Bird feeder near blueberries
We have 16 healthy blueberry plants that produce a lot of fruit and attract a lot of birds. In an effort to keep the birds off the fruit we have a variety of bird scare devices on and around the plants. What we are wondering is if adding seed based bird feeders somewhere away from the blueberry plants will help by feeding the birds and causing them to leave the blueberries a bit, or will it hurt by attracting more birds to the property that will eat more of our blueberries.
Josephine County Oregon
I think offering supplemental and alternative food will attract birds, but it likely will not be enough to draw them off of your highly-nutritious and delicious blueberries. While scare-deterrents such as flash tapes, cds, and other devices can have some limited effects when new or when new birds come in, at some point the birds will habituate (literally learn to ignore) to the stimulus. Some people will put up one or more raptor perches, depending on the size of the planting, to encourage bird-hunting birds to perch in or near their berry fields. The predators' presence can help reduce the cost-benefit lure of the food. However, the best long-term solution is to invest in netting your plants prior to ripening. You don't mention which bird species have been the main problem: Something to think about in designing your netting (essentially a fence) is whether you have fly-onto-then peck or land-on-ground-then-jump up types of birds attacking your fruit. If you have a combination, it's likely best to essential frame up a box cage or walk-in enclosure over which you can stretch your nets. In commercial settings, growers will often build a set of frames and then run wires so they can stretch/pull the bird netting out and over the plants and roll it back up for harvest and tarp/cover them for over-winter storage. A super-simple deployment would be to just buy the netting (it's very low-cost) and drape it over your plants. If it's sitting directly ON berries though, realize that you'll lose some to birds that figure out they can sit-and-peck on top of the net. Removal and storage is always a bit of a pain in that case because the nets never want to fold up neatly -- I think that's a large part of why commercial growers keep it mounted on the ends of the lines, usually with rings to run on the lines, and then just bag/tarp it in place when not in use.