How to protect your garden from birds – Farm and Dairy

“Bloom” by byrev is licensed under CC Zero.

While not all birds are nuisances in the garden, some can be destructive, digging up seeds or feeding on seedlings and mature crops.

Some of the birds you don’t want in your garden are crows and varieties of blackbirds.


Birds to keep out of your garden

According to Rutgers Cooperative Extension, blackbirds can be nuisances to gardens. ‘Blackbirds’ include red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, starlings and other blackbirds. These birds will eat insects and small animals, but they’ll also feast on seeds including sunflower seeds, sorghum and grains)  as well as vegetables like lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and sweet corn.

Crows also may frequent your garden and eat fruits and vegetables. However, The Humane Society states that they can be beneficial since they clean up insects that are harmful to plants.

How to keep birds out of your garden

There are numerous strategies that can be employed to deter birds from feeding in your garden. Some strategies may not work for all birds, though, so it may take trial-and-error to find out what really works.

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Aluminum screening. Michigan State University Extension explains how bending a roll of narrow aluminum screening into a U-shape and placing it over a row of seeds or seedlings to provide protection from birds. The screening can be held down by pushing slim sticks or heavy wire through the screening and into the dirt.

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Hardware screening or cloth. Hardware screening can be cut and bent into hoops for your seeds or seedlings. Michigan State University Extension warns that the screening should have openings small enough to keep birds out, such as one-half inch.

Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension offers the following ideas for keeping birds out of your fruits and vegetables:

Reusable plastic netting. Reusable plastic netting or even cheesecloth or wire mesh can be placed over plants or seed rows. The netting must be secured close to the crops so that birds don’t find a way through.

Paper bags. If you’re growing sweet corn, you can place paper bags over ears once pollen shed is complete, or after silks have turned brown.

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Stakes and flags. Attaching pieces of cloth to the tops of stakes and placing them every 15 to 20 feet in your garden may work to ward off birds.

Stakes and string. Attaching string to stakes and running the string across your garden will help to keep birds out for a week or two. Attach streamers or cloth to the string every 5 feet or so, too.

Chemicals. Seed treatments and pre-treated seeds can protect seeds until they become seedlings. Naphthalene flakes or granules can be scattered across seed rows until seedlings begin to sprout.

The Humane Society offers a few more ideas, specifically for controlling crows:

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Mylar streamers. Shiny Mylar streamers can work to scare off birds.

Fishing line. Fishing line, or even cord or fine wire, can be stretched across a garden in a grid pattern. Consider tying reflective tape or some other visible material to the fishing line so that you can avoid it.

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Plastic owls and snakes usually don’t work to scare crows. However, effigies of dead crows, items like CDs or balloons with reflective surfaces and garden hoses with motion sensors typically work to frighten crows, especially if they’re used consistently and are moved around the garden area.

Have other birds that are causing problems for the fruits and vegetables you’re growing? Or have any tips for keeping birds out of your garden? Let us know in the comments below!

3 more posts about garden pests:

  • How to manage insects in the garden May 12, 2015
  • How to keep wildlife out of your garden April 14, 2015
  • How to keep pests out of your garden July 15, 2014


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