The Q&A Archives: Robins and Cherries

Question: How can I keep robins from eating all of the cherries off my cherry tree? Is there any other solution besides a net?

Answer: For small fruits and isolated trees, netting is the most effective way to reduce bird damage. In most cases, netting is placed directly over the plants or bushes, but for some fruits, such as the highbush blueberry, a framework is built and the netting is suspended over the frame. Among netting?s major disadvantages are that it has a high initial cost, is time-consuming to apply, and is inconvenient to work around. Although netting is expensive, it can be reused for a number of years if removed carefully and stored over winter. If you are deciding whether to use netting, you need to consider the costs of netting and installation relative to losses from bird damage.

Scare Tactics and Noise Devices: Many growers use visual scare devices and noisemakers to frighten birds away from fruit crops. Visual scare devices include streamers, spinners, aluminum pie tins, plastic owl and snake models, and scare-eyes (large balloons with eyes painted on them). Such devices are most effective when used in conjunction with sound. Visual scare devices should be changed regularly so birds do not learn they are harmless. Varying locations, colors, and types of scare devices used enhances their effectiveness. Noise devices also are available. Cannons, exploders, sirens, and other noisemakers work best when the sound is presented at irregular intervals and the sound source is moved frequently. Taped distress calls are more effective, but the calls are usually species specific, making it necessary to obtain a tape of distress calls of the specific birds causing the damage. A problem with both visual and scare tactics is that birds become accustomed to them over time.

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