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7 bird-defying strategies for berries and cherries

7 bird-defying strategies for berries and cherries
Minimize or prevent small fruit damage by birds with seven non-lethal strategies

Leonard Perry, University of Vermont horticulturist, knows bird damage.. "My wife and I originally had hopes of having a few June berries," he says, "but have given these large shrubs up to the birds."

June berries attract all types of birds, including less commonly seen ones, even chipmunks. They'll eat the berries even when half-ripe.

trawberries are especially at risk if cedar waxwings are nearby, or wild turkeys, adds Perry. The latter also are attracted to fruit drops. Cherries, best protected by netting, are usually fed on by cedar waxwings, starlings, crows, and blackbirds.

7 bird-defying strategies for berries and cherries

Grapes – dark fruit more than green – commonly are fed on by robins, starlings, and crows. Few if any birds feed on raspberries. (They leave those to the spotted-wing drosophila.)

Keep in mind…
* It's easier to prevent damage by installing deterrents just before fruits start to ripen. Only use as, and when, needed.
* Birds learn quickly, so alternate deterrent or scare devices regularly.
* Best control comes from using both audible and visual deterrents.
* Netting is the best method of prevention, and works for all species, but is the most time-consuming and costly to install.
* It's often easier to scare away visiting flocks than resident birds. Birds that you often see in flocks are cedar waxwings, evening grosbeaks, blackbirds, grackles and starlings.
* Birds can be useful to have around since their main diets are insects. So lethal control methods should be avoided.

Common and easy deterrents
Perry suggests the following measures – unless, of course, your goal is feeding wildlife.

* Consider putting up a birdhouse designed for kestrels (sparrow hawks), particularly around strawberries. * Many report success with inflatable or highly reflective owls attached to poles. Move them to a different location daily to keep birds off-guard.

* Since birds often feed at dusk or dawn, lights (solar or powered) with motion sensors may scare away birds. If possible, make them portable so they can be moved about every few days.

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* U-pick orchard may use periodic cannon bursts sounds or electronic bird distress calls.

* Reflective tape can be hung among plantings to startle birds as it dangles. But this visual deterrent works better if combined with a noise deterrent.

* Scare-eye balloons – large, filled with air, and with large eyes on the sides – are hung on posts every six to 20 yards apart. They're effective at scaring birds for 10 to 14 days.

* Unobtrusive, black mesh bird netting most commonly is seen installed over blueberries, sometimes over grapes. It's best supported on a network of posts and wires, rather than laid directly on the bushes.The latter allows birds to reach through the netting for fruit.

Use 4-inch square, treated posts, set a couple feet in the ground. Use bottoms cut from soda bottles on top to prevent posts from tearing netting.

Use wires (Dark, 12-guage monofilament is best.) strung between posts to support netting. Make sure you have an entry to the structure. But keep it closed so birds won't fly in and get trapped. For the same reason, make sure the base is anchored tightly to the ground with boards or ground staples.
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