Hardiness Zone: 9a
CC from Texas
Covering your fig tree with bird netting is the only way to guarantee birds won't fly off with your fig crop. Netting is widely available online and at garden centers and hardware stores. Depending on how high your fig tree is you could also try erecting a teepee over your tree made out of monofilament line. Some studies suggest erecting a pole near the center trunk of your tree and running monofilament line (fishing line) from the top down to stakes on the ground is enough to give birds the impression that there is an impenetrable barrier around the tree. The line is run down from the top of the pole at two-foot increments all around the tree to create a sort of teepee effect. Personally, I think throwing a net over the top of the whole thing seems easier.
I've also seen a garlic spray advertised (www.garlicbarrier.com) that is supposed to be effective at repelling birds, insects and various small critters from fruit and nut trees. I have not personally tried it, but I think it looks interesting. Let me know if you decide to try it and it ends up working. If you can figure out the ratio of garlic to water perhaps you could make or own. Mylar streamers, CDs, eye balloons and cats are other short term measures effective at warding off birds.
If you don't already feed them, I would suggest setting up some feeding and water stations for birds and squirrels in a part of your yard away from your tree-at least during the time your figs are ripening. This might be your best overall strategy. Animals and birds will almost always choose easy food and water over having to work for it, thereby leaving your trees alone.
Have one fig tree 27 years old with 18' spread, and for all these years have wondered "how to stop the birds eating the fruit?" Answer, this year I cut 1/2" lengths of 1/2" masking tape and placed over the holes of the bigger fruit when the holes turn red. The birds always attack the fruit at the hole. They cannot see the hole, so leave my figs alone. Three weeks into picking and have lost 2 figs to birds. As a retired person I have the time to look after the figs and pick am and pm. Putting tape on, is done after daily picking times, am and pm. Auckland
I can't beat the birds to the figs, because they start to eat the ones that are almost ripe, and leave nothing left!
I put socks over the figs that are ripening. Can't tell if this prevents the fig from ripening, though. I'm going to try some of the hanging things mentioned above.
Bird netting, even though I have some, is pretty hard to get over the top of my tree.
By kathleen williams04/12/2009
I hang pieces of old water hose & foil in our fig tree, it helps,the best way is to pick the figs early in the morning before the birds get all of them, also pick them late in the day. Give the tree lot of TLC so it will make more figs than you need. I fertilize & water the tree every spring, I freeze about 10 gall every year from one big tree. I share with friends & neighbors, good luck.
By Karen in Summerville, SC (Guest Post)07/11/2006
My grandfather would hang plastic toy snakes on the branches. They scared me silly the first time I seen them. You can also hang disposable pie pans in the trees. Have fun!
By Ernie (Guest Post)07/05/2006
We 'used' to own a home with a fig (and pecan) tree and we're always having a race with the 'birds' and 'squirrels'. Of course, they got more fruit than us. So we put out bird food. That worked, but then that attracted more bird varieties and more squirrels. However, we figured out their 'feeding' times - early a.m. - and harvested the figs before their breakfast time.
Thank you for making me smile and remembering our earlier years. Good luck to you.
By Sherry (hamp2468) (Guest Post)07/01/2006
We have 4 Brown Turkey Fig tree's. You can put up netting, that should help. Try to buy the net that won't intrap the birds though. Put out Bird Feeders with Wild Bird Seed, you can also make your own Bird Bath for moisture they are getting from your Fig's.
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