How To Keep Birds Away From Tomatoes?

You can spend hours in the garden waiting for your tomatoes to ripen. Then, one afternoon you notice a flock of birds has wiped out your crop and left you with nothing to harvest. Learning how to keep birds away from tomatoes will ensure the work you out in actually turns into a healthy harvest of tomatoes!

Bird Issues In The Garden

bird issues in the garden

Birds are a welcome feature in the homestead unless of course, you have an unprotected garden. Without the proper protections in places, you can lose your entire crop of tomatoes to a flock of wild birds.

They’ll peck at bugs and the tomatoes themselves, ruining the hard work you’ve put in over the growing season. So, what can you put around tomato plants to keep animals away?

There are a few measures that you can take on the homestead to reduce the risk of birds eating your tomatoes.

Some are low tech and cheap while others are in-depth permanent options that may be necessary if the birds in your area are relentless.

Options To Keep Birds Away From Tomatoes

When learning how to keep birds from eating seedlings and mature tomato plants with ripened fruit, you’ll read about all kinds of tips and tricks that may or may not work.

Here is a list of the 5 most common and effective ways to keep the birds out of your garden so you get to harvest the tomatoes for yourself!

1. Reflective Tape

The most basic way to try and keep birds away from tomatoes is using reflective tape or ribbon on the plants. The sun hits the reflective material as it blows in a breeze and scares away the birds.

However, this tends to be less effective over time, especially with more intelligent species of birds. It may work for those who only have bird pressure for a couple of weeks at the peak of harvesting.

What about wind chimes? Do wind chimes keep birds away? Just like a reflective surface, unrecognizable sounds can scare birds away as well. If they are reflective, you get a double dose of scaring.

But, just like the reflective ribbon, it’ll lose effectiveness when the birds get used to the noise and reflections.

2. Create A Sacrificial Bird Garden

Birds that just won’t stay out of the garden may make you decide to plant out a bird garden with sacrificial crops that they are meant to eat.

If you want to keep birds around for the blissful bird songs, you can try to relocate them to a garden spot like this.

Encouraging more bird activity with birdbaths and birdhouses in this area will help draw them from the garden. Plant crop varieties that the birds seem to enjoy and plant other bird-friendly plants like sunflowers.

This bird garden is a good distraction from your main garden and might be enough to keep the birds away from your tomatoes. Or, if it still doesn’t do the trick, try some of the other methods mentioned.

3. Build Cages

Bird proof tomato cages are a great option for those homesteaders growing dwarf and determinate varieties of tomatoes. Since indeterminate varieties climb tall trellises, surrounding them with cages isn’t as practical.

Cages can be built out of welded wire or something more affordable like chicken wire. Building cages that fit over a planter box or the entire garden bed if they are in-ground.

Keeping the structure lightweight will make it easier to remove them when it’s time to harvest. Just ensure they are so light that birds can tip them over.

4. Use Bird Netting

Using netting to protect tomatoes from birds may be the most popular method of keeping birds away from the harvest. Bird netting for tomato plants is cheap and easy to drape over the plants.

Unlike cages, they don’t take much planning or design. Simply drape it over your tomato plants when the tomatoes start turning colors and the birds can’t get to them without getting tangled in the netting.

What do you cover tomato plants with? Premade bird netting is typically a plastic-based mesh or nylon.

Birds can’t see it well when drained over the plants but when they come to land near it, they will get caught, scared, and fly away without bothering the tomatoes.

5. Build A High Tunnel

What is the best bird deterrent? A high tunnel protects your crops from wild animals and environmental factors like rain and wind. Tomatoes do great in high tunnels but they are the most expensive option for crop protection.

If you are serious about your garden and have permanent beds, it may be worth the investment for the protection and manipulation of the climate within the tunnel itself.

This wouldn’t be my first choice if you are only trying to stop birds from eating tomatoes. But, as your homestead grows more productive and your systems develop to increase yield, you may find that a high tunnel is a great investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

how to keep birds away from tomatoes Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to learn how to recognize and understand the patterns of bird damage to your tomatoes and other fruits and veggies?

A: When you are familiar with the times and ways in which birds typically damage your crops, you will be better able to choose the right method of prevention at the right time. There are lots of different kinds of birds, and they have varying needs throughout the growing season. Taking these variables into account will help you formulate an effective plan of action.

Why is bird damage more severe in some areas than in others?

A: Your location, and the size of your garden, will affect the amount of damage birds may cause. For example, in an urban or suburban setting, you may have a lot of hungry birds, such as starlings, that travel in large flocks. If you have a small veggie garden, they may arrive en masse and lay waste to your tomato patch. On the other hand, if you live in a very isolated area where there are not a lot of tasty fruits and veggies available, birds and other hungry critters may eat up your entire crop. If you have a very big tomato crop, the same size flocks of birds may arrive and enjoy the fruits of your labors without causing a significant amount of damage overall.

How does the time of fruit maturation impact bird damage?

A: The time of fruit maturation in tomatoes can impact bird damage in a few ways:

  • Ripeness Attracts Birds: Birds are more likely to be attracted to ripe and colorful fruits. As tomatoes reach maturity and develop their characteristic red or yellow color, they become more appealing to birds. At this stage, the fruit is also softer and more palatable, making it a target for feeding.
  • Competition for Resources: In areas with limited food resources, birds may be more prone to target maturing fruits when there’s increased competition for available food. As tomatoes ripen, they become a valuable food source, especially if other natural food options are scarce.
  • Timing with Bird Migration: Depending on the local bird migration patterns, the time of fruit maturation may coincide with periods when large flocks of birds pass through an area. During migration, birds may actively seek out food sources, including ripe tomatoes, contributing to increased damage.

How can you keep birds from damaging mature tomatoes?

A: To mitigate bird damage to tomato plants, consider the following measures:

  • Protective Netting: Use bird netting to cover tomato plants once the fruits start maturing. This physical barrier prevents birds from accessing the ripening tomatoes.
  • Scare Tactics: Employ scare tactics such as reflective objects, noise-makers, or visual deterrents to discourage birds from approaching the tomato plants.
  • Harvest Timing: Harvest tomatoes promptly as they ripen to minimize the time they spend attracting birds. Regular harvesting not only reduces the risk of bird damage but also encourages the plant to produce more fruit.

By understanding the relationship between fruit maturation and bird behavior, you can implement strategies to protect your tomato harvest from avian pests.

Can you kill birds if they are damaging your tomato plants or other fruits and veggies?

A: Most birds are protected by state and federal law, exceptions include pigeons, house sparrows, and European starlings. Blackbirds, cowbirds, crows, and grackles may be killed without a permit when observed causing damage. A permit is required if protected birds are to be harmed by damage control techniques. A Migratory Bird Depredation Permit can be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) through the permit application process.

What is the recommended approach for reducing bird damage, and why is early intervention important?

A : For best results, use a variety of techniques simultaneously and start your control program before birds become accustomed to feeding on the fruit. Early intervention is crucial as control becomes more difficult after feeding patterns are established. Keeping records of control methods tried can help modify the damage control program. In some cases, hiring a professional wildlife pest control operator may be necessary.

What can you do if birds start landing on your scarecrows and other visual scare devices?

A: You must change these devices out frequently and in a random manner. If birds get used to a visual scare device, it will cease to scare them. Likewise, if they realize that devices are being rotated in a discernible pattern. Vary the types of scare devices used, along with their colors and locations.

How can you make sure birds don’t get used to noise making scare devices?

A: Randomness and variety are also your friends when it comes to scaring birds away with noises. You should set up your devices in such a way that the sounds are presented irregularly. The sound source should be moved frequently.

Should you use chemical bird repellents on tomato plants?

A: Chemical repellents are not really recommended to keep birds away because they are not especially effective, and they can have a negative impact on unintended targets. Additionally, use of repellents can negatively impact the flavor of your tomatoes.

How does keeping a garden journal help with controlling bird damage in your garden?

A: When you keep a garden journal, you have an ongoing record of the failures and successes of your garden venture. You’ll be able to look back and see, for example, when particular birds arrived in your garden in the past and how long they stayed. You can review your management techniques and tweak them as needed in order to perfect them. While you might think you’d surely remember from one year to the next, you’d be surprised just what pertinent details you’re likely to forget. Keeping a garden journal prevents the probability of reinventing the wheel season-after-season.

Go Protect Your Tomatoes!

Learning how to protect tomatoes from birds and other animals like squirrels will be more trial and error than science to find out what works in your garden.

Do birds eat tomatoes when protected with these options? Some of the options provided in this article are foolproof, while others may or may not work. It depends on how brave the birds are!

1 thought on “How To Keep Birds Away From Tomatoes?”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Farm & Animals

6043 S Drexel Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Amazon Disclaimer

Farm & Animals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


Farm & Animals do not intend to provide veterinary advice. We try to help farmers better understand their animals; however, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our PRIVACY POLICY.