Bird Damage Prevention for Northern New England Fruit Growers [fact sheet]

Bird damage on apple

Introduction

Birds can become especially serious pests in blueberries and strawberries, but they also cause injury in other small fruit and tree fruit. Visiting flocking species such as starlings, cedar waxwings, grackles, and blackbirds cause some injury. Other problems come from pairs of resident birds that establish a territory on a farm, defend it from other birds of that species, and raise their families there.

Usually visiting birds are easier to scare away than ones that have established and defended a territory there. Flocks are frequently easier to scare off; the fright response of a few individuals, plus the desire to stay together may account for that.

There are many bird control options, to fit a wide variety of problems. Some solutions (netting, for example) deter virtually all species, while others work only on a few. Birds quickly become accustomed to scare devices, so when you use them, change methods and/or location of scare devices frequently. When using scare devices, a combination of visual plus auditory methods works better than either alone. Keep them up only as long as you need them. It is much easier to prevent a feeding problem than to stop it once a strong pattern of activity develops.

Most birds are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act or state laws, so this limits the options for dealing with them. It also helps to remember that many species of birds that eat our fruit also eat insects and may play a beneficial role on the farm.


Side curtain netting in use in a New Hampshire vineyard.

This publication contains the following topics:

  • Methods of control
  • Netting
  • Visual devices
  • Effigies
  • Scare-eye “balloons”
  • Reflective materials
  • Hanging dead crow
  • Hawk-mimicking kites
  • “Windmill”
  • Sound deterrents
  • Propane cannons
  • Firecrackers
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Recorded distress calls
  • “Critter Gitter”
  • “Scare-away bird line”
  • Electric perching wire
  • Taste repellents
  • Toxicants
  • Shooting
  • Trapping
  • Hawk and owl nest boxes
  • Falconry
  • Reducing habitat favorability
  • Specific bird problems
  • Notes on bird species
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of suppliers

To read the publication in its entirety, download the Resource.