For many gardeners, birds are a welcome guest. They make short work of insects that chew up and destroy plants such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, slugs and snails. However, with small seedlings and plants or trees that bear soft fruits, birds become unwelcome predators and the bane of many green-thumbed homeowners.
In this case, what bird control options are open to you?
One of the most effective bird control methods is to create a barrier between pest birds and the plants you wish to protect. This can be easily achieved by erecting grow tunnels, draping netting over the area (supported by bamboo sticks for example) or, in the case of small seedlings, placing chicken wire on the ground.
For whatever reason, birds simply cannot stand the feeling of fishing line, and criss-crossing some over the area will work as a simple deterrent. It’s important to bear in mind that with all these “barrier” methods, nothing is ever 100% effective, and there’s every chance that a bird could gain access and become trapped. To prevent undue suffering, you should be checking the area frequently and freeing any wayward visitors.
Another simple DIY method for protecting seedlings, without the risk of trapping birds, is to cut off the top portion of clear plastic bottles and place them over the young plant. Pressed gently into the soil and with the cap removed, they are relatively secure and allow access to the sunshine and fresh air that will help your seedlings thrive.
Introduce a “Scarecrow”
Birds are typically scared of people. Even the most brazen, city-hardened pigeon will take flight if you get too close. Of course, you could just stand in your garden all day waving your arms, but who has the time these days? The tried and true alternative is introducing a scarecrow.
The traditional scarecrow — propped up on a cross and stuffed limply with straw — can be off-putting for many people. Thankfully, there are plenty of modern alternatives.
Any shiny surface will provide effective bird control; holographic owl figures are a common commercial choice. For a homemade version, hanging mirrors or old CDs/DVDs can work just as well. Another common option is “scaring balloons” which are large, inflatable balls with frightening prints on them such as faces and large eyes. With all these options, it’s important that you move them around your garden on a regular basis — birds may be skittish, but they’ll soon realise there’s nothing to be afraid of if your “scarecrow” has been still for days!
Make Some Noise
Sonic devices create sound that’s imperceptible to humans, but most animals can hear much higher frequencies that will prove irritating if they go on for long periods. There are many options for these devices at all price points, and they are relatively easy to install. However, because of their nature, sonic devices can upset family pets, with dogs finding them particularly distressing.
A natural alternative is to hang wind chimes around your garden. What is a pleasant sound for us becomes a startling clanging for birds, and there’s no real need for moving them around your garden as the sound will always be irregular.
If you’re looking to protect your plant area from birds but don’t want to deter them from your garden altogether, it’s important to provide some alternative food sources in the form of fat balls and seeds (though do be aware that other visitors can be attracted by these). Some gardens also feel it’s worthwhile to leave one or two plants uncovered as a “sacrifice.”
If you have any questions about protecting your plant area or would like to discuss your needs with a bird control expert, please get in touch with Safeguard Pest Control.