As far as human food history goes tomatoes have been with us for quite some time. Well, tomatoes are not the Italian specialty that you think them to be.
This red squishy fruit is present in all the cuisines around the world. Eaten raw, mixed in salads, smashed into pulp, or roasted on wood fire- no matter how you eat it, it tastes great.
Tomatoes are also very easy to grow. If you live in the suburbs or the countryside then you may have an abundance of places to plant tomatoes.
But if you live in more crowded places or even in cities, don’t worry. Tomato gardening is very easy. You can grow tomatoes in the backyard, the sunroom, the patio, or even in your small apartment.
Also Read: While Lines on Tomato Leaves
Well if you are reading this article that means you tried. You read all the ‘how-to’ articles about growing tomatoes. You fought off all the deadly adversaries of your tomato venture.
Your fully grown green tomatoes were about to become the red delicacies. But one morning you wake up and find little holes in your fruit. You must feel devastated but we have a solution.
How do I keep birds from eating my tomatoes? is the question that keeps you up at night. Fret not; it might not even be the birds at all.
In most cases, tomatoes are harmed by pesky pests and sneaky rodents. People who lack experience with this problem often blame the birds for it. But if you are pretty sure it is a bird skip the next part.
Is It a Bird?
Do not be so sure that it is a bird. Birds usually shy away from people. But they will try to peck at your fruit if they see your window open or if you are not close to your garden. Birds are opportunists but sometimes ignorant.
But do you know who is more shy and sneaky? Who are invisible to your naked eye? The rat that lives under your base floor. The pesky mischievous rat might be taking tours at your tomato plant when you are asleep or not home.
Their best advantage is that they are nocturnal and You are not. Even if you are a night owl, they have less to fear from you. Unless you are as ferocious, predators, and sneaky as a barn owl.
There is a particular difference between the two that might help you find out who is the thief. Birds and rodents leave different types of marks on your tomato plant.
- Rodents look for food sources at night. If it is a rodent you might find the fruits harmed in the mornings. Whereas birds usually come at your tomato plants during the day. So chances of your encounter with them are very high.
- Rodents are nasty eaters. They eat like they are hungry for centuries. They will surely drop the fruit or leave a nasty crate on it. Whereas birds are pokers. They poke your fruit and eat the seeds and the insides. They will leave your fruit with single or multiple holes. Unless it is a big bird like a crow it will be easy for you to determine who ate the fruit.
- Rodents leave their poop near the plants. As nasty as it may sound you have to look for poops of some sneaky rat. What you are looking for is tiny black ball-like structures. They smell very stinky. If the infestation is caused by birds then you will find spats near your tree. Bird poop doesn’t smell much. Even if they do it is an acidic smell.
- At last open your ears. Even if you don’t pay close attention to your garden you can listen to it from anywhere. Birds will make noise around your plants. But rats make a distinct sharp and short squeaky noise.
Once you are able to identify what is causing the problem. Half your work is done. Now you can relax.
Also Read: How to: Green Tomatoes Turning Red
How to Keep Birds Away from Tomato Plants?
Ok! It was birds who were snacking on your tomatoes. But what to do, birds are always a pleasant addition to any home garden.
Birds are not always essentially too much worse if you consider it. They do help the plants to pollinate. Also if it is not a crow, Birds chirping in your backyard always look beautiful and peaceful.
For some people the problem is crows. Other birds like cardinals, brown thrush, mockingbirds, blue Jays, common sparrows, quails, etc. although look beautiful can cause huge irreversible damage.
Birds usually don’t land on home gardens to eat a tomato. They might get attracted by more small and sweeter fruits.
Some little birds will also move around your garden to pick at your garden’s hosts, worms, and other tiny pests.
Bigger birds also avoid landing in smaller gardens because of possible human interaction. The problem most people face is how to keep mockingbirds away from tomato plants.
Before the answer, let’s see why the birds are attacking your tomatoes. As mentioned, birds don’t like tomatoes more than other sweeter fruits. But they choose tomatoes if they are having a hydration problem.
Birds will never feast upon your little tomato berries or even the fully grown green ones. They will only go for the fully red or somewhat ripe ones.
Always remember birds are not your enemy. They do not harm your garden unless they have to. Tomatoes are summer plants.
During summer not only your plants but these flying creatures also need a lot of water. When they do not get it the way they used to, they attack your garden.
Also, fruits that are pecked once or twice by the birds can be eaten if you get rid of the pecked part. But do not ever eat if your locality is having a germ problem.
So do not eat fruits that are infected by rodents. Rodents carry a lot more germs than birds do. So always keep an eye on that. A Pest problem should be handled with no mercy.
Also Read: How to Grow Tomatoes from Fresh Tomatoes?
Steps to Keep Birds off Tomato Plants
Now let’s talk about the strategies to get rid of birds. Please note here getting rid means not letting them come near garden plants. Do not try to kill to poison the birds. It may harm the overall flora fauna balance of your locality. Birds are harmless and pretty. They might just need a little scaring-off.
#1 Removing the Hydration Problem
The first step you can take is removing the hydration problem. Birds eat off tomatoes when they are thirsty.
You already know that tomatoes are a good source of water, They know that too. Unless it is the mockingbirds who empty the whole garden filled with tomato. Anyway, try to provide the birds with water. it will be best for your plants and best for the birds too.
Place little pots filled with water in high pedestals where the natural predators of birds cannot reach. You can use water fountains and also some cut open jars.
But always remember to put them away from your garden so that did you not see it as an invitation. Place the water sources high enough so they are out of the range from predators like cats, snakes, or dogs.
#2 Giving an alternative food source
The problem might as well be the good old resource problem. The local birds may not be getting enough food in the Woods. Maybe your pesticides have worked good and now they don’t have anything to feed on.
So it will be better if you place some bird feeder far from your garden, in easily accessible areas for birds. If birds get food easily from the bird feeder they will not venture into your garden. But remember to provide the grains only for the birds.
You don’t want to attract rodents with open bird-food stations. Use good quality cheap grains that small birds can eat easily. With the full belly and hydrated brain, the birds will rarely disturb your tomato plants.
#3 Try to scare them off
Birds are beautiful, sneaky, and fast. But they are very light of heart. Birds can get scared very easily. There are many ways to scare birds. Here are some methods you can follow. The alternatives are placed in a list from cheaper to costlier. Rely on whatever may suit you.
- You can try the balloons. They are inexpensive. They can scare birds easily if they are a little shiny and if they keep moving. Blow some balloons to put on posts placed around your garden. Put the posts at a height where the birds start to land. Though this process is cheap it is not a long-lasting one.
- Try good old scarecrows. Buy some hay from your local farmer. Put up a human-like structure. Put on some old clothes and draw a face on it.
- Don’t Forget The Hat. Although it is a little old fashioned, scarecrows still work. You just have to move them around day to day, from one point of your garden to another or the birds will discover that it is not a threat to them.
- Try placing shiny items in the garden. You can buy bird repellent tapes that are highly reflective in sunlight. It will surely scare off the bird. But there are cheaper alternatives too. Break off some old reflective CDs and tie them on twigs with fishing lines. Birds hate shiny items.
- You can also try placing rubber made predator toys like snakes on tiny sticks. If they move around with the wind birds will surely get scared and keep their distance. If they don’t move they will soon figure out that it’s a toy.
- If you have a big budget, go hi-tech. There are some hi-tech Predator gadgets available in the supermarkets that can easily scare off birds. Buy one of those moving owls or hawks that move their head and tail and scream when the motion sensor is triggered.
- The birds will doubt the predators not being very active. But the sudden screeches when they try to get close will surely scare them. Try to place fake predators in different positions randomly. This will keep its legitimacy unscratched.
#4 Build Little Cages
This might be the most effective way to prevent birds from getting to your plants.
Surround your tomato plants with some wooden frames or cover them with reversed crates. Pin Up some metal chicken wire to close off the holes. Now the birds will not have any way to get close to your tomatoes.
However, you will be at a great disadvantage. You will have to remove the cages every time you want to work on the plants. Another problem is if your plant is still growing you will need a bigger cage in no time.
#5 Put Protections around Your Fruit
Another effective method is putting protection around the fruit but not the garden. There are several methods of doing this.
- Put shocks around the fully grown green tomatoes. This will confuse the birds.
- Put nets on the plants. This is also effective against small birds. But every day you have to check the net for any birds that have got caught. Free the birds once you spot them. Now that is less guilt for you and a warning for others.
- Put a light fence in a row and cover with fishing lines put in a zig-zag pattern. This is another effective method to protect your tomatoes. It can also work as mulches.
I think you can now protect your tomato garden or any garden from birds. As we said at the beginning It is very easy.
Always remember backyard gardening is a healthy option for you. But killing off birds will do more damage to the broader scenario. So stay away from kill-off suggestions.