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Keeping Birds From Plucking Your Fruit Trees Bare

We have a wonderful fig tree, however the birds eat them before they are ripe for picking. Do you have a method of covering them that will allow us to have some figs for cooking?

See, the real problem is that the birds think it's their tree. The other problem is that we mostly help people deal with food once they actually possess it, not while they are still arguing about it with predatory creatures.

Nonetheless, an Internet search for "netting fruit trees birds" turns up a number of solutions, including a 30'-by-30' polyethylene net — "perfect for covering fruit trees or strawberry patches" — from Hoover Fence for $45. We understand that putting a net over a tree can be a lot of work.

Another intriguing and less expensive option, derives from the apparent gullibility of birds. It involves tricking them into thinking that your tree is protected by a barrier, by stringing up a very loose network of monofilament fishing line. The process is explained (with helpful drawings) by an extension agent at Montana State University.

You can also purchase a Mylar bird tape or glitter tape at many garden supply stores, which you tie onto four or five stakes that are two feet taller than the canopy of the tree, and which you poke through the tree at various points. (Some people tie the tape to the tree itself, but those people also have no figs.)

The extension site at Michigan State University lists a number of "frightening devices" — Broadcasts of Recorded Bird Alarm and Distress Cries, Exploding 12-Gauge Shotgun Shells, Bird Scare Balloons, and our favorite, Automatic Bird Scaling Propane Exploder Cannons — that are beyond most homeowners and their neighborhood associations, but are certainly fun to think about.

Finally, if you're one of the kind-hearted citizens that keeps the bird feeder well filled and plants wildflowers that are chosen especially to attract songbirds, don't be surprised that birds have come to rely on your property as a wonderful place to dine. They don't know that you didn't also plant that fig tree specifically for their benefit.

Whichever method you choose (and we're holding out for the propane exploder cannon), if your efforts yield a crop of figs, you might like to check out the related articles listed below.


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