Connecticut Garden Journal: The Birds Ate My Berries!

Jun 28, 2018

There's nothing more frustrating than growing a beautiful crop of berries only to have the birds wipe out your crop in a matter of days.

This is particularly an issue for me and blueberries. Cedar wax wings, robins, and other birds love the abundant crop of blueberries we produce each year. To protect the berries, and not harm the birds, we've come up with a variety of tactics. Here's what we do.

The best solution is to cover the plants with bird netting. The key is to construct a frame of wood, PVC or metal piping, then drape the netting over the frame. I used to just drape the netting on the foliage, but every time I tried to open up the net I invariably pulled off leaves and fruits. 

You can also try scare techniques. Hang old aluminum pie tins, CDs, and holographic tape in the berry patch now. These devices blow in the wind, reflecting light and scaring the birds off. I also use the scare-eye balloon. This beach ball-sized balloon has an exaggerated hawk's eye drawn on the surface that, to birds, look like a hawk is watching. Move the balloon around every few days.

If all these scare tactics aren't appealing, you can also try motion-sensitive sprinklers that automatically turn on when they detect activity. Just remember to turn it off when you're visiting the berry patch.

Finally, Cornell University found spraying a solution with artificially-flavored grape Kool-Aid on berries deters them. They don't like the taste. Add four packets of Kool-Aid powder in a gallon of water. Just wash the berries before eating. 

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about fragrant roses. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.