Seeking bird net advice

charleskozJune 26, 2012

Hey all,

So I was getting some blueberries for the first time this year. There were a couple of birds getting into the bushes but they weren't taking much and it didn't bother me a great deal. But I just went out there today and the bushes were stripped of nearly every berry even reasonably close to being ripe.

Nets seem the obvious solution, with the two options to be to drape over the bushes or enclose the bushes.

I've read countless horror stories from people who draped the bushes -- the netting gets stuck, it's difficult to get off at the end of the season, it damages new growth, critters get stuck in it.

So I looked at enclosing. I have an advantage here in that I already have the area enclosed on four sides with netting hanging from a metal superstructure. So it would just require closing in the top while the berries are fruiting.

My concerns are mainly that birds will still find some way to get in and then will get stuck, or that they will land on the netting not realizing it is there and get stuck. (Imagine a net 15' x 35' sitting horizontally 7' off the ground.)

Before I shell out $30+ for a net... was hoping for some ideas from you more experienced folks. Thanks. :)

Best regards,

Charles

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myk1(5 IL)

I got some plastic fence that's like 1/4" hardware cloth. I sew my netting out of that and then use PVC either as tent poles or hoop house supports.

I did have a sparrow get into my raspberries yesterday because I haven't sewed it up but it never got stuck.

I think it was about $20 for a 4x50' roll at Menards (hardware department store).

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:26PM
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charleskoz

Thanks, seems like a good idea, but that would cost me a fortune. :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:39PM
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myk1(5 IL)

Well I can warn you from my lowest level of strawberries, if the birds can push the net to a berry and eat it through the net they will. And that's with small squares.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:05PM
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charleskoz

Yeah that's why I want to do it up high above the bushes. But I'm concerned about birds getting stuck in the netting since it will cover a large area.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:35PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Birdnettings are snares for birds!
Row cover works very good for me, very light and easy getting it off, got them over the Honeyberries now, birds can see them much better and never attempt getting in.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:53PM
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ltilton

Think of it as evolution in action.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:21PM
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denninmi(8a)

I bought 40% white shade poly shade cloth from Gempler's a few years back. Pricey, yes. But it doesn't catch at all on the bushes, goes on easily without any helpers, just me, doesn't rip or tear, and should last at least 25-30 years, comes with a 20 year warranty for year-round use, and I only use about 2 months per year. The entire 20 x 100 foot lot of it rolls up to fit inside a large garbage can for storage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Best thing I ever found for covering my blueberries

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:03PM
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steve_in_los_osos

I've had a bird netting covered enclosure (big rectangular box of a structure) for two years now and have never had a bird become tangled in it. I did have one get in and had to help flush it out, but that's because I do not have the bottom sealed. Before I built the structure I never saw more than a small handful of berries. Now we are getting a good picking every few days.

I'm guessing, but I think the chance for birds becoming tangled increases a lot if the netting is loose rather than taut.

I'm tired of crawling around under my short structure so I've decided to build a taller one, this based on a PVC hoop house design but covered with netting (remember, bees need to be able to get in and they can't do that through row cover; if you have bushes that bloom over a long period while others are ripening, you can't really use row cover for protection). Just finished the door today and will start covering with net tomorrow. Yipee!! Raspberries and strawberries will live there too.

Sorry birds. There's plenty of wild blackberries around and you're welcome to all the bugs you want from my garden.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:29PM
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alan haigh

If you are going to make an enclosure, make a solid, rot resistant, doored frame, roomy enough to walk around in, and use 1" black plastic covered chicken wire with enough support to withstand heavy wet snow, buried a few inches. Then enjoy hassle free blueberry picking for the next thirty years. Except that chipmunks can squeeze through 1" (rat traps and almonds).

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 6:13AM
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moggy_moo(6B)

I built a wooden framed enclosure with a door last year. I used extra heavy plastic netting. I have a framing member tight down to the ground and the netting wraps under that, so it is very well sealed. Until this year. The gray catbirds are completely single minded about getting in there. They are biting through the netting! So I have to check and repair every day, some days 2-3 times. I may have to go to all chicken wire. They watch each other to learn the process. I have found no other types of birds getting inside. So frustrating since I am in PA and blueberries are extremely easy to grow (I have never had an issue with disease or insect pests, and they bear very heavily)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 6:36AM
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alan haigh

Catbirds are a horror. You can also try the woven propalyne netting that vinyardists use. I use a double stranded type to protect cherries and my heavy catbird population has never figured it out.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 11:26AM
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denninmi(8a)

Well, you know, birds will still get in once in a while. I used to keep a butterfly net with long handle to help catch them, and could usually either catch them or drive them back out.

It only takes 4 and 20 blackbirds for a pie. Should be easy to harvest that many.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 11:57AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I would definitely go for a rigid fruit cage if you possibly can. I cannot forget finding a blackbird's leg in my raspberry net one year. Just a leg. I leave the rest of the story to your imagination.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 1:30PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Funny, just saw this thread, and today I realized that I have a minor bird problem with my blueberries. Threw some plastic netting over it as a temporary fix. Will have to do more research on a permanent solution. There was a chickadee in the bush chowing down on a berry, and when I tried to scare it away it just looked at me insulted. I also saw a robin on the fence with a berry in it's beak, it swallowed the berry, pooped, and flew away. Hey, I thought robins likes worms?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 4:20PM
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charleskoz

Wow. Funny that people are mentioning catbirds. We actually hav one or two of those eating the berries! I had been ignoring it since it wasn't taking much... I thought it was other birds that had discovered the bushes the other day.

And to thicken the plot further, I found a chipmunk on one of my bushes today as well...

Looks like I've got some work ahead.

Appreciate all the replies.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 5:14PM
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alan haigh

Chipmunks are hell on blueberries when they are present. You've no idea how much a single one of those stripped rats can put away. If you see one there's probably a dozen.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 8:01PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Catbirds? How 'bout a couple of cats for those birds. Our cat is a fairly good bird repeller.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 1:03PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Yesterday after seeing a video on YouTube about someone who made blueberry plant covers out of some old wedding tulle (the stuff you make the vails out of), we went to Hobby Lobby and bought a bolt of the stuff for 22 bucks. Used an online coupon for 40% off. After my wife spent 1 hour on the sewing machine, we had 2 nice, slip over covers for our 2 large bushes. They slip on/off/and lift up easily, no snagging. You should have seen the looks on the birds faces this morning. They landed on the fence and looked for the available blueberries as usual. They seemed disappointed and confused and flew away. I'm curious to see if they try and peck through the stuff, but so far so good.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

The same happened to my Honeyberries.
That's the advantage, just like my row covers, birds can clearly see that something has changed drastically!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:09PM
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sharppa(6)

Here is a picture of my latest net. We've had only one bird in is this year vs. 10-20 or so last year. The big difference is I upgraded the vinyl/metal bottom fence from 1x2" fence to the 1/2" fence. Maybe the birds can find a way under the netting but they don't seem smart enough to get up over the 1/2" fence. 7 plants and we've had at least 10 quarts this year so far.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 11:23AM
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