Protecting fruit from birds

by Adam Pasco

[...] my apple crop has been pretty good on most trees, but there's just one problem. A much larger proportion of fruit than ever before has been pecked on the tree...

Blackbird pecking fallen applesDespite summer drought in my part of the East Midlands, my apple crop has been pretty good on most trees, but there’s just one problem. A much larger proportion of fruit than ever before has been pecked on the tree itself, resulting in small holes that soon lead to rotting.

Now, I’m the first person to recommend leaving windfalls for wildlife. They’re usually bruised anyway, so why not let the birds eat them, and allow insects a taste of home-grown produce. Just take care when you’re around them in case wasps buzz out and start chasing you! (Oh, how I hate wasps).

It’s that continual problem wildlife gardening: allowing creatures to have a little, but not a bite out of everything. They’re like toddlers at a birthday party, browsing the plates of food, and taking one bite out of a biscuit then putting it back on the plate and moving on to something else.

In previous years I may have noticed a few fruits with pecks taken out of them, but this year it’s been about half the fruits on my early ripening ‘Ellison’s Orange’ apple.

I love blackbirds, but this autumn they’re pushing their luck! What’s to be done? Perhaps they’ve just been struggling to find food elsewhere, and my fruits have come to their rescue. If that’s the case then who am I to deny them food? After all, that’s what sharing your garden with wildlife should be all about, shouldn’t it?

Or am I deluding myself, and these mischievous blackbirds have not got a taste for delicious organically grown apples, and I’m just feeding their indulgence?

Perhaps it’s not just the blackbirds, and others are to blame. Now I really don’t want to accept that all the wildlife in the garden I’ve worked so hard to encourage is now turning against me.

What’s to be done? Large sheets of netting? Shiny reflective scarers? Getting a cat ... no that’s really going too far, and Magic (our dog) is not going to share the sofa (or my lap) with anyone.

Have you experienced this problem and found a solution? You know where to leave your comments.

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/10/2010 at 18:46

Not me! Mainly because the wasps beat the birds to my fruit.... that is, all those that haven't already fallen prey to codling moth grubs. But part-eaten fruit are still good for juicing (once the nibbled bits have been cut away). And like Ryan, I leave/put on the ground all those fruit that are too nibbled for all the other wildlife to enjoy. Actually, I've found much less trouble with pears - proably because you pick them before they're ripe, so beating the birds to the bounty.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/10/2010 at 19:07

Hello Adam, I have had the very same problem with apples, i have had the crows eating them from the tree. I am not so philosophical about it as you are, in fact i was near to shooting them. I have solved it by tying hazardous tape to the trees! The yellow/black or red/black tape. It looks ugly but seems to work for me. Polly

Gardeners' World Web User 11/10/2010 at 09:39

Nice idea Polly. Not the best looking solution, but if it works .....

Gardeners' World Web User 13/10/2010 at 16:42

Where can I buy green manure seeds in the Poole, Wimborne, Dorset area?

Gardeners' World Web User 13/10/2010 at 17:56

Reply to Lynne: I'd buy it by mail-order from one of the seed companies. Most of them sell green manure seeds, so just do a Google search to find a supplier.

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