How to: scare birds
Photo - Linda Ross
This autumn don’t lose your precious fruit harvest to the birds.
These are our favourite – proven! – techniques.
Deception is the first line of defense. Birds of prey such as owls, hawks and osprey scare smaller birds away and we take advantage of that fear. When we placed a plastic owl on a stake near the fig trees, we no longer saw little bite marks in ripening fruit. An owl will also scare ducks from pools and sulphur-crested cockatoos from balconies. Owls are available from Bunning’s, $45. Alternatively, install a full-sized, hovering replica hawk over the vegetable patch to scare cockatoos, crows, galahs, corellas, parrots and mynah birds. Suspend the hawk above fruit tree crops as well, especially pome and stone fruits. www.hawkbirdscarer.com
Plastic snakes do a similar job as birds of prey. We throw them up on branches within the fig trees to act as a backup to our fake owl. A model black cat is another successful bird deterrent, especially if it is moved around the garden every few days. This one is 36cm long and 17cm high and is made of powder-coated steel with glass marble eyes to reflect light. www.pestawayaust.com.au
Yachties are a crafty mob, and many of them use humming wire on their yachts to stop seagulls from roosting and messing up their boats. This idea can be borrowed for the garden. Crissscross wires above head height from corner to corner across the vegetable patch to prevent birds from landing. The wire hums in even the slightest breeze, creating an audio deterrent as well as a physical barrier. Available in a 30m roll from most hardware stores and marine stores.
Photo - Linda Ross
A failsafe technique is a tree cage to keep birds (and bats and possums) out. Bird netting must be strung over a frame to avoid damaging stems, branches and fruit and it needs to overlap at the ‘door’ for easy access and be pinned to the ground around the tree. Frames will vary in design: long thin tunnels for espaliered fruit trees, a ‘big top’ circus tent to protect the whole vegie patch or a single rounded cone over one fruit tree. Use a combination of timber stakes topped with curved poly pipe or steel reinforcing mesh (Weldmesh) and bird netting as seen in the photo. Black bird netting can be found at www.netpro.com.au
Disco mirror ball
Not just for disco queens, this strategy has been used with great results in the Hunter Valley vineyards. The refracted light from the mirror ball is disconcerting for birds as it creates flashes of light over the foliage. Suspend one high up over the vegie patch for the best results. Option: add disco music to complete the effect. Available at party hire places $20-$50 depending on the size (bigger is not best).