You finally got your lawn or pasture seeded with beautiful, lush grass seed. But then the birds arrive, feasting on the freshly sown seeds and undoing all your hard work! Birds love grass seed, so how do you deter them from eating it? Here are some effective tips to keep birds away and protect your grass seed investment.
Understand Bird Behavior
To deter birds, you need to understand what attracts them to grass seed in the first place.
Birds are highly food-motivated. Newly sown grass seed is an easy meal.
Their excellent eyesight lets them scan for seeds from the air.
Sparse, newly seeded areas provide easy access to seeds.
Birds can digest hard grass seeds that many animals can’t eat.
Birds forage in flocks, quickly decimating seed. More birds attract more birds.
Large birds like crows and grackles can scratch up and eat buried seeds.
Knowing these bird behaviors provides insights on how to make your seed less enticing.
Remove Food Sources
Eliminate other food sources that bring birds flocking to your lawn:
- Take down outdoor bird feeders temporarily.
- Clear away any spilled seed under feeders.
- Remove any weeds/flowers going to seed that birds are eating.
- Discard fruit or berries that may be attracting birds.
- Use bird netting over fruit trees and bushes.
By taking away their existing food, birds have less reason to stop and check out your tempting grass seed buffet!
Use Physical Deterrents
Physical devices can block birds or scare them away:
Bird Netting : Cover seeded areas with bird netting. Use stakes to keep it anchored tightly to the ground. The small mesh keeps birds from landing and accessing seeds.
Scarecrow Devices : Place decoys like fake owls, snakes, or flashing lights to frighten birds. Move periodically so they don’t adjust. Combine with recorded distress calls.
Flash Tape : Hang reflective flash tape or old CDs above seeded areas. The flashing light and movement deters birds.
Wire Grids : Crisscross wire or fishing line over seeded spots. Spacing every 3-4 inches prevents birds from landing.
Employ Chemical Repellents
There are several chemical options to make grass seed less palatable:
- Hot Pepper Products : Apply hot pepper extract based repellents on seed. Capsaicin makes birds avoid spicy seeds. Reapply after rain.
- Garlic Oil : Pure garlic oil deter birds with its strong odor and taste. Mix with water and spray over grass seed.
- Bittering Agents : Coatings like methyl anthranilate give seeds a bitter, unpleasant flavor. Birds won’t eat treated seed.
- Herbal Products : Herbal repellents made with cloves, thyme, mint, etc. can discourage seed eating. Always follow product labels and reapply as directed until grass is established.
Use Tactile Deterrents
Small discomforts can convince birds to dine elsewhere:
- Irregular Seedbed : Rake the soil before seeding grass. Pointy, uneven soil deters ground-feeding birds.
- Porcupine Wire : Roll out mats of prickly porcupine wire. Birds dislike landing on the uncomfortable surface.
- Employ Scare Tactics : It’s possible to actively and aggressively scare away the birds in your fields:
- Motion-activated Sprinklers : Sprinklers turn on via sensor when birds are present. They startle birds and deter landing.
- Noise & Sounds : Use clappers, bangers, or other loud sounds to frighten birds. Vary the location and timing to maximize effectiveness.
- Scarecrow & Predator Models : Position fake predators like hawks and snakes in seeded areas. The looming models caution birds.
- Dogs & Cats : Let your pets patrol the yard to scare birds and chase them away from seed. Supervise to prevent digging. Frightening birds with sudden sounds, movement, or models convinces them to move on.
Apply Seed at Right Time
Choose the optimal time to avoid peak bird feeding:
- Avoid early spring when birds aggressively feed on scarce seeds.
- Seed in late fall when birds focus less on scavenging seeds.
- Seed shortly before a new lawn is laid as barrier to birds.
- Early morning seeding gives less exposure to daytime bird feeding.
- While you can’t avoid birds entirely, smart timing can reduce their impact.
Be Vigilant & Persistent
Diligent monitoring and variety of tactics are key to success:
- Patrol seeded areas and actively scare away birds.
- Reapply deterrents like repellents after rain or irrigation.
- Vary physical deterrents by moving around.
- Use multiple techniques like scare devices, repellents, exclusion, and active hazing.
- Stick with it! Keep birds away until grass is established and less vulnerable.
With observation and persistence, you can successfully protect grass seed from ravenous birds. Don’t be discouraged by temporary setbacks.
Birds can quickly decimate a lawn or field when grass seeds are sown. Using an integrated approach with physical exclusion, chemical repellents, scare tactics, and impeccable timing, you can train birds to look elsewhere for their meals. Stop birds from treating your seeded ground like an all-you-can-eat buffet with flexible, diligent techniques tailored to your situation. With commitment and perseverance, you can nurture your grass seed to maturity.