Protecting Strawberries From Birds

Strawberry bed woth hoops and netting

Birds love ripe strawberries, and who could blame them. Imagine a bird just flying along and spotting, below, a dessert bar—a long matted row of sweet, juicy berries. Why not stop for a bite!

Well, you planted strawberries for your family, and everyone is waiting for them to ripen, that’s why not. What’s a gardener to do?

Scarecrows have gone the way of garden ornament. They are fun but largely ineffective. Similar tactics include aluminum pie pans and used CDs hung nearby on strings so that they blow about and make scary reflections. Mylar tape on stakes in the strawberry bed can also be used.

Rubber snakes and inflatable owls mimic natural predators, but they don’t work for long. Birds soon figure out that these stand-ins never move, so you need to change their position every few days, which can be quite a hassle.

Undoubtedly the most effective technique for protecting strawberries from birds is draping the strawberry patch with bird netting, an inexpensive plastic mesh with ¼-inch holes. Supported on a frame like floating row cover, or held above the plants by stakes topped with an upside down flower pot, the birds will not be able to get to the berries growing close to the ground. You can buy bird netting at garden centers or online.

Because strawberries need to be picked often, check frequently for any birds that may have gotten underneath the netting and become trapped. They will have had plenty to eat, but they will need to fly back to their nest.

Tip from a Reader: S. McGraw added this comment about bird netting to our “Grow a Strawberry Fountain”article: “…Put the bird netting over the entire pot structure, leaving enough room around the edges to keep the birds from pecking through the netting to the strawberries, and secure the bottom of the bird netting with landscape stakes. Be sure to re-secure the bird netting after each picking.”

Plastic netting

This bird netting is made of plastic mesh. Bird netting is the most effective deterrent against birds vying for your strawberries.

Berry Bed netted with wooden frame

A wooden frame added to this raised bed holds the bird netting up and off the strawberry plants below. It also does double duty to keep out rabbits.

Posted in: Growing Basics