Cherries and birds

As you know, birds absolutely love to eat cherries. We have a few cherry trees in our little orchard and every year, it's a battle to keep them from robbing our harvest.

Last year, we covered our trees with huge sheets of floating row cover -- partly to keep the cherry fruit flies from laying their eggs on the cherries but also to keep the birds away. Unfortunately, that experiment didn't go well at all because the row cover was torn to shreds during a few windstorms. We did get some very nice cherries off the trees, though!

This year, we decided to use an organic spray containing Spinosad, called Bull's-Eye Bioinsecticide from Gardens Alive. My husband Bill has sprayed the trees every so often with it and it seems to have done a good job of keeping the extra "protein" out of the cherries, if you get my drift. I should mention that the spray is very toxic to bees, so it's important to use the spray when bees aren't out foraging. This means, do your spraying in the very early morning hours or early evening.

But there still was the bird issue... Bill got some bird scare flash tape from Ed Hume Seeds and tied short strips of it onto twine that hangs on either side of one of our pie cherry trees (you can click on the above photos to see a larger image). The tape is red on one side and silver on the other. As the wind blows, or even with a little bit of air movement, the flash tape sparkles and moves, which is supposed to scare the birds. According to Ed Hume's website, "This seems to signal danger to the birds that may associate it with fire." Interesting, eh?

So far, it seems to be working well for us. We plan to pick the rest of the cherries in the next few days, and then we'll remove the flash tape from the orchard.

This is a really important step because if we were to keep the flash tape there for a longer period of time, there is a risk that the birds would get used to it and lose their fear of it. We certainly don't want that, do we?

So if you decide to use some flash tape, remember to only hang it right before it needs to be there -- in our case, it was when the cherries started turning color -- and then remove it once you don't need to protect the crop anymore.

We have also used the flash tape in our raspberry patch to keep the birds from eating all of the berries. It works well so I'm really pleased.