Birds are eating all my cherries

Asked May 25, 2020, 1:47 AM EDT

What is the best eco-friendly bird deterrent? Birds consume all the ripe cherries in my tree before I have a chance to get to them. I am in Corvallis, OR.

Benton County Oregon

1 Response

Netting is the tried-and-true solution to bird feeding on cherries. I've done it:
  • The smaller the tree, the easier the netting is to apply.
  • It requires at least 1 partner, a ladder, and long poles. Bamboo is great.
  • If the tree is larger than the netting is wide, you can sew multiple widths of netting together with string or yarn.
  • After the cherries are picked, remove the netting, roll, and store for next year.
OSU has an extension publication coming out soon - but not soon enough for you. This is from a sidebar in that publication. Note that there is very little research data on this - consider it hearsay.
Some growers in the Columbia Plateau have experimented with sugar water sprays to deter bird damage to cherries, and swear by it. Research indicates that repeated exposure to sucrose (table sugar) and its impact to the gut of birds establishes an aversive response to sucrose, and that this aversion becomes more powerful with increasing concentrations of sucrose.
To make 1 gallon of sucrose spray solution:
  1. mix 2 quarts of water with 5 pounds of table sugar
  2. heat until the sugar dissolves
  3. add water to make one gallon
Apply sugar spray as fruit begins to ripen and reapply after rain. We have little data about the impact of sugar sprays on ripening fruit or whether they increase fungal or insect pressure.

Best of luck.