Most of the time, birds are nice to have near your Heirloom / Open Pollinated Garden. They eat many kinds of insect pests, but they can be a problem too. Crows, blackbirds, jays, and even mockingbirds are infamous for digging up corn seeds, pea seeds and small plants. Birds are quick to grow accustomed to the devices gardeners use to try to scare them away, so success at protecting your Heirloom / Open Pollinated Garden from bird damage requires a all-round approach. For Heirloom / Open Pollinated Corn and Peas, you can use 12-inch-wide wire mesh over the rows. Shape it like a tent, until the plants get too big for the birds to pull. Reflective foil tape moves in the wind, so it makes a good deterrent for Heirloom / Open Pollinated Tomatoes, berry bushes, and other Garden Plants that need protection for several weeks.
Bird Deterrent Basics
Use Motion: Whirligigs, wind socks, those eyeball looking things dangling on strings, and other devices that wiggle and move will help keep birds wondering if the object is alive and if they should be avoided. Relocate these devices regularly around your garden so that birds will have a hard time figuring out if they are actually real or not.
Use color: All these objects in your Heirloom / Open Pollinated Vegetable Garden should be brightly colored to take advantage of birds color vision. Some Vegetable Gardeners use colorful stuffed animals to populate their Vegetable Gardens with curious, colorful “predators”. Try looking at thrift shops or garage sales for these Vegetable Gardening items, there cheaper that way.
Use sound: Things that make noise help to keep the birds away. Remember your neighbors though, or they may not like Heirloom / Open Pollinated Gardeners much after a while. Try wind chimes or similar unobtrusive and unpredictable sound sources. One old- fashioned method that works well in windy areas is to bury empty soda bottles around the Vegetable Garden with their open mouths 2 inches above the soil line. As wind blows over the bottles, it creates an eerie song that spooks birds.
Use danger: Scarecrows and other things that look like threats will make birds think twice about dining in your garden. Rubber snakes, plastic owls, etc. Be sure to change the location of your scare devices often enough to convince birds they are real, otherwise they will get use to them and come right back to your garden.
Use netting: Birds that are too smart or persistent for other methods can be kept from raiding the Heirloom / Open Pollinated Vegetable Garden with plastic bird netting. Attach the netting to posts to create a few inches of space between the netting and the plants or some birds will reach through netting when it is draped over the plants. Use clothespins to gather the edges of the netting together, and to secure it to the strings tied between the posts.
Birds can be destructive at harvest time. Robins, blue jays, and other birds love to gorge themselves on all kinds of berries and grapes just as you’re getting ready to pick them. Birds love sweet corn and sunflower seeds, too. People often tear open an ear of sweet corn to see if it’s ready. Don’t do this; it’s just gives birds a helping hand. Netting is the top deterrent here. Put mesh bags over the sunflower heads when you see the first bird trying to peck some Heirloom / Open Pollinated Vegetable Garden Seed.