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How to Protect Fruit Trees from Birds

By Cindy Hill ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.


Things You Will Need

  • Battery- or solar-powered hand-held radios or mp3 devices with external speakers
  • Plastic freezer bags
  • Discarded CDs
  • Thin twine
  • Heavy twine
  • Ladder
  • Lightweight sheets
  • Plastic owls
  • Sand
  • Quarter-inch mesh bird netting (optional)
  • 4 tennis balls or fist-sized rocks


  • Check with local colleges or large business computer services directors for discarded CDs.These offices receive hundreds of promotional CDs and also dispose of outdated software discs regularly.

About the Author


A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.