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QUESTION: Help! Birds are eating my tomatoes

comments (23) June 28th, 2011

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Gina123 Gina123, member
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Photo by edinthekitchen under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

Photo by edinthekitchen under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

I have several tomato plants and as soon as one of the tomatoes get red and ripe almost ready to pick something comes along and takes bites out of it. I am pretty sure it is birds because it happens all day long. I will have a great looking tomato almost ready to pick in the morning then go out in the afternoon and it will have bite marks on it. How can I stop them? What kind of birds eat tomatoes?

posted in: tomatoes, pests

Comments (23)

M1A2 writes: We have yellow birds that are eating our tomatoes, they only go after the ripe ones.
Posted: 9:40 am on July 3rd
M1A2 writes: We have yellow birds that are eating our tomatoes, they only go after the ripe ones.
Posted: 9:40 am on July 3rd
sinonetting writes: In this case, bird netting should be applied to keep birds away. It is a cheap and effective way. sinonetting products good bird nets welcome to contact us.
Posted: 12:24 am on June 11th
deejay7 writes: I bet it is chipmunks that are eating your tomatoes. We had the problem last year and my husband trapped several in a have a heart trap and relocated them elsewhere. Problem was solved.
Posted: 7:18 pm on June 8th
woxall writes: Mockingbirds!! They love tomatoes. I even covered my tomatoes with small netting all the way to the ground and put rocks on the edges around the bottom. They found one small opening and squeezed under, hit each ripe tomato once or twice and I saw him (her) come back out and fly away. I love to watch the little thieves, so I started leaving one or two tomatoes uncovered just for the birds. Since doing that I have had very few damaged tomatoes on my plants. We both get our tomatoes!
dee dee, Gray Tn.
Posted: 11:55 am on August 14th
Nasturtium writes: Like CharleyF42, I found that always having fresh water available in my garden stopped the tomato raids. Although I never witnessed the damage being done, I always suspected it was squirrels and chipmunks. I now have a couple of birdbaths I replenish daily. One on the ground, and one about 30 inches off the ground. Problem solved.
Posted: 11:31 am on August 12th
CharleyF42 writes: For several summers, we have had plenty of tomatoes and also plenty of mockingbirds and squirrels to take damaging bites of ripening tomatoes.
Last summer, we coincidentally decided to buy a 10x3x2 galvanized horse trough and use it for a goldfish pond to pretty up the backyard with a little fountain, and water lilies and filters.
Amazingly, all the tomato sampling stopped. We see the birds, squirrels, and many bees, yellow jackets and mud daubers drinking from the pond. We also have a healthy school of mosquito fish (Gambusia) in the pond, taking care of the mosquito population. This is the second summer of the pond and the same results. Maybe the critters were simply thirsty. And my wife is wondering what to do with all the tomatoes.
Posted: 11:10 am on August 12th
CuriousChris writes: When I lived in Korea, the farmers found that the magpies loved fruit, so each fruit season there was a mad flurry of fruit wrapping to prevent damage. They used newspapers and wrapped the apple/pears that the birds were targeting.
I guess the paper got wet but it seemed to stay on enough to protect the crop. It would avoid condensation and rotting that plastic might encourage. I always thought I would try this if I ever had any birds in the garden. As it turns out only the strawberries seem to be victims of bird attack so I'm not wrapping individual strawberries! I'll eventually make a mesh structure.

Posted: 8:46 am on August 12th
ray1988 writes: red reflective tape all ove you need the wind to catch them to make it efective
Posted: 5:27 pm on August 22nd
ray1988 writes: sevin dust

Posted: 5:24 pm on August 22nd
jackie_lee writes: This is my first year growing tomatoes here in Hawaii. I'm growing them in containers and they are doing GREAT!! Fist size tomatoes (Beefsteak) but still green and hard as a rock. The birds started eating them. Yep, didn't even wait until they were close to being ripe. I tried the netting, colored balls and CD's hanging from fishing line. Nothing worked until I read on another page that they had tried putting sandwich size ziplock baggies over each tomato as soon as it was big enough to slip over the tomato. Viola! No more birds....I had first bought the quality Zip Lock brand baggies but they were too thick, stiff and invasive so I bought the flimsy cheap ones and they work great. I also cut off a small corner at the bottom to let the condensation escape. Now....what to do with all of this netting, CD's and Christmas balls!!
Posted: 4:41 pm on August 21st
micafe writes: My husband was struggling with the mocking birds eating our tomatoes even before they were totally ripe.
He built a cage using pvc pipe + fitting for the frame. Then he used Bird Net around it and fastened it with Tie Wraps.

The front can be opened so that he can pick the ripe tomatoes.

The birds stopped eating the tomatoes!!

I took some pictures of it, but apparently I can't load them here. What a shame.
Posted: 4:58 pm on May 16th
tomatonater writes: I found a safe and easy way to protect your tomatoes pick white paper towel Wet it around the ripening tomato. Then once it dries and it turns white again they can't see it. Use enough to make sure wind will not blow it off tomato or it will be visible to those pesky mocking birds.

Posted: 2:29 pm on March 12th
Posted: 11:08 am on July 21st
naturegirl_2 writes: I've heard of hanging red christmas bulbs on your tomato plants,they don't like the sparkle and it confuses the bird. I think I would try rubbing a little ripe tomato juice on a few of the bulbs as well.
Posted: 8:40 am on July 20th
Tomoko writes: Yourownvictorygarden: You cages are very impressive. I am actually even more impressed with your straw covered garden paths being so clean and weedless. How do you keep it weedless with vermuda grass growing around?

Posted: 10:06 am on July 15th
Veeta writes: I just pick them less ripe than I would like to--this works for tomatoes but not for the blackberries they are devouring!
Posted: 10:58 am on July 5th
yourownvictorygarden writes: Our lovely state bird, the mockingbird, is the arch nemesis for tomato-lovers in North Texas; and, by the looks of the bite marks, is probably what caused your damage. Here's the bad news... the ONLY thing that works (that I've seen) is a semi-permanent cover enclosing your tomato plants. You can see what I did here:

It was a lot of work and wasn't cheap, but the tomatoes are certainly worth it.
Posted: 5:19 pm on July 4th
Zone8A writes: I took fishing line and tied several unwanted CDs together and hang them around the garden. They catch the slightest breeze and spin around. The sun catches the reflective side an cast prisms of colored spots on the ground and plants (Imagine a daytime disco, if you will). I haven't had the first problem with birds, squirrels or other rodents.
Posted: 6:43 am on July 2nd
texasbranguslady writes: I went to the Dollar store and got several colorful whirl-a-gigs and that seems to help keep the mockingbird away. Tied them right to my cages for the tomatoes. My neighbor got three large ones - they are about $3 apiece and now nothing bothers our gardens except this Texas heat!
Posted: 3:20 pm on June 30th
Ruth writes: fairwxhog, the photo with this post was not taken by gina123. It's just a fairly generic photo of tomato damage. I've had birds peck at my tomatoes, too, especially in droughts. Usually I just cut out the damaged portion and used the rest.
Posted: 1:22 pm on June 30th
fairwxhog writes: That looks more like what a squirrel, or a terrapin will do to a tomato. Mockinbirds are the worst at destroying a good, ripe 'mater
Posted: 1:09 pm on June 30th
AmberM writes: We had the same problem, VERY frustrating!! Here's a link to what we did which has worked wonderfully : ) It's not actually a link, so you'll have to copy and paste into your browser but it has a picture of the "bird cage" that we made out of pvc. It was super easy and cheap. Hope this helps : )
Posted: 9:44 am on June 30th
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