Oak seed (Acorns)-Bird Problems

McMinnville, TN(Zone 6b)

I plant a number of oak seed each spring and am having tremendous bird problems. They will eat almost every seed that I plant. I have tried decoys of owls and hawks, fake snakes, and even go to the trouble of netting the beds. The birds WILL find a way under the net no matter how tight you get the netting. I even bought a noise making electronic deal that ran 24/7 and the birds just get use to it. My biggest problem seems to be with Blue Jays and Red Birds. I have fought this problem for the last several years and always loose a lot of seeds (very expensive problem). Does anyone know of a solution or have a suggestion that I might try? I sometimes feel I am fighting a losing battle.

Galesburg, IL

Rather than using bird netting over your beds, I would use chicken wire (the good stuff made from wire, not the cheap plastic type). Chicken wire can be woven together to form a continuous sheet of wire. I would then form it in an arch over the beds and bury then ends several inches deep. If you think the birds might get through the holes in chicken wire, you might get some "hardware cloth" with smaller holes than that in the chicken wire (1/4 or 1/2 inch holes). All this is assuming of course your beds are small enough to economically cover the beds with the wire.

McMinnville, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks, trc65, for the information. I haven't thought of chicken wire, but as you hinted to,
my beds are much too large for this expense. They are around 5' wide by 96' long and are raised off the ground, AND there are 6 or 7 of them. I could never afford the chicken wire and also, would have no way to attach to the ground. I have often wondered if there is something that I could coat the seed with that would make the birds leave them alone and that would not hurt the germination. I don't know. Thanks again.

Galesburg, IL

You might try some Google searches for bird repellent seed treatments. There have been lots of developments in this area in recent years. Most of the current chemicals being used are safe, but the newest ones probably don't have treatment labels for oak and many of them are probably not labeled in TN as these treatments are used primarily in field corn in the upper Midwest. Another problem you will probably come up against is being able to purchase a small enough amount of any of these chemicals. While your beds are large, many of these chemicals will be packaged in sizes for farmers treating hundreds if not thousands of acres.

Other areas to look for information are Nursery associations and don't forget to contact your local Extension Service - they are a great source of information and may be able to find something that will work for your situation.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You might look into row covers, that might be cheaper and easier than chicken wire. http://www.gardeners.com/Row-Covers/5111,default,pg.html

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