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Don’t Let Your Blueberries Go to the Birds!

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Better ways for keeping birds out of blueberries!

We’ve come up with a simple and inexpensive technique for keeping birds out of blueberries (and other berries too). Instead of netting, we’re now using sheer, semi-opaque curtain panels and clothes pins.

That’s because, these hold up to wind and rain.

And they’re easy to open and close.

Plus, they’re inexpensive and reusable.

Too, they keep the birds out without catching them in annoying bird netting!

Watch our 2-minute video showing how we’re keeping birds out of blueberries.

Want to pick up the gear you just learned about?

Following are a few affiliate links to quickly get you to gear we use to keep birds out of blueberries (and other berries too)!

(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)
Sheer Curtain Panels

Wooden Clothes Pins

Another Option: Easy zipper no-net bags to keep birds out of blueberries

We’ve also found no-net exclusion bags are also great for keeping birds out of blueberries. Plus, they’re easy to drape over other berries like strawberries! And sometimes they’re easier to access than unclipping clothes pins from sheer curtains. However, the material tends to be a bit heavier than the sheer drapes. And the ties to cinch the bottoms closed don’t often work well in our experience. Plus, while the zipper systems may seem easy to open and close, they do catch sometimes. So they can be challenging. Still, we do use these tools on some of our blueberries, elderberries, and strawberries to keep birds from eating our berries!

Zippered Plant Protection Bags
(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)

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When is the best time to keep birds out of blueberries?

You may be wondering when is the best time to protect your blueberries from birds. That’s probably because you realize that pollinators need to reach blueberry flowers so that the berries themselves will form.

In fact that means there are some birds you probably want to have reach your blueberries. And those are hummingbirds!

So that means timing is really important when you’re wrapping your berry bushes. Ideally, wrap them after the flowers have been pollinated but before the fruits show any sign of ripening.

And if you’d like to learn more about attracting hummingbirds to your garden, check out this sneak peek of our Growing a Hummingbird Habitat Garden online seminar for FREE and be sure to sign up so you’re notified as soon as the full program is next available!

Want to see an example of a hoop house enclosure for blueberries?

Reader Steve E. wrote to use privately asking for more information about building a hoop house for blueberries. He says:

“I have about 10, 4′ blueberry plants planted in a clump. I watched your video about the curtain sheets. At the end you quickly mentioned what sounded like a “hoop”. The comment went by so fast, I’m not sure what you are talking about. Can you let me know? Just saw a catbird in the berries this am. I agree the netting is not the way to go.”

To clarify, a “hoop” refers to building a hoop house style greenhouse around berry bushes. But instead of wrapping it in plastic, which would build too much heat for berry bushes, we’d wrap a hoop with something more breathable like fleece or the same curtains.

Check out a photo example of a fleece wrapped hoop house here.

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Still interested in bird netting for keeping birds out of blueberries?

Yep, it’s about that time when the fruit begins to turn from green to pale gray and then suddenly dots of deep purple-blue cover the shrubs. And, we humans aren’t the only ones watching for the day those sweet orbs are ready to devour. All sorts of wild birds are out there keeping an eye on our crops, too.

Keep birds out of blueberries

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to keep birds out of your blueberry patch. All it takes is a bit of temporary netting. And now’s the time to wrap your shrubs in this simple, near-invisible material. But, really, our newer method in the video is our favorite way to keep birds out of our blueberry patch.

Tips on how & when to work with netting.

Although netting could go up earlier in the season, when shrubs are in bloom, we tend to wait until the fruits are a bit more formed. Blooms tend to easily break free from the bushes under the simplest touch, and without those flowers, no fruits would form. Not-quite-ripe berries, on the other hand, are usually more tightly attached to the shrubs, and while fragile, don’t seem to break off as readily. So, that’s when we put out the netting.

Birds on blueberry flowers

Covering a blueberry bush in netting is fairly simple. Unroll (or if you’re recycling last year’s netting, untangle) your netting, so it will roll out relatively easily. You don’t want to be struggling with it a lot as you’re putting it over the delicate branches and fruit.

Carefully drape the netting over the entire bush or patch, taking care to tuck the edges of the fabric around all of the fruit. If possible, cover the plant all the way to the ground or some wily birds will hop under the netting and gorge themselves from underneath.

And, that’s about it.

Here are reasons we don’t like bird netting anymore…

Keep an eye on the patch and the netting. Some dingbat birds — especially new fledglings — may still try to get to your fruit, tangling themselves in the netting along the way. We caught a young robin in our netting a few years back and were able to set it free. We have heard tales of other gardeners finding dead birds strangled in netting.

Also, netting makes harvesting more difficult.

If you do choose to use bird netting for keeping birds out of blueberries…

When your fruit is ripe, and you’re ready to harvest, carefully lift the netting away from your fruit to pick. Or, duck under the netting as you go. As the fruit becomes more ripe, its attachment to the branch also weakens with the intent being to release the seed-filled fruit to the soil where it may form a baby plant. So, try to disturb the netting only minimally to reduce the risk of breaking off ripening fruit.

After your harvest is over, you’re free to remove the netting and store it for the following year. Or, move it from the finished blueberries to other fruit that ripens later — perhaps a late season blueberry patch, goji berries or even your blackberries. If you don’t get to removing the netting right away, don’t worry about it. It’s easy enough to take off your plants when you’re raking up leaves in autumn

55 comments on “Don’t Let Your Blueberries Go to the Birds!

  1. Garden Mentors on

    Laura, I’m sorry to hear the birds are winning the battle. Check the comments on this post. There are many who have chimed in with their great ideas for cages. Good luck!

  2. Mary Taylor on

    My method is to purchase a roll of wire fencing and cut it to form circular cages around each blueberry bush. When the berries are at a near-ripe stage, I drape netting over each cage and use pinch-type clothespins to fasten. The netting is difficult to handle, but this method is the best I’ve found to date.

  3. Mary Necel on

    we are using bridal veil it’s 108″ wide and can be bought by the yard in most fabric stores . We staked the ends down to keep from blowing off. Currently the branches are loaded with berries!

  4. Jo on

    “..heard tales of other gardeners finding dead birds strangled in netting. Such is the cost of living in the great outdoors, I suppose.”

    No, and a disappointing attitude to be honest. It’s the cost of gardeners not pulling netting tight. Very easy to avoid.

    (Broken url removed by administrator)

  5. Garden Mentors on

    Thanks for your comment Jo. Unfortunately, the url you included in your post is broken & has been removed. If you have a better link to share, please comment again.

  6. Cathy on

    What size wire mesh should I buy. For my blueberry enclosure? Will poultry mesh let birds in? Should I use 1/2” x 1/2” to be sure?

  7. Garden Mentors on

    Cathy, sight unseen it’s difficult to make specific recommendations. Chicken wire comes in several sizes, and small birds can get through many of them. Very small openings are probably your best bet. Good luck!

  8. Carolyn on

    I have used the ‘bird netting’ that is shown. It was 100% effective at netting birds! I tried Tulle but it does not last more than one season. I have seven very old bushes.
    I do everything to keep them Bearing fruit, It is a big job! I do not wish to give the fruit over to the birds AND i do not wish to kill the birds that come to my yard.

    This year I will be using Mosquito netting from the ARMY/NAVY Surplus store.

    This netting is made to withstand the out of doors without trapping animals.

  9. Lee t. Henry on

    well i already have chicken wire all around but not good enough so i can only think of leaving a radio on in the day see how that goes a little while i am going to see if i can buy another roll of the netting i got some around not good enough well i am going to use it after the garden is done ..surround it good for next yr the protection i got i also use it to let my pole beans go up & over so works out good is strong enough so in fall will put new net up & use what i got ..

  10. Charlene on

    Mosquito netting! Great idea. We have enough from a gazebo-tent type of enclosure that we don’t use. So glad I didn’t throw that out! And it won’t cost me anything except the time to put it up! Thank you!

  11. Susan on

    Netting is problematic for me. The birds try their best to get in, and some succeed, but can’t get out. I’ve freed most but 2 died trying to get out. Then, picking berries is also a problem without unripe berries coming off from. I’m going to build a cage with a door for next season.

  12. Diane LaSauce on

    I use tulle…the widest I can find at fabric store. Drape and tuck and keep in place with clothes pins. A bit of a hassle during daily harvest, but it works well.
    Bird netting is too injurious to wild birds (once a hummer got stuck half in half out of mesh and fortunately I heard its cries and rescued it. I do not use any more. Also snakes can get caught and die a horrible death. Since my blueberries are in the garden landscape, permanent, hard structures are not an option. Looking online, no options are better than tulle. Tulle will last more than one season and can be laundered and stored in the shed.

  13. Jan on

    I use a pair of old sheer curtains clipped closed at bottom with clothespins. Sun gets in to ripen berries, birds can’t get snagged or fly up from underneath when bottom is closed. My biggest problem is remembering where I stored the curtains over the winter!

  14. Kristin Aiello on

    We have ten high bush blueberries which we secured with netting early in the season to keep the birds out. We had used netting last year and it worked well. This year has been particularly great for the berries–we have harvested many bags for immediate eating and also for freezing. Yesterday, though, when we went out to pick berries and harvest vegetables in our nearby garden, we discovered a bird hanging upside down in the netting, dead. Clearly, it had struggled mightily; its neck and wing appeared broken and the netting was wound tight around its leg. A profoundly sad sight. Truth be told, we’d rather let the birds have their share than leave this netting, which became a death trap for this bird. We removed the netting immediately, threw it away, and will not replace it. Thank you for alternative ideas that will not cause harm to birds and other animals who may get trapped in it.

  15. Garden Mentors on

    Kristin, thanks for sharing your sad story. I’m glad to know you’re getting such a great harvest and that, like us, you’re looking at new crop protection methods. These clothes pinned sheets have worked absolutely perfectly for us. The birds have zero interest approaching the big, billowy white puffs. And, it’s so easy to harvest this way. Much easier than through sticky netting. Good luck changing things up and keep enjoying your bountiful harvest!

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