How to Keep the Birds from Eating Your Tomatoes

Tomato Runway, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Bring them inside!

Is there any disappointment greater than finding the tomato for which you waited and worked and watched HALF EATEN BY A BIRD!?!?

This sad situation has deflated me more than once. Solutions I have heard about include creating physical barriers like nets, hanging fake snakes, and tieing old CDs near to the plant to blind the birds with sunlight.

The net sounds like a lot of trouble, and I doubt the effectiveness of fakery. The grackels around here seem smart and plentiful.  I heard about my solution on the Neil Sperry radio show.  Am I allowed to love the Dirt Doctor and still respect Neil???

He suggests bringing the tomatoes in just as they start to turn and letting them ripen on a sunny windowsill.


So far this has worked out great. They seem to turn red in a day or two. These photos are from a week or so ago and I have around 40 newer ones out there now, mainly from a single “Husky Red Cherry” tomato plant.  I have been eating a cherry tomato and cucumber salad every day.

I imagine they do not taste quite as nice as straight off the vine, but if I don’t wish to share with the birds this is the best I’ve figured out thus far.

Does anyone else have suggestions for keeping birds out?


17 responses to “How to Keep the Birds from Eating Your Tomatoes

  1. I don’t have bird problems, it’s the insects that do the damage around my garden. Have you had blossom end rot? It’s where the bottom of the tomato turns brown. I’ve had to pull several tomatoes because of this. Suggestions?

    • First pull all the effected fruit. Then, use a good high-calcium organic fertilizer and try to be more consistent with your watering. This has worked for my San Marzano Romas this year and my Early Girls last year. I also heard that if you throw your coffee and eggshells in your garden plot at the end of the season, they’ll supplement the soil for next spring. I’m going to try it!

  2. You should look at some of those kitties on Craig’s List. They could patrol the garden for you.

  3. I’m having the same issues with grackles that you are… and I think I have an almost identical square foot setup (which has not been working terribly well for me; the tomatoes crushed pretty much all the other plants in the raised beds).

    I’ve heard that the birds are really looking for a source of water, and that if you put a birdbath nearby they won’t go for the tomatoes. I’ve also heard of putting nylons over the tomatoes as they’re ripening. But my solution so far has also been to bring them inside. I’ve got about 40 tomatoes ripening on my windowsills! (And really, I haven’t found the taste diminished by it, rather than picking them straight off the vine.)

  4. Link to first tomato harvest:

    My cucumbers are all weird. They blow up on one end but never quite expand to the other end. They look like mutant question marks.

  5. I have not had trouble with tomatoes with blossom end rot, but one of my pepper got it.

    Sounds like even watering is the key. Maybe a drip system will help.

  6. Randy in Amarillo

    I have used inflatable snakes and owls and they seem to work fine if you move them around and don’t allow birds to get used to them in one place.
    You can use apples, which emit eythelene gas, to help ripen tomatoes.
    Blossom end rot is normally a result of either a calcium deficiency in the soil or uneven moisture (too wet followed by too dry). Remedies might include adding calcium to the soil, in the form of chemicals, or maybe crushed egg shells. To control moisture, use a heavy layer of mulch, 5 – 6 inches, which will also reduce the need for frequent waterings as well as reduce the weeds that can haunt gardens.
    I have enjoyed your articles in the paper … Marcie has sent me several. Green thumbs!

  7. The birds are looking for water..the birdbath idea is great or just leave pans of water for them to drink from. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency. Too much rain washes the calcium out of the soil whereas too little rain burns up the calcium in the soil. Mulch your plants, to evenly control water…only water the bottom of the plants never the leaves and there are several very good products available that you spray on the new tomatoes every week or so. Remember spray the Tomatoes themselves with these products…not the leaves.
    Gary…the Tomato guy

  8. Buy the way…if the critters are messing with your garden, there is a terrific product that I just discovered called Plant Skydd. It is available as an RTU or a shaker container. I prefer the shaker because it is safe to apply directly to your plants but you can also lay down a barrier around your garden plot. This product is made with predator fermones and actually keeps the critters from even entering your garden. It is applied every 3 months or after an unusually drastic downpour. People this stuff works on everything except birds and ground hogs. Nothing works on ground hogs except maybe a gun.

  9. the grackels ate my young plants when they were just put in the ground.
    they carried them off leaf by leaf and i later seen the culprit carrying a huge vine in its beak off into the the sunset. grackels are one tuff bird and i have seen them bully blue jays right off the bird feeder and they are a lot like crows in the ways they can crack nuts and use their beaks just like pliars.
    good luck with them ……

  10. don’t know if it works well with birds, but i’ve heard making a concoction of habanero peppers boiled in water and sprayed on the plant and tomatoes will wield off rabbits or possums. never tried it myself but i think birds are immuned to hot stuff

  11. I was so disappointed when I pulled my first two ripe tomatoes that they were half eaten. They were at the bottom of the plants which are pretty thick so I didn’t think it could be birds. However, the only bug I have found is a tiny black oblong beetle on one of the tomatoes that were half eaten. My kitty isn’t any help. Guess I will pull the two other green tomatoes I have spied.

  12. The Red-Legged Thrush is eating my tomatoes far before they have ripened. They aren’t looking for water – I have 4 water trays in my back yard for the various birds that might otherwise drink from my pool. Those birds actually like the green unripened fruit.

    I have tried various things and have concluded that the only solution is a physical barrier – or shooting them (which I won’t do!). Cats don’t work for me because they eat the other birds as well as the lizards (which control the insects).

    Next winter (the local growing season) I will build a screened in greenhouse which will eliminate the bird, rodent and most insect issues – the challenges of growing in the tropics.


  13. uinstall any softwaredb215b834d47b47764f0469c4c2a9aa5

  14. Can some help me to solve my problem my neighbor put up a post next to
    my and started feeding birds with about 8 bags of bird feeds they sit on my apple and plum tree and make such a mess last year I cut both trees half
    way down but I am going to have to cut them down completely I planted both
    about 12 yrs ago any suggestion please

  15. The birds were relentless. All types; grackles, sparrows, mocking birds, and a few others. Somewhere I read about the fake snake trick so I invested $10 at WM for 10 and they never touched the tomatoes again. I moved them around at first but later tested not moving them and will they come back. Never did.

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