Avoid bird damage with certain tactics

Question: What can be done to keep birds from eating all the fruit in an orchard? My brother has an orchard in southern Utah. There are about 100 trees, mostly dwarf and semi dwarf. Last year, birds got 90 percent of the fruit. He has tried scarecrows, but that didn’t work. He has also tried aluminum foil pie tins, but that worked only temporarily . Is there any solution for him other than buying netting to cover the trees?

Fruit usually damaged are the soft fruits: apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, etc. Birds focus on fruit as it starts to build sugar content, mature but not fully ripe.

We harvest soft fruit just before they are fully ripe and finish ripening them off the trees at room temperature. After they have reached physical maturity for eating, we can then put them in the refrigerator for longer keeping. They will store better if they are in a humid part of the refrigerator, but they still must "breathe" or they will deteriorate quickly.

We start looking for bird damage and begin our harvesting schedule just ahead of their damage. Otherwise you will have to net the trees.

Scaring devices work for about one to two weeks, but after that, the birds are no longer afraid of them. This is true of most animals that are pests to our gardens. The hungrier animals are, the more chances they will take in getting food they like.

Bob Morris is a professor emeritus in horticulture with the University of Nevada and can be reached at extremehort@aol.com. Visit his blog at

xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com.

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