The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Keeping birds out of the berries

Bird looking at
"How do you keep birds from eating your strawberries?"

--- I've forgotten who posted this question, but someone did a few weeks ago

RaspberriesWe don't generally have problems with birds in the strawberries.  (In the photo above, the cardinal is actually stealing some buckwheat seeds that weren't adequately covered by straw.)  However, I've noticed a lot of bird activity in the black raspberries, and a minimal amount of damage to the red raspberries.

I don't know why the blacks are preferred --- perhaps just because they're small enough for a bird to easily gulp down, or the higher proportion of seeds makes them more nutritious.  But even with lots of birds eating, we've been getting quite a good harvest.

I may change my tune when our blueberries come into full production, but so far, I don't net any of our berries or worry too much about bird predation.  There's so much wild food around that our berries are just a side dish for them, and a main crop for us.

In the meantime, I've noticed phoebes picking cabbage worms off the broccoli and have even noticed a cardinal swooping down to catch an insect in midair.  (I'm well aware that cardinals are supposed to be obligate seed- and fruit-eaters, but clearly they don't know that.)  So, in the long run, having birds in our garden is a net plus.

Our chicken waterer is the POOP-free solution to a filthy homestead problem.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Cardinals ate all our grapes the last two years, shortly before they were ripe enough for us to eat. Last year they managed to get in under netting.
Comment by Errol Fri Jun 21 07:27:25 2013

I really, really, really hate Japanese crows. They sit on the power lines and watch me. They are studying which plants I am taking care of. Seriously. Then when I have to leave the garden to go to work or have dinner, they swoop down and purposely damage what I have been doing. If they actually ate the produce, it wouldn't be so bad. But they are like a gang of teenage vandals. Twenty pumpkins- all will have just enough peck holes to ruin the fruit. Watermelons- the same. Not eaten, just ruined. Tomatoes- I didn't pick the first one until late August, when the 20 plants I had finally outstripped even the crows ability to destroy them. I hate crows with a passion that rivals my hatred of wild boars. Maybe even exceeds it, since the boars are mainly autumn pests, while crows are year round. My neighbor swears by killing a crow and hanging it up from a pole in your garden. I asked him how to get one- he just smiled. "When I figure that part out...." he said. He's 90 by the way. I reduced my garden to a 6x6m square with fine net over the top. It looks silly in the middle of all that field, with only a 6x6 parcel. But so far the crows are not in it. So far... I think they are just waiting for something they see me paying extra close attention to. Then comes the reverse jailbreak.

Comment by Eric in Japan Fri Jun 21 11:21:03 2013
Are your blackberries thornless? I have a large number of red everbearing raspberries, Heritage and Autumn Britton and i have very little bird damage.I want to add blackberries but i noticed the ones for sale local are all thornless.My thought was maybe the birds dont like the thorns on my berries and if I add thornless blackberries ill just be feeding them.
Comment by Rein Fri Jun 21 16:11:50 2013
Rein --- Our blackberries are thornless, and we don't seem to have bird problems, perhaps because my pruning method results in berries so big a normal-sized bird would have trouble with them. (Now, one of Eric's crows would probably dive right in.) We do have problems with our blackberries, though, because June bugs love to suck all the juices out of them.
Comment by anna Fri Jun 21 19:21:23 2013
I noticed as our blueberries ripened (just a couple at a time), they started disappearing, so I covered them with bird netting that we use on our sour cherry tree. This is our first year with our bb bushes and I am not willing to part with a single one:-). I'm pretty sure the birds are the culprits because the children have been sternly warned that these are Mommy's bushes (I will share, of course). :-)
Comment by Jane Fri Jun 28 21:30:23 2013

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