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How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Posted by robj New Jersey (My Page) on
Tue, May 24, 11 at 6:26

We have a backyard blueberry patch that has become quite productive. Unfortunately, we don't get to eat the berries as the birds will strip the plants bare.

Last year we made a frame with bamboo and formed a cage with bird netting but that worked out poorly.

I had to rescue several birds and chipmunks from the netting, a couple of birds weren't so lucky and they still found their way inside and ate most of the fruit.

Has anyone come up with a way to deter determined birds from blueberries?

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Tue, May 24, 11 at 7:34

I lose a few berries to the local birds every year, but I think less than 10% of the crop, so I guess I am lucky in that regard. There must be enough other food sources around to keep the birds from being totally focused on the blueberry crop. If I ever have to set up framework, and cover the shrubs, I will use non-woven row cover material. We use this to protect seedlings in our garden-it works great, and it allows sunlight to pass through, so the plants continue to grow.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I have a two foot high fence around my blueberries and then on top of that make a bird netting cage similar to yours. I had a few birds get in last year but it was just because I hadn't tied it down well enough. I don't think there's much alternative. Just try to make your netting more birdproof!


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

  • Posted by robj 10 (My Page) on
    Tue, May 24, 11 at 21:59

Thanks for the advice.

I'm thinking of using a repellent that uses Methyl Anthranilate.

Anyone have success with one?

I've only been able to find it in gallon sizes online. I think a pint or quart would be better for me. Any sources?


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Tue, May 24, 11 at 23:35

I drape old remnants of bird block (from years gone by) across my BB containers. The birds are completely repelled by it.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

That's a lot tighter mesh than the netting we were using.

I think the birds had found that they could slide through the seams or under the bottom even though we had it weighted to the ground with bricks.

It might work though - Thanks.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I just had to plant enough so that there's plenty for me and the birds - I still begrudge them every one they take, but I don't have the time or inclination to fool with netting them.
Planted 25 additional bushes this spring


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

LOL- same experience here, including the bamboo frame. plus, add a big black dog who would pounce on the birds caught in the netting, and a husband who would mow over the edges of the netting where it touched the ground....it was just a disaster. the birds are relentless, and blueberries seem to be their #1 target once they know they are there. hence i actually got some berries the first year or two before they were aware. finally bit the bullet and made an actual berry cage this year 12'x6'x6', wood frame with stapled on netting with a hinged door for access. I can get in and walk all around the plants. the other issue I had with plain netting is if you seal it so perfectly they can't get in, this makes harvesting a pain as you must unseal/reseal every time. the berries are not all ripe simultaneously as I have early-mid-late season varieties.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

We actually made a bamboo frame all around the blueberry patch, used zip ties to attach it and had a roll up door so we could get to the plants easily.

So you made a wooden frame and stapled the bird netting to it or some other material? We may go that route.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I hammered in metal posts every 6 feet, zip tied wood posts to them. Screwed wood crossbars all along top and bottom and across the width. Bottom bars are fairly snug to the ground so when I put the netting on, I could fish it underneath to keep anything from sneaking under. I used a heavier gauge plastic netting than some of the cheaper bird nets. Basically I used nylon twine to stitch panels together on the ground, then put it on the frame and stapled it to the wood posts & rails. Door frame was made from the scraps and attached with hinges between 2 posts. hooks and bungee cords keep the door closed snug. Your roll up netting door for easy access was probably your weak point for bird entry too.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I had the same bird problem with blueberries and strawberries. The robins are the badguys!!! what I did was planted mulberry trees everywhere around my gardens. The mulberry fruits around the same time as the blueberries and strawberries. The birds would rather be up in a tree eating than on the ground. And it works...good luck! JOHN


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

robj: regarding the methyl anthranilate, the cheapest way to get some is to buy unsweetened grape Kool-Aid. Four packages to one gallon of water. Thoroughly wet plants. Depending on rain or heavy dew, reapply as needed.

I got this info from some university site which I have forgotten. I tried it, but I can't say I had a very good test. Three sets of mockingbirds nested in the privacy hedges that close in my backyard and everything in the yard has been under tremendous pressure to feed the two hatchlings in each nest!!! Can't wait till the little buggers fledge and go away :-)

Anyway, the Kool-Aid is cheap (or "cheep", in my case) and you can gauge the effects without going after the pure chemical and then wondering how you will get rid of the excess.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Thanks for all the suggestions, especially the grape Kool-Aid information.

I feed the birds all winter and we provide nesting boxes in our yard.

You'd think these ingrates would know when to stop taking.... but noooo....


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

strawberryjohn - I'll agree with you regarding mulberries as a diversion crop for strawberries(though I'd rather be eating mulberries off the tree than picking strawberries, too!), but most of my mulberries are long gone well before the first blueberry ripens here.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Does methyl anthranilate work for blueberries in a smaller sized patch? I only have about a dozen containers covering about a 40sqft area. Obviously it depends on the number of birds around who sample before deciding to leave, but just asking...

I'd just assume build a box around it, but not exactly the wife's preference and certainly not since I've been pushing to move them into the front yard into a nice planter.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I have four bushes outside of Philadelphia for ~ 8 years.
Each year I get more elaborate with my netting defense. I agree with others that you need a frame. Netting draped directly on bushes will tear off the tender berries and lead to all sorts of other problems. Here is what I observed and am concentrating on this year. The birds (especially these smart brown and black ones) appear quite able to burrow right under netting and even rip it with their beaks... but they only do this at ground level. I think they can walk up to netting and try to get through. The key is to protect the penetration at ground level. So... I am using 2 feet high wire fencing ( ~ 2cm square opening kind) the is securely anchored into the ground. This wire fencing closely surrounds a standard netting frame which also goes to ground level. BTW I built my frame from (gasp) ~1.5 inch pvc piping. I painted it brown to hide it more. It still somewhat a pain to set up and take down but is faster than metal or bamboo stakes.

BTW... we have water and several bird feeders that are ~ 20ft from the berries. I never see the birds that love my berries at the bird feeders. If my metal fencing does not work I swear I am getting a pellet pistol.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

  • Posted by MoleX Brooklyn NY (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 6, 11 at 5:34

I hang a ceramic owl near my BB patch, and the birds stay far away, We mainly put it up to keep the pigeons from roosting on top of the air conditioners under the roof edges, but it works very well, every two years or so, I move the owl.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Here's what I finally did after many different attempts to
keep out the birds. I first ran 5 ft. chicken wire around
all my blueberry bushes. Then I shove a short half inch post
about 2 ft. long into the ground on each side of each bush. Then I put a 5 ft. piece of conduit (10 footer cut in half) on each post.
Then I put a 10 ft. piece of 3/4 inch pvc over each bush on to the posts (this forms a hoop over each bush). Then I draped netting over the hoops letting the netting hang over the fencing. Then I tied the netting to the fencing. Do not run the fencing down to the ground as the birds will get tangled in it. Once all is secure I raise the hoops up to make the netting more tight. It is amazing how many blueberries you can get when your not sharing with the birds. I have been eating a large bowl of blueberries evey day since July 1, 2010.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

tom -

I'm having trouble picturing this. Could you post a photo or two please?

I've been spraying with the grape Kool-Aid. The berries haven't turned color yet so I don't know if this will work.

I'm about ready for the pellet gun too. ;)


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Robj,
Sorry, but I do not know how to post pictures.
Tom


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

tom a

There are several spots on this forum that have instructions for posting pictures. Can you give it a try? Many would like to see what you have designed...


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I will try. I won't have the netting set up until July so the pictures I will try to send are from 2008 (the one with the gate) and the other view is from 2010. Well, my lunch break is over and I still haven't conquered this photobucket. I can try again tomorrow.
Tom


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries


2010

2008
These ( I hope) are the pictures of my blueberry netting. I hope this works. I do not have the netting installed yet for 2011 as it is still early here. The pictures are from 2008 and 2010. The one with the gate is from 2008 and the other is from 2010. I can take some better pictures in a couple of weeks when I set up the netting for 2011 if anyone would like.
Tom


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

tom_a_z5il - Please take more pictures and post them! Once my blueberries get a bit older I plan on netting them since there are TONS of birds in my yard.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

  • Posted by robj 10 (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 14, 11 at 12:55

Thanks Tom. Now I understand what you did.

I'm hoping the grape Kool-Aid and fake owl will do the trick.

Mine are just about to ripen so I'll know soon enough.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Exactly what do you do with the Grape Kool-aid?


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

robj
The owl did not work for me. The very next day there was a robin within a foot of my owl. The robins also just laughed at the six scare eye balloons I put up.
tom


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I will admit that if a robin gets caught red-handed in my netting, screeching loudly to warn other robins of the peril, I do not rush to set it free and sin again.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Thanks Tom a

Those pictures helped a lot. I hope we get to see more later this year.

What is the width and length of the netting you are using? Where did you get it from? Any problem with birds going through mesh that large?


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

More on the Kool-Aid. I tried it with my blueberries but it didn't seem to help. I eventually cobbled together a structure from PVC and netted it. As Tom said, it's amazing how many berries you can pick when the birds can't get to them.

That said, someone has declared the Kool-Aid a winner with his cherries. But he is using twice the concentration I gave from the article I read (so he was using 2 pkgs/qt.) and he also is using a little soap as a wetting agent so the stuff doesn't just run off.

I may try again with my boysenberries which are always such a Medusa's tangle with the netting since here they fruit over a long period while the new canes are actively growing. They're a mess already.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries


blueberry netting
Photobucket
Photobucket

northernmn
I used 1 and 1/4 nylon mesh netting which was 30x117 feet. I purchased it form lee valley garden tools. Good question about the birds. The small birds, the chickadees and the american goldfinch do go in and out at will. I believe the goldfinch are eating the leaves however, a couple of years ago I had a dozen orchard orioles get in there. I had never seen them before and they were only there for 2 days. I am attempting to send more picures. An overview of the netting, a good days picking, and an orchard oriole in the netting. The amounts the small birds get is minimal. The robins would eat every berry as soon as they begin turning blue. I keep the netting fairly tight by raising the pvc hoops and I keep the netting off the ground. This has nearly elimanated birds getting tangled in the netting.
Tom


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Well the Kool Aid and plastic owl didn't do squat. I got to eat about a dozen berries at about $3 each. I'll be making "tom" style frame before next season.

For some reason, the photos are not showing above. Let me give it a try:


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

robj,
I put up the netting last week and tried to post them with no success. Imagine my surprise to see them in your post this morning. I took the pics in three steps so you would have a clearer idea. After the hoops are up I drag the netting down the center aisle then run the netting over the hoops one side at a time. I attach the netting to the chicken wire with either twist ties or hooks I made from scraps.
tom


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

  • Posted by robj 10 (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 27, 11 at 19:23

Thanks for the effort you went to post photos of your setup. Nice sized bluberry patch you have there.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

My inlaws have a large patch of perhaps 40 or 50 plants. They have PVC plumbing pipe painted brown making a large frame around the patch with a few standing poles in rows in the center with coated wire connecting the center poles to the outside frame. It gets covered with a large birdnet covering sewn together of several widths of birdnetting. It is too large for them to get over the frame easily, so they invite all the family and friends who come to pick berries to help put up the net in the spring and to take it down in the fall before the trees start shedding leaves. To store, it gets loosely rolled the long way and then bundled into a large garbage can. Once it is up, there is a velcro strip for a door and the bottom of the net is held down with long strips of wood weighted down with bricks. The frame stays up year round and has so far lasted well over 10 years, perhaps 15 years or so.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

I use individual blueberry bushes in my landscape so covering them can be challenging. I am attaching a few pictures of what we call the "bird globe". Made with 1/2" PVC tubing and 6 T-connectors. Make sure the connectors angle out away from the base of the plant at a 45 degree angle to give it it's round shape. Yeah, it looks stupid but only needs to be in place for about a month or so. Without it, robins would have me cleaned out in one day. It is held down with T-bar stakes. It is easy to turn the stake and remove it for picking. I store them under my deck when not in use. So far has kept all birds out. However they do perch on it sometimes and leave their droppings on my berries. Need to add some spikes to the top.


Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

They actually look pretty cool. You should patent them.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

  • Posted by danzeb 7a long island (My Page) on
    Sat, May 11, 13 at 10:37

Antlers: Your "bird dome" is a very nice design for individual plants. Aesthetically It's the nicest looking cage design I've seen.

I tried hanging CD's from high blueberry bushes. It worked for about two weeks until a brave mocking bird decided to chance eat some blueberries. Once he realized it was safe he came back with his friends and ate them all.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Here's what I have done with 1/2" PVC and the typical bird netting. The other containerized plants just starting to leaf out are raspberries.

Works great. I don't have to crawl around on my hands and knees like I used to and I get loads of berries that I never could beat the birds to before.


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RE: How to Keep Birds from Blueberries

Ive had a similar problem with grapes, best way to keep birds from eating the grapes was to eliminate the birds. Best way I found to do that was to use rat traps with the plastic trigger holder tray thingy. Just set them among the plants and put a few ripe berries on the trigger deal and when the birds try to peck the berries, end of bird. I have nothing against birds, or rabbits, until they start eating my food, then the gloves come off and its war... If I could plant enough to share I would, but living in town, thats not an option for me.


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