Natural Repellents to Keep Birds From Eating Your Berries

I recently posted a pic of my first harvest of homegrown strawberries on Instagram and our Facebook page and lots of folks were asking me “how to you keep critters and birds from eating them all!?”

This former city slicker learned quickly and I’m here to share.

Once my green berries were staring to turn red, I would excitedly go out each morning to see some of them munched on. By something. A nibbler. And the bites looked very triangular. A bird? I was going to let him/her enjoy a few, thinking that a couple losses was no big deal, until a few turned into every single one that was ripening.

I did some research and went out shopping to secure some bird netting right away.

I wrapped up my berries pronto…

Natural Bird Repellant Netting

… using sticks I found in the yard to lift the netting above the berries—I wanted to diminish any “landing” possibilities.

Natural Bird Repellant Twig

An hour or so later, I was milling about the yard and saw the culprit—Mr. Mockingbird—attempt to fly into my planter, only to be derailed by the netting.

Victory!

He wasn’t harmed, only bummed out I imagine. He tried one more time then perched on the deck, looked at the berry planter longingly and then flew away.

Sorry, Mr. Mockingbird. Those treasures are for future Almond Chia Yogurt, Strawberry Flax Salad and Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream.

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A few other humane repellents I recommend to keep nibblers at bay:
• Sprinkle your planter with cayenne pepper—one irritating, burning sniff and berry eaters will want to stay away. Make sure you rinse berries well before you consume them and don’t rub your eyes post-pickin’ until you wash your hands. This worked well for me and my garden last year, which was no doubt visited by some sort of walking animal(s) in the beginning of the season. Save money by shopping in bulk for cayenne—store in a recycled jar and label with a rubberband.

Natural Bird Repellant Cayenne Pepper

• Another natural bird repellent is homemade pepper spray. Blend together crushed red pepper, cayenne, apple cider vinegar (about 2 tbsp) and water. Fill a spray bottle and mist your planter well.

• Take some metallic tape and tie to a stick with a string so it can blow around (make sure both sides of the tape are metallic)—the sunlight hitting it will create a flash that will startle the birds and keep them away. Haven’t tried it, but I bet a silver pinwheel or three would work well, too.

• If you can, raise your planter. I didn’t plan this, but the fact that my planter is raised, helps keep walking critters away. I built a planter out of recycled fencing and it happened to look sweet/cute to me lifted off the ground with two little wooden tables. Serendipitous form and function I guess. This solution makes it so I only deal with birds after the berries, not mice or other furry friends on walkabout.

Natural Bird Repellant Lift Planter

Hope this helps all of YU green thumbs out there harvest a ton of berries this season.

Keep your bird netting to reuse season after season, and note that it can be used for other tempting foods in your garden as well.

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Do you have any natural repellent ideas for keeping critters out of your garden? Help us all with your comment below. 

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