How To Stop Birds From Pecking and Ruining Your Tomatoes

Birds see the ultraviolet colors reflected from tomatoes as tomatoes begin to ripen. Tomatoes have a way coating on their skins that reflect ultraviolet green and as the tomato ripens, ultraviolet yellow, ultraviolet orange, and ultraviolet red. Hungry and thirsty birds can easily see the changing colors of ripening tomatoes. Looking for nourishment, birds peck the ripening tomatoes thus ruining your tomato crop.

11 Ways To Keep Birds Away From Your Ripening Tomatoes

  1. Use a Small Fruit Cage
  2. Use Bird Netting with holes smaller if your finger can poke through the netting’s holes.
  3. Use Organza Bags
  4. Add A Bird Bath
  5. Add A Bird Feeder With Nuts and Seeds for Nutrition
  6. Grow Lots of Hummingbird’s Favorite Flowers.
  7. Place Shiny, Colorful Reflector Tapes Across Your Small Garden
  8. Use Old CDs for Reflection and Noise
  9. Place Fake Predators Around Your Tomato Plants
  10. Scarecrows May Also Be Handy At Keeping Birds at Bay
  11. Pick Tomatoes Just As They Start to Ripen.

Use a Small Fruit Cage To Enclose Your Tomato Plant

Although pricey, enclosing tomato plants in small fruit cages allows tomatoes to can grow undisturbed with garden mesh or hardware cloth that keeps birds outside the cage and away from your tomatoes. The cages provide you with easy access to your tomato plants while keeping birds from eating your tomatoes.

Small fruit cages can be expensive but are constructed to be used year to year spreading the initial investment over several years. Reducing the losses from bird eaten and pecked tomatoes may offset some of the cost of fruit cages.

Fruit cages are lightweight and typically need supports to stabilize them especially from wind and storms. Pegs and weights can help to stabilize and secure fruit cages. Stabilizing the fruit cage with weights and pegs can keep the cage from blowing over in a windy and heavy rain storm. Anchoring the fruit cage to the ground may further stabilize the fruit cage.

You can build your fruit cage yourself. Notice that some of the poles are attached to wooden posts anchored in the ground. Here is one way you may like to build a fruit cage. If you can put your finger through the bird netting holes, find and use netting with smaller holes.

Use Bird Netting with Holes Smaller Than Your Finger

Covering the tomato with bird netting can be an effective way to keep birds out of your tomato garden.

But bird netting can be dangerous for small birds and animals.

Check out the sizes of the holes in the bird netting. Do not use bird netting that you can poke your finger through. Small birds are very small, many weighing less than 1/2 ounce. Small birds become injured in bird netting by getting their necks caught in the holes and getting their feet and wings tangled in the netting. Often these injured birds die due to their injuries.

Tomatoes Growing Under Small Holed Bird Netting

Here are a few tips that help ensure that the bird netting technique is successful. Use bird netting with holes smaller than you finger can fit into.

  1. Keep bird netting taunt. Birds and animals can easily get tangled in loose bird netting.
  2. Use frames to hang the bird netting away from the tomato plant.
  3. Many gardeners use simple frames with fishing line to hold the bird netting over a row of tomato plants.
  4. Place the bird netting far enough away from the tomato plant to completely deny a bird access to the tomato plant. Keep bird netting taunt.
  5. There should be plenty of room vertically and horizontally for the tomato plant to grow..
  6. Use frames sturdy enough to withstand wind and storms.
  7. Anchor the frames to the ground for support and stabilization.
  8. Add an entry to provide easy access for you to harvest your tomato.
  9. Install netting so that the netting does not easily tangle. Keep bird netting taunt.
  10. Be sure to secure the bird netting to the ground. If there is but one small opening, small birds can go underneath the bird netting to get to the tomatoes from the ground.
  11. Eliminate excess bird netting on the ground to avoid injury by tangling birds and small animals in the excess netting.
  12. Rabbits and other small animals can get tangled in bird netting too. Deer can also get tangled in bird netting. Sometimes if birds and small animals get past the bird netting and into the plant area, they cannot get out and may die in your small garden.

Use Organza Bags

An alternative option to garden mesh is to place a organza craft bag over the tomatoes. Some gardeners have had success with the organza craft bags saying that the birds cannot get to the tomatoes and therefore do not peck the tomatoes.

Waxy tomato skins reflect UV colors of yellow, orange, pink and red of ripening tomatoes. Birds can see the UV colors of yellow, orange, pink and red. Organza bags may block enough of the reflective UV color of ripening tomato skins to keep your tomatoes from finding the ripening tomatoes.

A master gardener did not recommend using organza bags to protect tomatoes. “My birds pecked right through them and damaged the fruit.” If the organza bag touches the tomatoes, the bag will no longer block the UV reflective colors of the ripening tomatoes. The birds will see the tomatoes and easily peck them.

Add a Bird Bath

During the hot days of summer, two important events happen simultaneously. Birds become thirsty and tomatoes start to ripen.

Many gardeners place a bird bath near tomato garden. Adding a solar water fountain is recommended to bring the bird’s attention to the bird bath. A solar fountain will also help to keep the water clean. Another recommendation is to add a perch on the bird bath, like a rock for the bird to stand on. A perch will allow the thirsty bird easy access to the water. Typically thirsty birds will go to an easily accessible bird bath first. If birds quench their thirst first at the bird bath, they no longer seek out your juicy tomatoes.

Remember to clean your bird bath frequently and correctly. Provide clean fresh water.

Add a Bird Feeder With Nuts and Seeds For Nutrition

Get a bright yellow bird feeder. Yellow will attract the bird’s attention more than a brown or even a green bird feeder. Remember you are competing with the colors of ripening tomatoes, yellow and orange. Fill the bird feeder with the best seeds for birds. Add nuts for great nutrition too. These tips will attract birds to the bird feeders.

Place bird feeders in open areas strategically around the garden to divert hungry birds’ attention away from ripening tomatoes. Bird feeders should be easily accessible and easy for the birds to spot.

Nuts and seeds provide better nutrition for the birds that tomatoes do. After eating nuts and seeds at your bird feeder, birds are less inclined to eat your tomatoes.

Be sure to clean your bird feeder frequently and correctly.

Grow Lots of Hummingbird’s Favorite Flowers

Hummingbirds frequented our backyard even building nests in a tree close to our tomato plants. When the tomatoes were red and ripened, we had small perfect beak holes in our tomatoes. So disappointing. We had no other source of food for the hummingbirds except a hummingbird feeder.

These red tomatoes were at the tip of the tomato branches. Branches not strong enough for even a small bird to sit and peck the tomato. The tomatoes were not caged where the birds could sit and peck the tomatoes. And there was plenty of room for flying Hummingbirds to hover close enough to the tomatoes to easily peck the sweet, juicy tomatoes. We are convinced that Hummingbirds do peck red tomatoes. These pecked tomatoes were red ripe and ready for harvest.

So we suggest growing lots of the Hummingbird’s favorite flowers. To deter Hummingbirds from pecking ripe red tomatoes, we recommend many red flowers that Hummingbirds love. We further recommend that these red flowers be easily and safely accessible for Hummingbirds. If the Hummingbirds have amble food elsewhere, they will be less likely to peck your red tomatoes.

Add Shiny, Colorful Reflector Tapes

The colors and changing light will affect the bird’s focus, and they will fail to see the tomatoes. Reflector tapes work for small skittish birds but don’t seem to distract or scare the larger birds, like cardinals, robins, mockingbirds, etc. Changing the location of the reflector tapes often will bring greater success to this technique.

Use Old CDs for Reflection and Noise

You can also dangle old CDs around your tomato plants. Dangle 2 CD’s close together from fishing wire for noise to scare small birds away. Also the refection from the CDs helps to deter birds from getting close to your tomatoes. Birds will observe any changes in reflection due to wind and sunlight reflecting off the CDs and may stay away. Place the dangling CDs no wider than 12 inches apart. Again, frequent change the location of the CDs is needed for the success of this technique.

Place fake predators around your tomato plants.

Fake Owls May Scare BIrds

Birds scare easily, so they will keep away when they see fake owls, falcons, or even an inflated snake around the garden.  Fake predators are somewhat successful but after a while, the birds learn that the fake predator is fake and are no longer afraid. Moving the location of fake predators around the tomatoes sometimes will aid in keeping smaller birds away.

Scarecrows may also be handy at keeping birds at bay

Scarecrow May Scare Birds

However, you must change the position of the scarecrow frequently to keep the birds from realizing the scarecrow is static. Changing the clothing often and the location of the scarecrow in the garden frequently also helps.

Pick Tomatoes Just As They Start To Ripen

Pick tomatoes once they start changing color from green to orange or yellow or slightly pink to keep birds from peaking your tomatoes. When tomatoes are partially green or half-color or partially pink, the tomatoes no longer get nourishment from the tomato plant. When tomatoes change color, they have reached their maximum size and are ready for harvest. The tomatoes should be firm, not hard. 

If the tomatoes are protected from birds and other pests, you can leave them on the plant until they become ripe. However, if the tomatoes are exposed, it is best to harvest them when they begin to turn orange, yellow or red. 

Read more: How To Stop Birds From Pecking and Ruining Your Tomatoes

Can You Eat A Tomato That A Bird Has Pecked?

How Do Birds Know When Tomatoes Are Beginning to Ripening?

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