Birds, Please Stop Eating My Strawberries!

Many birds will eat strawberries, including the Common Crow, Gray Catbird, sparrows, Cedar Waxwing, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, American Robin, an the Northern Cardinal.

Last year I battled with the birds over my two little strawberry patches, each measuring about 3×3 feet – but stuffed full of strawberries. Last year my biggest bird problem was with the Mockingbird and the Robin. This year we are battling with the Blue Jay.

What they do of course is the moment that the berries begin to turn red, their built-in birdar (their version of radar) zeroes in on the delicious color and they begin to pick and devour at the strawberries.

(I have a similar problem with my Merlot grape vines which span across about 100 feet of trellis across some of the back perimeter of the yard. The very time when the grapes begin to turn blue, the attacks begin.)

Today I have decided to get much more serious about the perimeter security of our two precious strawberry patches. No, I didn’t load up one of the firearms… Instead, I made a trip down to ‘OSH’ Orchard Supply Hardware and went through the arsenal of bird deterrent technologies ranging from fake bobble-head birds-of-prey to flashy aluminum shiny ribbon. Since I already have the bobble-head birds-of-prey and a bobble-head owl which I normally reserve for grape season (so they don’t get too used to it), I decided to go with a protective bird netting.

Having just completed the strawberry patch fortress, I now know that unless you are a net fisherman, you will probably have a bit of frustration while dealing with a net. Nets are magnets for getting stuck on every little thing imaginable, not to mention the fact that you can hardly see it when you’re working on it or cutting it (at least it was true for this one).

The nets come in fairly large rolls. This one (the smallest I could find) was 14 feet by 45 feet (about $25 – ouch). I only needed to cut a square of about 10×10 feet, but I’m sure I’ll use the excess as I continue the bird battle down the road with other yummy treats.

For those that are going to attempt to build a preventative bird net, be aware that it is best to support the net in some way such that the net is not directly on the fruit itself. It’s Okay to lay the net over things like grape vines and such – because the fruit is suspended underneath and the birds can’t get it. Strawberries however are just lying there and the birds could just sit on the net and pick away…

Also be aware that birds will apparently try to get underneath and walk their way in to the feast – little sneaky buggers… So be sure to do your best to seal off means of entry.

Be creative and just work with what you have. Everyone’s little patch of goodies are different and the netting structure will have to be custom applied for effectiveness.

Since I’ve just now completed the strawberry patch bird net, I cannot yet report on it’s overall effectiveness. I will update with first hand results, as the patch is within my direct view of the office bay window. Maybe I’ll be able to catch a photo of a frustrated Blue Jay, and declare VICTORY!

On the other hand, I have a feeling this battle may continue… ;)



Update (the next day)

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  1. Excellent idea about fake, but moving eyeballs to deter birds. I also use a bunch of old CD-ROM disks that I hang separately on strings. They spin in the wind and the shiny surfaces definitely helps scare the birds a bit during grape season.

  2. I am new to this website and was looking around. Just a tip…it might not work for you but, you could try it. Take the hard, black lava rocks and paint them red. Then, put them in your strawberry patch well before the strawberries turn red. The birds will try to eat the rocks and will get so frustrated that they give up by the time the real strawberries turn red. I read this on another website and I have yet to try it with my strawberry patch, but you might want to try it next year :-)

  3. I planted 2 4′ x 8′ Strawberry boxes last spring and of course the return on them last year was not great since I didn’t let most of my plants flower. So there wasn’t much of a bird problem. I would see the odd Robin in the patch which I stupidly thought, ‘Oh how cute, he’s looking for worms.’ This year my plants are full of flowers and are starting to turn into little green berries. I am so excited, but so are the birds. There are dozens of birds at a time sitting on the fence I have around the perimeter of my garden licking their chops and waiting. I could almost hear them saying in their little birdie voices, “Just wait ’till I see the slightest bit of red and then you’re mine.” I can see that I will have a battle on my hands. I asked a local fruit farmer how he deals with the bird problem and his response was, “Me and the birds have an agreement, I tell them, if they leave me enough to make a profit I won’t add them to my stew pot.”
    I have several bird feeders in my yard thinking that may keep them out of my garden, but I realize that’s like inviting all your relatives over to a bar-b-Que thinking they’ll just eat the chips and potato salad and not pay attention to the steak and ribs on the grill. So I fully intend to try netting my strawberries. my only concern is accidentally catching a bird in the net. Whereas the birds can sometimes be a pain in the neck, (and other strategic locations on the human anatomy), I still don’t want to harm the little beaked outlaws. So, and I know this was a long story to get to my question, has anyone heard of any stories where flocks of birds, or even just one bird has gotten themselves caught in one of these garden net? Thanks for reading and I am eagerly awaiting responses.

    1. I know I am a year late to the discussion but I would like to answer in case someone else also has the same question and is reading this also a year late. We have both a cherry tree and a miniature peach tree that we cover with the same netting and it has never asked a caught a bird in the netting. It has caught lots of lizards so if you have lizards in the area and don’t want to catch them then that might be a problem but we’ve never had an issue with catching birds. :)

    2. Birds can be caught in nets and die…I would not use them…

  4. im growing strawberries for the first time i lost my first berry to a crow, all i had laying around was a plastic milk crate, i plopped that on top and ive enjoyed every other berry that has rippened so far. i hope this helps people with smaller patches. good luck and enjoy!

    1. Hey, I have 2 grates laying around……..I just put them out there! Thanks for the tip!

  5. I live in a place where all the birds listed in these posts exist and Magpie’s are also a huge problem. My strawberry patch is large being 30 ft x 4, and I also have a large raspberry plot.

    Having grown up on a farm, I know of only one sure way to deter all birds, from a patch that is too large to bird proof with netting.

    You must try to kill just one of the culprits and hang them close to the crop. Birds are smart enough to know that they could be next is they get to close to “this human”.

    The method I choose for the kill is a sling shot. It is cheap to make and an infinite amount of ammo is available for free in the form of rocks.

    Even though I miss my target 99% of the time, it scatters the birds, and since all berry eating birds are territorial creatures, it will not take long for them to realize that the patch belonging to the crazy farmer is out of bonds. Usually within a few days. Works for me every time.

  6. Hi
    living in the midlands we’re still waiting. Last year I used a white tulle petticoat, not having anything else to hand, it worked!

  7. Years ago we had a problem with birds eating our berries. Someone told us that the birds are thirsty or hot and are looking for liquid. So, we put a pan of water in the middle of the patch and never had trouble with them again.

    1. Interesting! I will remember that next time I have a bird problem. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Magpies have been eating my unripe sultana grapes through the bird netting, only in the last two summers. They fly up and push against the netting and grab the grape in their beaks. I have tried everything, but it seems I have fooled them this time, by pegging three thicknesses of news paper onto the netting in front of the bunches, so that they are unable to get their beaks onto the grapes. They have inspected it today and eventually walked away…….fingers crossed. I thought that they were meat eaters.

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