Learn five ways to keep bugs off fruit trees naturally.
Do you want birds in your orchard? Some species can be very damaging to fruit and berry crops, and you will want to keep those birds off your fruit trees. But other bird species can be beneficial. These are the birds that eat insects and help keep insect pest populations under control.
In this article we will review which birds you might want in your orchard. And we'll talk about the bird bandits that you will want to keep far away from your fruit trees and other crops.
We at Orchard People encourage orchardists to install birdhouses in their orchards as a way of attracting bug-eating bluebirds or tree swallows. Each day, these birds will chow down on a multitude of flying pests that can ruin the fruit on your growing trees.
For instance, during the growing season, Eastern bluebirds eat huge quantities of insects including snails, grubs, caterpillars, insect larvae, moths and mosquitos. Many of these insects are damaging to fruit trees so Eastern bluebirds help control fruit tree pest populations. Tree swallows have a similar diet and they help keep pest populations in check. (You can learn how to attract beneficial birds to your garden in this post.)
And yet, anyone who grows fruit knows that birds can also be a nuisance in an orchard, as they peck away at the fruit growing on your trees and berry plantings. Some common bird bandits include red-winged blackbirds, cedar waxwings, American robins, common grackles, house finches and European starlings.
Over the years, researchers have developed various ways to keep birds away from our crops as part of Integrated Pest Management. You can learn all about this science and how to apply it in our online course, Integrated Pest Management for Fruit Trees.
But here are some approaches that commercial and other growers use:
One little footnote: Birds and wildlife are smarter than many of us give them credit for. So some of these methods might work for a few weeks, but when the birds figure out what's going on, they may return to plunder your growing fruit.
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Susan Poizner is an urban orchardist in Toronto, Canada and the author of Grow Fruit Trees Fast and Growing Urban Orchards. Susan trains new growers worldwide through her award-winning fruit tree care training program at Orchardpeople.com. Susan is also the host of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast and an ISA Certified Arborist.