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I have a rectangular pot on the deck full of ornamental peppers ('Poinsettia' and Chile Pequin "bird peppers"). As is typical of ornamental peppers, they're about a foot high and covered with small fruit. At the moment most are green and few seemed to be ripening to the bright red that they are supposed to be. Yesterday I saw the culprit in action: a mockingbird.

I have seen them go after pepper flowers in the past - not usually a concern at this time of year because it is too hot for them to form fruit. However, this time I have fruit (I think the ornamentals like the heat). And the mockingbirds are eating the actual fruit - probably because they are so small. Even a small pepperoncini is going to be pretty big for a mockingbird, but a chiltepin is just the right size to eat whole.

This year we do have a lot of mockingbird chicks around. What can I do to keep them away from the pot? A net would not look good. Wires would merely add more perches (mockingbirds are acrobatic and maneuverable birds).

Although I often take a more pragmatic approach to killing pests, a lethal solution is not appropriate in this situation. Nor is the use of mist nets to catch and relocate them.

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Some kind of physical barrier would probably be the most effective, though as you quite rightly point out, they don't (normally) look very good.

A few other possible suggestions:

  • Bird Scare Flash Tape - Looks a little funky, but is said to work very! well & I have used similar stuff in the past with good effect.
  • A fake owl (or other bird of prey) - Tends to look a little cheesy if you ask me.
  • A fake rubber snake - Tends to look a little cheesy if you ask me.
  • If you're ok! with feeding birds in your garden, you could put out (away from your Pepper plants) some appropriate food for the Mockingbirds and encourage them to eat that instead of your Pepper plants.
  • Thanks. The flash tape sounds the best bet - perhaps the remains of old small Christmas decorations. I don't think the owl or snake would do it. Feeding birds would not be a problem and we've done it in the past. We don't do it at the moment because squirrels are a bigger problem and we don't currently have a place for a squirrel-proof feeder (basically a large tree with long, high lateral branches is required). Also MrsWinwaed (ecology professor) says mockingbirds don't go to feeders (and I don't ever recall seeing one on any of our feeders). – winwaed Jul 6 '11 at 0:36
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    @winwaed, no worries. I've just added a few comments in italics to my answer. – Mike Perry Jul 6 '11 at 1:33

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