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Blueberry defense

July 6, 2011

Earlier I posted briefly (here) about the bird netting dome I had constructed over my 6 blueberry bushes using electrical conduit as a frame. This was back in the 3rd week of June just as the berries were beginning to ripen.

So how has it worked?

Very well thank you, at least after I reinforced a section of the netting with a second layer.

The mockingbirds were persistent and could find their way in through any modest tear in the netting that was reasonably close to one of the blueberry bushes. It seems most birds do have good vision but we generally forget that in cases like this they are probing the defenses from 6-10″ away. So yes, they can see 3 or 4″ gaps that escape the human eye, especially when the human is standing back and admiring the seemingly foolproof solution to blueberry thievery that he has just constructed.

The funny thing is the mockingbirds would find their way in and eat a berry or two (per the Timmy the bored well driller across the garden who passed the day watching birds and bugs do their things) then their skittish nature would kick in and they would want to return to a perch to do their noisy mockingbird thing, the bird world equivalent of “yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah….” a few dozen times.

The only problem was they couldn’t remember how they got in after they panicked so they would quit eating and freak out looking for an escape. Timmy the well man let them out a couple of times that first day and so did I, each time discovering the additional tear they had already found and used. Eventually I quit mending the nets and bought some new bird netting and solved the issue with a second layer over the “holy” section. Lesson learned, don’t cheap out and use last year’s netting, it has holes in it.

Two catbirds moved in about 10 days ago and have been working the yard. They are cousins to the mockingbird and very clever in their own right, but they gave up pretty quickly after probing some. The mockingbirds still give it a shot now and then as the berries are quite blue at this point and they can’t resist. I conceded a berry to one last night; he could almost reach it from the outside and eventually figured out that standing on the net (vs the conduit frame) would weigh the net down slightly and move him close enough to reach the prize. I even saw a hummingbird hit the net yesterday evening; he bounced off the netting a couple of times before moving away toward the red blooming crepe myrtle in my neighbor’s yard.

Worth it?

Sure. These were 3 gallon plants when I put them in the ground (fall of 2009) and I plucked off the blooms last spring so that the plants could funnel all their energy into growth. This year, a respectable crop is in the process of ripening and harvest.

Patience is required, but you must defend the blueberries.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dailey permalink
    July 6, 2011 9:26 pm

    Yum!! They look delish

  2. July 6, 2011 9:43 pm

    better come see us soon if you want any. The netting doesn’t keep your mother out…..

  3. Clay permalink
    July 10, 2011 4:30 pm

    Those are bluetiful! Seems to me that you need to get up to the cabin and defend those blueberries too! They are probably being attacked right now.

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