My urban orchard consists of eight fruit trees in all, which provides our family with nearly 800 pounds of fruit a year. Not all that delicious fruit finds its way to the table however. Raccoon, squirrels, and birds of all types tend to loiter around the trees when the fruit nears harvest.
Keeping birds away from fruit trees can be a bit of a challenge. Not only does a fruit tree provide birds with shelter and a place to nest, it offers up a cornucopia of food ranging from fruit, to worms and tiny bugs. While the urban farmer can purchase special bird nets to wrap the fruit trees, the “greenest” solution of all is to make whirligigs and spinners from recyclables to strung up in the trees. Birds tend to be a skittish lot, and the moving shadows and reflections created by spinners do an excellent job of scaring them off.
Easy to make coiled spinners. My old neighbor, Mrs. Peterson used to string up foil pie plates in the branches of her fruit tree. Mrs. P. used not just one pie plate, but hundreds of them which blinded passing motorists as well as well as the birds! Recycled pie plates still make great bird deterrents, though I prefer cutting them into spirals instead of leaving them whole. To make a coiled spinner out of a foil pie plate, you’ll need one clean pie plate and a sharp pair of tin snips or kitchen scissors.
1. Flatten out the pie plate.
2. Starting from the edge, cut the plate into a spiral shape.
3. Pull apart the cut foil so that it is about 2 feet in length.
4. Hang from the branches of the fruit tree.
To be totally effective, it’s best to have at least one spinner per branch.
Foil streamers. Recycled foil gift wrap and aluminum foil can be used to make streamers. These bits of foil should be cut into three foot lengths measuring about an inch wide. Tie the ends of the streamers to the various branches. Foil streamers are how local fruit growers discourage birds from landing in the fruit trees.
Bells and chimes. Old sleigh bells and wind chimes will also help keep birds out of the fruit trees. If you don’t have any of your own, simple chimes can be made from old silverware. For this, just need a bunch of old stainless (this can be found at thrift stores) and strong fishing twine.
1. Tie one end of the fishing twine to one end of a fork or spoon. Repeat as often as necessary.
2. Hang the silver ware up in the fruit bearing branches, taking care to arrange them in clusters so that they bang together when a bird alights on the tree.
Shiny foil and noise are the best deterrents for keeping birds out of your urban fruit trees. By using recycled material, you can keep down the costs while saving your crop.