lots of birds into their garden space, and for good reason.
Vegetable gardeners are often weary of sharing their harvests with the local bird population. Pigeons are known to devour whole heads of cabbage, leaving only a few scraps as evidence of their feast. Crows have been known to destroy corn crops by the acre, and Bluejays are notorious berry thieves.
Though birds may not be welcome in your vegetable garden, they still play a very important role in the ecosystem, so deterring them from entering your garden space in a way that could harm them, is not only inhumane, but harmful to your local ecosystem. So, if you need to keep birds out, here are 12 humane ways to send them flying in the opposite direction, so that you can keep your harvest to yourself.
Move It Or Lose It
Birds are not dummies. If you have a scarecrow sitting in the same spot for extended periods, they will quickly realize that it poses no threat to them and go to town on your veggies. In order to keep birds guessing, move your scarecrow around each week and change his clothes out to show the birds that your scarecrow is not just a stationary defense tactic, but a potential threat. If you use reflective items, such as old cd’s to keep local birds away, these should also be moved and rearranged frequently to keep birds guessing.
Creating barriers in your garden using garden netting is one of the most effective ways to deter birds from destroying your garden. Butterfly netting protects crops from birds while allowing smaller beneficial insects like butterflies and bees access to your crops for pollination purposes. To avoid potential injuries to birds and other wildlife, keep your netting pulled taught, and use a netting with holes smaller than one cm.
It is also important to invest in high-quality, UV resistant netting materials. They may be a bit more pricey, but higher quality netting will last a lifetime, and cheaper netting becomes a potential hazard for birds and other small wildlife, once it starts to fray and deteriorate.
Use Chicken Wire At Ground Level
Pin chicken wire to the ground to protect newly-planted seeds or freshly-sown tubers from being damaged from birds or chickens scratching and pecking at the soil. As seedlings start to grow, the wire could be lifted off the ground on stakes for additional protection.
Defend Crops With Garden Fleece
Garden fleece is often installed to protect crops from frosts during cold weather months, but it can also be used year-round to shield smaller crops from birds. Drape the fine, white material over your lettuce, salad greens, chard, and bok choy to keep the birds in your neighborhood from harvesting your greens before you get a chance. Weigh the sides down with rocks or pegs and roll back the fleece when it’s time to harvest.
Plastic Owls and Toy Snakes
Decoy predators, such as plastic owls, falcons, or other birds of prey, can help deter birds from ravaging your garden’s goodies. However, like the scarecrow, if these stationary decoys are not relocated often, birds will swoop in and eat their fill as they please. Moving your owls and toy snakes around in the garden, however, will keep neighborhood birds from moving in freely. Decoys that move or make sound are even better at deterring birds.
Terror Eyes Balloon
The most widely-used bird deterrent is the terror eyes balloon. The large, inflatable, yellow ball moves easily in a light breeze. The big eyes that are printed on the ball, as well as the movement of the ball itself, can scare birds away with a quickness. Purchase terror eye balloons at your local gardening center or make your own by replicating the eyes on a yellow beach ball.
Scarecrows work well as bird deterrents, as long as they are moved frequently, and adjusted, so that they don’t seem like obvious fakes. If you are making your own scarecrow, be sure to make it lightweight and easy to move, so that you can easily relocate it weekly to keep the birds on their toes. Changing the scarecrow’s outfit or accessories from time to time will help as well.
Objects that make sudden sounds or movements, such as wind chimes, can be highly-effective and practical bird deterrents. If you are going to use wind chimes to deter local birds, make sure you place them within your garden, as they will not do much good on your porch, far away from the action. If you can find chimes made out of metal or another shiny, reflective material, they will be even more effective.
Your beloved pets may be your best weapon for deterring birds from dining on your garden’s produce. A well-supervised dog will have the time of its life chasing away birds from your garden. If you have an outdoor cat, it will keep the birds away, but it might cause some problems of its own as well, turning your loosely tilled soil into a makeshift litter box, digging up your precious plants while burying their treasure.
Any movement will send a cautious bird flying fast, which is why wind-activated garden spinners are a great way to keep birds out of your veggie garden. As with other stationary items, remember to move your garden spinners once or twice per month to keep the birds from recognizing the decoys for fakes and moving in.
Reflective items, such as old cd’s or items made from unwanted or broken mirrors, make for great bird deterrents as well. Birds are not fond of sudden movement, and they are equally scared of flashing lights. Tie some old cd’s to your trees and bushes. As they move in the wind, they will send rays of light stretching out in all directions. If you place the cd’s or mirrors in a stationary location, you will need to move them once or twice per month to keep the birds from testing the waters.
Make a Stick Jungle
Push sticks and small twigs into the ground around your precious plants. Birds will likely notice the sticks barring their way instead of the tasty snack that they are protecting. Making a barricade out of small sticks may keep the birds out, but it will keep you from being able to harvest your crops easily as well. This method is best used for protecting seedlings and young, developing plants.
Videos About Keeping Birds Out of Your Garden
Gardening on a tight budget? This short tutorial film teaches you how to keep birds out of your garden for just one dollar:
Sometimes we learn the best method for dealing with a problem by trying and failing. This humble video shows the three mistakes one gardener made before finding the perfect solution for repelling birds from his garden: