Q: Any suggestions on how to keep birds from eating the cherries before they are ripe? We have a huge cherry tree and have never had any ripe cherries left to pick. I tried pie plates and streamers when it was smaller to no avail. It is too big to net.
Hardiness Zone: 6a
Betty from Middletown, NY
Because your tree is so big, short of a propane cannon, you'll probably have to rotate among the usual arsenal of scare tactics. You might try setting large (plastic) birds of prey (owls, hawks, etc.) or several scarecrows among the branches in your tree. You'll have to move them around to keep the birds from getting used to them. There are also balloons with large eyes painted on the sides, plastic snakes, or reflective materials like CDs or silver-colored flash tape. I've also heard of people hanging plastic fruit in their trees before the fruit ripens to condition the birds into thinking the real fruit is inedible. One home remedy I've read about is to mix 6 packets of grape Kool-aid (no sugar added) with a gallon of water and spray it on the cherries as they are beginning to ripen. I have no idea if it works, but it sounds interesting. If you try it, test it out on a small part of the tree first before covering your whole tree-and let me know if it works!
I didn't have any luck with keeping the birds away either. Fortunately, I had two trees...the birds ate the Bing cherries and I got the Queen Anne. (I guess they liked the color of the Bings better). But then the raccoons discovered my tree and I never got a cherry off of it either, so I gave up and cut them both down. I got tired of raking all the leaves just to feed the birds and raccoons. (04/10/2006)
Take a light kite string and throw it over the cherry tree. Have someone catching it and throwing it back to you until you have covered the tree on all sides. One or two kite string rolls should do it. It doesn't have to be a heavy cover of string. The string will bother the wings of the birds when they try to fly in, but won't hurt them. They'll stay out of the tree and the cherries are easy for you to pick through the string. It works great. I have done this for years. People just think that you have been tp'd with string instead of toilet paper. :) (04/19/2006)
I let the grass under my tree grow extra long (it gets cut for the first time after cherry season). That way birds can't tell if predators are hiding and will avoid the tree. (06/12/2006)
By Steve Roberts
I use a long metal stick with shiny strings attached to it, and I put it on a rotating propeller. It is up on a wooden pole and keeps rotating and keeps most of the birds away. (06/20/2008)
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