Protecting Berries From Birds

Birds can cause serious damage to fruit crops, including blueberries, blackberries, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries. Robins, starlings, finches, orioles, and cedar waxwings have been observed feeding in ripening fruit crops throughout the Midwest. Bird damage patterns can vary from year to year and can be localized, depending on the source. Birds can fly 10-15 miles from a resting site to feed. It can be difficult to stop birds from feeding once they start. They can establish their home territory in late April and May and remain until the crop ripens. Fruit crops near resting areas, wooded lots, and ponds are most vulnerable. Birds generally feed approximately 30 minutes before sunrise and generally conclude feeding about 30 minutes after sunset. In the home fruit plantings, bird netting, either plastic or rope (known as tobacco netting), can be highly effective in bird damage control. It is important to completely cover the plants so that the bird will not be able to reach the berries from underneath netting. Well placed nets can offer nearly 100% protection.