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We have a fairly large and productive fig tree, but we never get to enjoy the fruit because the birds always get to it first.

What can we do to take advantage of this tree before my wife makes me cut it down for more yard space?

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take a look here:… -- for "Bird Scare Flash Tape" as a possibility. – Mike Perry Jul 7 '11 at 17:01
And depending on the type of bird, some of the other options might be applicable (eg. feeders) – winwaed Jul 7 '11 at 17:03

Shiny aluminum pie plates did the trick for me. The wind keeps them moving and the sunlight reflecting off them should keep the birds away. All you need to do is punch a hole in the plate and hang it from a branch.

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A commercial orchard (apples, peaches, plums) near us uses noisemakers. I haven't seen what specific product they use, but I suspect it is something along the lines of the "Screech Owl" or "Critter Gitter" seen on this site.

They also use hanging balls and other similar devices.

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I just covered my tomatoes with bird netting. It doesn't look pretty, but it protects the plants. Depending on how big the fig tree is, this could be a working solution.

If you need to make a larger net, you could try joining two nets together using zip ties and overlapping a foot or so.

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