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The Best Way To Protect Your Tomato Plants From Birds

Birds eat tomatoes, Stop birds from eating your tomatoes with these effective methods. Learn how to protect your harvest and enjoy your homegrown tomatoes.

Author:Velma Battle
Reviewer:Michael Rachal
Oct 10, 2023
1.9K Shares
192K Views
Birds can eat tomatoes, both ripe and unripe. Tomatoes are a delicious and popular vegetable, but they can be a tempting target for birds. Birds can eat both ripe and unripe tomatoes, and they can quickly decimate a harvest. If you are growing tomatoes in your garden, it is important to take steps to protect them from birds.
Tomatoes, with their vibrant hues and succulent flavor, are a gardener's pride and a culinary delight. However, the allure of these ruby treasures is not limited to humans alone. Birds, both feathered visitors and local residents, have a penchant for plucking these luscious fruits, leaving gardeners frustrated and their tomato plants plundered. Whether you're a devoted bird lover seeking to strike a balance between avian visitors and a flourishing tomato harvest, or simply someone yearning for a secure haven for your prized plants, this guide is tailored just for you.
In the following sections, we'll delve into the nuances of the avian threat to your tomato bounty and explore a range of effective strategies. From tried-and-true physical barriers to innovative visual and audio deterrents, we'll uncover the best practices to safeguard your tomato plants. Join us on this journey to discover the optimal ways to coexist with our feathered friends while ensuring a bountiful harvest of tomatoes, both ripe and unripe. Let's embark on a journey towards a thriving, bird-protected tomato garden.

Why Birds Eat Tomatoes

There are a few reasons why birds eat tomatoes. First, tomatoes are a good source of food for birds. They are high in sugar and water, and they also contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Second, tomatoes are often easy for birds to reach. They grow on low-hanging plants, and they are often soft and easy to peck at. Third, tomatoes are often available in abundance, especially during the summer months.

Different Types Of Birds That Eat Tomatoes

Various bird species have been observed to partake in the consumption of tomatoes. Among these, common culprits include sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, and pigeons. These birds are known to be omnivores, which means they have a varied diet that includes both plants and small insects. When tomatoes are readily available, they become an attractive food source for these birds. Depending on the region and local bird population, different species may exhibit a preference for tomatoes.
A wide variety of birds eat tomatoes, including,
  • Robins
  • Blue jays
  • Cardinals
  • Finches
  • Mockingbirds
  • Thrushes
  • Woodpeckers
  • Starlings
  • Orioles
  • Sparrows
  • Blackbirds

The Damage That Birds Can Do To Tomato Plants

Birds can damage tomato plants in a few ways. First, they can eat the leaves, stems, and fruit of the plant. This can reduce the plant's ability to produce food and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases. Second, birds can drop their droppings on the plants, which can spread diseases and attract pests. Third, birds can build nests in tomato plants, which can damage the plants and make them less productive.
Here are some specific examples of the damage that birds can do to tomato plants,
  • Birds can peck holes in tomatoes, making them inedible.
  • Birds can eat the entire fruit of a tomato, leaving behind only the core.
  • Birds can damage the leaves and stems of tomato plants, which can reduce the plant's ability to produce food and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases.
  • Birds can drop their droppings on tomato plants, which can spread diseases and attract pests.
  • Birds can build nests in tomato plants, which can damage the plants and make them less productive.
If you have a problem with birds eating your tomatoes, there are a number of things you can do to protect your plants. You can use physical barriers, such as bird netting or chicken wire cages. You can also use natural deterrents, such as shiny objects, reflective tape, or predator decoys. In addition, you can plant decoy tomato plants, grow tomatoes in raised beds, prune tomato plants to make them less accessible to birds, and harvest tomatoes early.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are one of the most effective ways to protect tomato plants from birds. They can be used to keep birds out of the garden altogether, or to prevent them from accessing specific plants.

Bird Netting

Bird netting is a lightweight mesh that can be draped over tomato plants. It is effective at keeping birds out, but it can also block sunlight and air circulation. Bird netting is available in a variety of sizes and mesh sizes, so you can choose the right one for your needs.

Chicken Wire Cages

Chicken wire cages are a more sturdy option than bird netting. They can be built around tomato plants to create a barrier that is difficult for birds to penetrate. Chicken wire cages are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can choose the right one for your garden.

Row Covers

An oldman covers tomatoes plants row with white net in tomatoes garden
An oldman covers tomatoes plants row with white net in tomatoes garden
Row covers are fabric sheets that are placed over rows of plants. They can help to protect plants from birds, pests, and weather. Row covers are available in a variety of materials, including spunbond fabric, woven fabric, and plastic.

Floating Row Covers

Floating row covers are similar to row covers, but they float above the plants on supports. This allows them to be used on taller plants, such as tomatoes. Floating row covers are available in a variety of materials, including spunbond fabric, woven fabric, and plastic.
When choosing a physical barrier for your tomato plants, it is important to consider the following factors,
  • The size and shape of your garden
  • The types of birds that are present in your area
  • The climate in your area
  • The cost of the barrier
Once you have chosen a physical barrier, it is important to install it properly. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and to secure the barrier firmly.
Here are some additional tips for using physical barriers to protect tomato plants from birds,
  • Inspect the barrier regularly for holes and tears.
  • Repair any damage to the barrier immediately.
  • Make sure that the barrier is tall enough to keep birds out.
  • If you are using bird netting, be sure to leave enough space between the netting and the plants so that the plants can breathe and receive sunlight.
  • If you are using chicken wire cages, be sure to leave enough space between the cages and the plants so that you can easily access the plants for watering, weeding, and harvesting.
  • If you are using row covers or floating row covers, be sure to secure the covers tightly so that birds cannot get underneath them.
Physical barriers can be an effective way to protect tomato plants from birds. By choosing the right barrier and installing it properly, you can keep your tomato plants safe and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

Natural Deterrents

Natural deterrents are a humane and effective way to keep birds away from tomato plants. They work by scaring or confusing birds, making them less likely to approach the plants.

Shiny Objects

Birds are easily spooked by shiny objects, so hanging shiny objects around tomato plants can be an effective way to deter them. Some common shiny objects that can be used as deterrents include,
  • Aluminum pie pans
  • CDs
  • Mirrors
  • Mylar balloons
  • Tin foil
When using shiny objects as deterrents, it is important to hang them in a way that allows them to move in the wind. This will create a flashing effect that will startle and confuse birds.

Reflective Tape

Reflective tape can also be used to deter birds from tomato plants. It works by creating the illusion of movement, which birds find unsettling. Reflective tape can be hung around tomato plants or tied to stakes and placed throughout the garden.

Predator Decoys

Predator decoys, such as owls or hawks, can also be used to deter birds from tomato plants. Birds are naturally afraid of predators, so seeing a predator decoy in the garden will make them less likely to approach. Predator decoys can be placed on stakes or on the ground in areas where birds are a problem.

Sound Deterrents

Sound deterrents, such as wind chimes or noisemakers, can also be used to deter birds from tomato plants. Birds are easily startled by loud noises, so hearing a sound deterrent will make them less likely to approach the plants. Sound deterrents can be placed throughout the garden or near specific plants that are being targeted by birds.

Bird Feeders Placed Away From Tomato Plants

Placing bird feeders away from tomato plants can also help to deter birds from the plants. Birds are attracted to food, so placing bird feeders in a different area of the garden will give them a less tempting alternative to eating your tomatoes.
Here are some additional tips for using natural deterrents to protect tomato plants from birds,
  • Use a variety of deterrents to keep birds guessing.
  • Move the deterrents around regularly to prevent birds from getting used to them.
  • Be patient. It may take some time for the deterrents to start working.
Natural deterrents can be an effective way to keep birds away from tomato plants. By using a variety of deterrents and moving them around regularly, you can create a hostile environment for birds and protect your plants.

Other Methods

Planting Decoy Tomato Plants

Planting decoy tomato plants can help to distract birds from your real tomato plants. Decoy tomato plants can be purchased at most garden centers, or you can make your own by using smaller tomato plants or other plants that have a similar appearance to tomato plants.
When planting decoy tomato plants, it is important to place them in a different area of the garden than your real tomato plants. This will make it more difficult for birds to distinguish between the real plants and the decoys.

Growing Tomatoes In Raised Beds

Growing tomatoes plants in raised beds
Growing tomatoes plants in raised beds
Growing tomatoes in raised beds can make them more difficult for birds to reach. This is because raised beds are typically higher than the ground, which makes it more difficult for birds to land on them.
To grow tomatoes in raised beds, simply build a raised bed frame and fill it with soil. Then, plant your tomato plants in the raised bed. Be sure to water your plants regularly and to fertilize them according to the instructions on the fertilizer label.

Pruning Tomato Plants To Make Them Less Accessible To Birds

Pruning tomato plants to make them less accessible to birds can also be an effective deterrent. When pruning tomato plants, remove any lower branches that are within reach of birds. This will make it more difficult for birds to reach the fruit of the plant.
To prune a tomato plant, simply use a sharp pair of shears to cut off any lower branches that are within reach of birds. Be sure to make clean cuts and to avoid damaging the plant.

Harvesting Tomatoes Early

Harvesting tomatoes early can also help to reduce the amount of time that they are available to birds. If you harvest your tomatoes when they are still slightly green, they will not be as attractive to birds.
To harvest tomatoes early, simply pick the tomatoes when they are about 3/4 ripe. Tomatoes will continue to ripen after they have been picked, so you can place them in a sunny spot to finish ripening.
By using other methods, such as planting decoy tomato plants, growing tomatoes in raised beds, pruning tomato plants to make them less accessible to birds, and harvesting tomatoes early, you can further protect your tomato plants from birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Eating My Tomatoes?

Many home gardeners love eating garden-fresh tomatoes. Unfortunately, many pests also love to share in the bounty of vine-ripened tomatoes. Known nibblers on home-grown tomatoes include birds, rabbits, squirrels (both ground and tree), rats, hornworms, and even slugs and snails.

What Eats A Tomato?

Worms and other insects are often a problem, but wildlife - squirrels, possums, raccoons, deer, birds, rats - can take your entire crop. I have seen gardeners use bird netting or fake predators (owls, snakes) or even some type of animal repellent, but it seems the wildlife usually win the battle.

What Animal Eats Half A Tomato?

If you're discovering half-eaten tomatoes or ones with bite marks, you're likely dealing with squirrels or chipmunks. These critters are notorious for clambering into plants and taking a small bite out of fruits. Usually they're after the water in the tomatoes.

Conclusion

Birds can be a nuisance for gardeners, especially when it comes to tomatoes. Birds are attracted to the sweet, juicy fruit of tomatoes, and they can quickly decimate a crop. However, there are a number of things that gardeners can do to protect their tomato plants from birds.
Physical barriers, such as bird netting and chicken wire cages, are an effective way to keep birds out of the garden. Natural deterrents, such as shiny objects, reflective tape, predator decoys, and sound deterrents, can also be used to scare birds away from tomato plants. Other methods, such as planting decoy tomato plants, growing tomatoes in raised beds, pruning tomato plants to make them less accessible to birds, and harvesting tomatoes early, can also be used to protect tomato plants from birds.
By using a combination of physical barriers, natural deterrents, and other methods, gardeners can protect their tomato plants from birds and enjoy a bountiful harvest.
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Velma Battle

Velma Battle

Author
Travelling Expert
Michael Rachal

Michael Rachal

Reviewer
Travelling Expert
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