Stayathomemomof2 from Muscoda, WI
Bird watching can be an enjoyable pastime, unless of course, it means watching them swoop in and make a shambles out of your garden plants. Here are a few things to try:
Netting or Fencing: Use specially designed plastic bird netting (available at garden stores) to drape over the mature plants birds are pecking at. Protect newly planted seeds by planting them in indented furrows and laying a strip of chicken wire over each row. Hold the wire down using small rocks or sticks.
Shade cloths or floating row covers: Shade cloths are usually placed over rows of plants and secured with stakes or supports, to protect them from intense summer heat (usually used on cool season crops). The cloths come in varying "shade percentages", each indicating how much light it allows in. Floating row covers are somewhat similar to shade cloths. They let light and moisture in, while protecting plants from insects, birds, and small animals. They are usually draped over plants or secured with stakes or canes.
Cages: Build a quasi cage using small twigs or branches (or leftover fencing) around individual plants.
Pseudo Predators: Scarecrows & mannequins make good garden sentries, plus they add a whimsical touch to the garden. In order for them to be effective, you need to move them from time to time and change their look. You can also find large inflatable balls with menacing eyes printed on the front at some home and garden centers (or online). Try fake plastic owls or making a faux predatory bird by sticking feathers into a large potato and hanging it from a nearby tree.
Reflective objects: Hang shiny things from nearby trees, stakes, or from the plants themselves. Try CDs, aluminum foil, small ornaments covered in mirrors (think disco balls) or reflective streamers. All of these tend to spin and flutter when the wind blows and bounce light around.
Noisemakers: Things that make noise AND move are also effective deterrents. Cut up an old detergent bottle to make a pinwheel that spins and whirrs on a stake.
Remember, nothing will deter birds forever, so a variety of tactics are usually needed. Pay attention this year to the plants they seem to be favoring. Then next year you will be able to put deterrents in place before they start to look for food.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.
I buy some shiny pinwheels and "plant" them with my veggies. As the plants grow, I adjust the pinwheels too, so they are "growing" too. When asked, as I have been often, I just tell them, "I'm growing pinwheels cuz the plants get lonely." *wink*
It definitely works for woodpeckers who confuse a rain downspout with a tree, too. (08/05/2008)
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