Birds know a good thing when they see it, and your perfectly ripe, lovingly grown backyard cherries, pears or elderberries are a mighty good thing. Fresh-picked fruit is delicious and packed with healthful vitamins and antioxidants--if you can manage to harvest and eat it before the birds do. Birds play an important role in the natural environment, consuming vast quantities of insects when they are not gorging on your fruit. Protect your fruit trees by deterring the birds with a battery of nonlethal approaches.
Watch your fruit carefully. Wait until your fruit is nearly ripe before setting out bird deterrence devices, so that the birds won't have time to get used to them.
Weight down plastic owls by filling them part way with sand. Place owls in various locations near your fruit trees, at least 4 feet off the ground--on top of fence posts, clothesline poles, roof corners or nearby sturdy tree limbs. Move the owls every third day.
Use light twine to hang discarded CDs from branches throughout the fruit trees. Use a tall ladder to reach the highest limbs.
Tie a line of heavy twine between two nearby sturdy tree limbs, porch posts or clotheslines. Put two corners of lightweight sheet over the line and tie them onto the line with twine, allowing the sheet to flap in the breeze.
Tie one tennis ball or fist-sized rock into each corner of a large square of quarter-inch mesh bird netting. Throw two corners up and over the fruit tree with the assistance of another person (one of you on each corner).
Observe your fruit trees daily to monitor the ripening process and watch for approaching birds. Hang small radios or mp3 devices from thin twine, one per tree. Turn them on during daytime hours and adjust the radios to a heavy rock station, or set the mp3 device to run a playlist of music with randomly paced songs. Turn the volume up loud.
Harvest your fruit as soon as you can when it ripens. Remove your bird deterrence devices carefully to avoid damaging tree limbs.