I’ve just done a little research to find some creative ways to keep birds out of fruit trees and want to share them with you.
When I moved into my current house, I was lucky enough to discover a number of mature fruit trees in my garden. I have two plum trees, 2 pear trees and 1 large nectarine tree.
Unfortunately, the local native bird species like to get my fruit before I can pick it. As well as that, pest birds such as European starlings and house sparrows can peck the fruit and cause significant damage.
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The problem is that the birds don’t wait until the fruit is ripe. Now, I don’t mind sharing but I would still like to be able to pick some ripe fruit for us to eat.
I’ve found that I can pick the plums before they’re fully ripe and they will ripen off the trees. However, by doing this, I do find that I’m sacrificing some of the sweetness. You see, most fruit will get sweeter if left to ripen on the tree.
Plus, pears have to be left on the tree until they’ve reached a certain ripeness stage. If picked too early, they just won’t ripen at all. It’s also quite discouraging to find half-eaten fruit on the ground under the trees.
So, whether you have a cherry tree, an apple tree or a whole home orchard, here are some different ways to keep birds out of fruit trees that my research has uncovered. I’m going to try some of these to see which ones are successful.
1. Cover Your Trees With Fine-Mesh Bird Netting
I’ve seen a lot of people who cover their entire trees with bird netting to try and keep the birds away from the fruit. The idea is to drape the entire tree from top to bottom with the netting and then gather and tie it around the trunk.
You need to ensure that the fruit is well within the netting and not against it. Unfortunately, the birds will peck at any fruit that is right up against the net.
While this is the best way to protect your ripening fruit, it’s really only feasible for small trees. I’ve done this myself in the past but it’s really not ideal for very large trees. All my current trees are very mature and tall. There’s no way I could successfully cover them with netting.
2. Use Visual Deterrents Such As Old CDs And Hang Them On The Trees
The idea here is to thread some thin thread, like fishing line, through the center hole of the CD and then hang these shiny objects on the branches of the trees.
The CDs are reflective and when the birds see their own reflection, it scares them away. There are many people that swear by this method.
However, after some time, the birds will get used to the CDs and come back. Therefore, it’s best to hang them only as your fruit starts to ripen.
I’m going to go on the hunt for some old CDs I can try this with.
3. Use Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is not only reflective but it also makes a little noise as it spins in the wind. I have some aluminum pie tins in the cupboard to try this with. It’s just a case of poking a hole in the plates and then threading some fine cotton through it.
You then hang these on your trees and hopefully, they’ll scare the birds away. I’ll let you know if this method is successful.
Another idea is to just hang strips of foil or reflective tape in your trees. The sun will reflect off this and this will bother the birds as they don’t like looking at the glint of the foil.
4. Hang A Predator Decoy In Your Trees
Some gardeners have suggested hanging decoys such as fake owls and rubber snakes in the trees. Apparently, this will fool the birds for a while but they’ll smarten up soon enough.
It’s still worth a try if you only hang the decoys while the fruit is ripening and then take them down after you’ve harvested it.
You can even purchase plastic owl decoys with in-built speakers. These speakers will emit sounds of beating wings, predator cries or distress calls.
5. Hang Some Wind Chimes In Your Trees
I don’t know about you, but I simply love windchimes. The birds won’t be used to the sound of the chimes and many don’t like loud noises. So, this will supposedly scare them away. Even better if your chimes are slightly reflective.
Once again, this method may work for a while until the birds get used to the sound of the chimes.
6. Have Some Fun With Balloons
For this method, blow up some colorful balloons and then paint large eyes on them. Then, hang them in your trees. The birds will think that the balloons are predator birds and stay away from your trees.
7. Consider Investing In Ultrasonic Bird Repellents
You can purchase a range of different ultrasonic repellents that are designed to emit sounds that only birds (or other animals) can hear. Ideally, you want to find a repellent unit that emits sounds that would normally be made by natural predators such as eagles, hawks and falcons. This should work well for many small species of birds.
8. Hang Some Colorful Wind Spinners From Your Tree Branches
Once again, this type of repellent works on the premise that birds don’t like sudden movement or reflection of light. This works well if you choose spinners that have spinning blades.
Especially ones that also have a shiny or reflective surface.
9. Try A Variety Of Small Windmills
You can purchase a whole range of ornamental garden windmills that may be useful in keeping birds out of your fruit trees. The spinning blades of the windmills will also emit a little noise which might add to their effectiveness.
10. Use Strong Smells To Deter Birds
Many birds find really strong scents quite irritating. Scents such as peppermint, citronella and lemon oil as well as chili, garlic and cayenne pepper can be a good deterrent to your local bird population.
You could use this knowledge to your advantage by spraying your ripening fruit with a food safe strongly scented oil mixed with water. Or, better still, soak some pieces of cloth in the oils and hang these near your fruit.
Even vinegar is a good bird repellent. However, you don’t want to spray this on your fruit or your trees because it can be quite harmful to plants as well.
11. Install A Motion Activated Sprinkler Near Your Fruit Trees
Motion-activated sprinklers can be quite effective in scaring birds as they start up. Of course, the birds have to fly close to these sprinklers in order to activate them so this solution may not work as well when the birds tend to sit high up in the tree canopy or in the top of the tree.
However, these would work quite well if you’re growing fruits such as strawberries or raspberries that are low to the ground.
12. If You Can’t Deter Them, Feed Them
Another idea is to provide an alternative food source for the birds away from your fruit trees. If there’s plenty of alternative food for the birds, they may just stay away from your fruit.
All you have to do is set up a bird feeding table well away from your fruit trees and provide a range of different foods such as bird seed, cut-up pieces of fruit that you can spare and even mealworms.
13. Put In A Birdbath Away From Your Fruit-Bearing Trees
While you don’t want the local birds eating your fruit, it is beneficial to have them in your garden. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create a nice hospitable area elsewhere in the garden where the birds are welcome and you can enjoy their antics.
Installing a birdbath is ideal for this, especially during the warmer weather. Of course, it would be ideal if you place the birdbath near your bird feeder so that will be where the birds will congregate.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ll find that many commercial farms and orchards will cover their entire crops with bird netting in order to protect their harvest.
You’ll find bird netting available in a range of colors but the most effective is the white netting as it’s easily visible to the birds.
Birds can be quite sensitive to really strong smells such as peppermint oil, lemons, citronella, chili, cayenne pepper and garlic.
This certainly gives us quite a few bird deterrent methods to try. I’m going to try one method at a time to see what works best to solve my bird problem. It’s also a good idea to try different methods at different times so the birds don’t get used to any one of them.
Remember to remove the deterrents when the trees aren’t fruiting. This ensures that when you add the deterrents again once the trees are fruiting, the birds will see them as something new and something to be wary of.
Plus, having birds in your garden is a positive thing and something I really enjoy – as long as they leave me some delicious, homegrown fruit to enjoy as well.