10 Things That Stop Birds From Eating Garden Plants

by | Birds, Plants and Trees

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They say birds of a feather flock together, but sometimes birds just come into your yard and cause a lot of damage to your plants. I’m here to share the good news that there are quite a few things you can do to stop these plant-wrecking birds in their feathery tracks… 

To stop birds from eating your garden plants, hang shiny objects that move a lot or make a noise around your yard. You can also try enclosing your garden beds so birds can’t get to them. Fake predators are great at keeping birds away, or let your dog or cat roam the yard to scare them.

Birds can do quite a lot of damage to garden plants when they want to. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the damage to look for and list the most common types of destructive birds.

Then I’ll give you ALL my tips for keeping those pesky flying pests away from your beautiful plants. 

What damage birds do to garden plants

Photo of crow in cherry blossom tree

Just because you may not be growing things that are ‘edible’ – like fruits, vegetables, or grains – doesn’t mean birds won’t damage the plants in your yard. 

Birds damage regular garden plants in many ways, such as:

  • Stealing seeds
  • Ripping off ornamental berries
  • Pecking plants
  • Eating flower petals and buds
  • Damaging seedlings
  • Shredding leaves and petals
  • Damaging roots when digging for grubs
  • Causing damage while dust bathing or performing mating rituals

Dust bathing is when birds shake and move around in sand to remove parasites and any loose feathers from their body.

Here’s a video of some sparrows taking a dust bath:

If you start seeing damage to your flowers or plants that isn’t from bugs or rot, it may be time to look up to the sky and start watching out for birds.

Birds that damage garden plants

Birds don’t set out to hurt plants, they just do their natural thing and follow their instincts to survive. In fact, birds can also do a lot of good in your yard, like eating pests such as slugs that very difficult to keep out of your garden .

Any bird can damage your plants, but some are more likely to do so than others.

These birds are more likely to damage your garden plants than other birds:

  • Blackbirds
  • Crows
  • Doves
  • Finches
  • Magpies
  • Pheasants
  • Pigeons
  • Rooks
  • Sparrows
  • Starlings
  • Thrushes
  • Titmice
  • Woodpeckers

Some of these birds, such as crows and blackbirds, are much more likely to destroy fruits and vegetables than flowering plants, but they’ll damage those as well if they get a chance.

On the other hand, woodpeckers are usually more destructive to trees, but they can also cause many problems in your flower beds when digging in the ground for food. This can do damage your garden beds and plants’ roots.

Things that stop birds from eating your garden plants

Are you ready to tackle your bird problem? Great.

Here are the top ten most effective ways to stop any bird from damaging your garden plants….

Hang shiny objects

Hanging shiny objects from trees around the yard is a creative option for scaring away birds.

As the wind blows, these objects move and turn. When they do, they catch the sun and create flashes of blinding light that birds hate.

Here are some bright, shiny objects to hang in your garden to scare away birds:

Some people hang foil or Mylar balloons in their yard, but these can be devastating to wildlife if they get loose and are carried away in the wind. 

Hang noisy objects in your garden

Birds don’t like loud noises that they don’t understand, so one way to keep birds away from your garden plants is to hang objects around your yard that make a noise.

Loud and brassy wind chimes work best to scare away birds (but can annoy the neighbors, so don’t have your chimes near to their house).

Put spinners in your garden beds

Garden spinners, like these bird blinders from Amazon, make a lot of sudden, fast movements, flashes of light, and they can be noisy if the wind is up enough.

There are some very pretty garden spinners available and they’re easy to use – just stake them in your garden bed where there’s wind, and let the spinners do the rest.

Get garden balls

Large garden balls are a stylish feature in your yard that keeps birds out of your beds.

Garden balls, like these steel balls from Amazon, catch the light and reflect it, scaring birds away.

Cover plants with netting

Netting (Amazon link) over your plants is one of the most effective ways to keep birds off them.

Don’t leave any openings or exposed areas where birds can squeeze through the holes, and check the netting daily for any birds that might be caught in it.

Use enclosed garden beds

Another option is to build or buy enclosed garden beds, especially if you have a more established garden with fully grown plants.

Many of these beds are completely fenced with panels of chicken wire or mesh (which has smaller holes than chicken wire).

Here’s a DIY video showing how to build your own enclosed garden beds:

There are enclosed tents available, that you simply construct over your existing beds. These tents have zippered doors so you can still get to your garden plants, but the birds can’t.

Closed tents can be a little easier to work with, are often cheaper, and some people prefer the look of them to the smaller, denser enclosed panel beds. 

Use a cloche

If you have seedlings or young plants growing and you’re worried about birds getting to them, put a cloche over the plants until they’re big enough to handle the birds pecking at them.

You can make cloches from recycled materials, such as soda bottles, plastic containers, glass bottles, wire trash cans, and much more.

Here’s how to make a plant cloche with plastic soda bottles:

Put fake predators in your beds

Predators are things that eat birds, such as snakes and owls. Birds know that in order to stay alive, they have to stay away from their enemies. A fake predator is something that looks like the real predator, but isn’t.

Here’s a little trick that many gardeners use to keep birds out of their garden beds: they put fake predators around the yard.

Fake predators can be a good deterrent for birds, especially at first. Over time, birds are clever enough to work out that the predator isn’t alive or real, so try changing your predators regularly and moving them around.

These plastic snakes from Amazon are inexpensive and look a lot like the real thing. If you’re dealing with birds who peck at the ground often, fake snakes can be very effective.

Fake owls and hawks make excellent fake predators. This realistic fake owl from Amazon has a head on a spring that rotates, making it look even more realistic and scary. Switch up your fake owl with this fake hawk from Amazon.

Use bird repellent

Bird repellent spray, like this ready spray bundle, is another popular option to keep birds out of garden beds.

Spray the repellent around areas where birds hang out in your yard, to stop them from coming back. Birds don’t like the smell of, look of, or feeling of the repellent.

Just be sure to test the spray on a small area to see if it causes any damage before you use it on a larger area.

Get bird spikes

If birds are sitting on your fence or spending a lot of time on a wall or area in your yard, put bird spikes up to stop them from sitting there. These are long needle-like rods that birds can’t perch on.

You can make your own spikes from cans or fencing, or buy your spikes on Amazon.

Here’s a video showing a genius way to make bird spikes from old fencing:

Bird spikes can solve a few problems for you: they keep birds away from your garden plants and they keep some other animals out of your yard, like skunks.

Final thoughts

There are plenty of birds that are known for being destructive to crops and fruit orchards, but many of these birds, as well as others, can damage regular garden plants if given the chance.

Luckily, there are many deterrents you can use to repel birds or scare them off. 

If one method doesn’t work for you, try other options until you find the right one. After a while, birds may get to know your tricks, so change your tactics and move your deterrents around every so often. 

I'm Monique. I love gardening and spending time in my backyard growing things. Here's where I share what I know about backyard pests and what to do about them, so you can enjoy your yard too.

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Monique loves gardening and spending time in her backyard, where she grows flowers, succulents, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Monique spends a lot of time researching how to protect her backyard from harmful pests and trying to attract beneficial insects and animals.

She shares everything that she learns and tests here at Backyard Pests.


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