Flipped Off By The Bird

It’s that time of year again, when even the mildest-mannered gardener turns into a homicidal lunatic.  I wasn’t mild-mannered in the first place, so I’m in full Rambo-mode.

Why, you ask?  (Or maybe you don’t; but tough noogies.  I’m going to tell you anyway.)  Yep, once again I’m locked in a life-or-death struggle with garden-raiding critters.

In March, Hubby took down last year’s bird netting so he could double the size of our strawberry patch.  We now have 22 raised beds, an area 60 feet long and 20 feet wide.  After much anticipation (and much weeding), the first few berries began to blush a couple of weeks ago.

The robins swooped in immediately.

“That’s okay,” I thought.  “It’s a giant patch.  There’ll be enough for all of us.”


Robins do not share well.  Nor are they considerate berry-pickers.  When I went out to pick ‘my share’, I discovered that long sharp beaks had plunged into almost every berry that had even a touch of red, and about half the harvest was gone entirely.

Then the robins got possessive.  No longer did they fly away when I approached.  I had to chase them off, waving my arms and shouting obscenities.  (The obscenities probably weren’t strictly necessary, but they made me feel better.)

Then it got to the point where they’d only move about ten feet despite my bellowing and arm-waving; and as soon as I hunkered down to pick the pathetic leftovers, they’d settle in a couple of rows behind me and chow down all over again.

The worst part was their derisive clucking and chirping.  I just knew those little feathered bastards were laughing at me.

So, up went the netting again.  As I secured the last gap, I shot a triumphant look at the robin perched outside the perimeter.  “This is your own fault,” I lectured.  “If you hadn’t been so greedy, you could have still been eating nice fresh berries.”

He let out a loud chirp, flicked his tail at me, and flocked off.  He didn’t have a middle finger to jab skyward, but I got the message loud and clear.  Now I know why they call it ‘flipping the bird’.

At least my berries are ripening unmolested now.  But… last night I spotted a rabbit checking out the veggie garden.


Do you ‘enjoy the relaxing hobby of gardening’?

The giant strawberry patch


This is how they’re supposed to look: No ugly beak-gouges, just plump beautiful berries. YUM!

44 thoughts on “Flipped Off By The Bird

  1. Pingback: Critters vs. Me | Author Diane Henders

  2. Love fresh food from the garden, vegetables and fruit, but lost patience to deal with the birds, rabbits, etc years ago. I applaud your tenacity. Our daughter and son-in-law who live here in LA have a beautiful raised bed vegetable garden, but it looks like a fortress with all of the netting and wire mesh. They have had such intense critter issues that this year our son-in-law electrified the fence……I’ll stick to flowers and bushes….less hassle….but I do like fresh food:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • An electrified fence… hmmmm… That could work here, but I’d probably just end up electrocuting myself. I’m just going to hope that the critters don’t get any more determined than they have been so far.

      I’m especially hoping that the bears don’t discover the berry patch. The whole time I’m out picking, my ears and eyes are swivelling in all directions in case some bruin decides to crash my party. Not even an electric fence will keep them out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness! So much work only to feed the birds top quality delicious fruit. Ha! I hope you are soon able to devour your harvest and keep your eyes on your treat and not on the garden. Thanks for a good chuckle!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I applaud your efforts and your fortitude, For me, I love the idea of gardening/urban farming, but the reality, not so much. The few times I’ve made the attempt I ended up with homicidal fantasies towards the critter population. We have so many wild blackberries and strawberries and mulberry trees and asparagus plants around here that there’s no reason for them to raid my meager patch. But they don’t seem to see it that way. Especially the birds. I loved one of the others who called them “beautiful, incontinent vandals”. So true. The mulberry tree is next door…my poor car. Might be that a stronger word than “vandals” comes out of my mouth from time to time, lol!
    Enjoy your strawberries and your beautiful garden. I’ll enjoy my sanity, which is already questionable at best. Have a great week!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! I spent 2 hours out there picking yesterday, and then another 40 minutes getting them cleaned up and into the freezer. Not exactly my idea of fun, but the mouthwatering promise of frozen berries in wintertime is enough to make me persevere.

      I hope you have a great week, too! 🙂


    • It’s delicious – we’re SO enjoying them! (And I’m socking away bags in the freezer to enjoy over the winter — YUM!) Speaking of saskatoons, Hubby is currently designing his ‘blueberry house’. The plants are loaded right now, but as soon as those hard little green berries start to turn blue, the birds will be back with a vengeance!


  5. My blood sweat and tears water and fertilise the garden. Frequently. Generously.
    It isn’t robins which cause issues though but sulphur crested cockatoos. Beautiful, incontinent vandals.
    Last year they decided the spring bulbs were fair game. Some bulbs they dug out of the grounds and shredded. Some they allowed to almost flower and then beheaded and shredded.
    I took to lurking outside with a pump action water pistol. My aim improved dramatically. Not one tulip flowered though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, no, your poor tulips! Those cockatoos are lucky you only used a water pistol. My desire for more destructive ordinance would have been pretty strong at that point.

      When I read your comment I was wondering what part of the world was under attack by wild cockatoos! 🙂 I see from your blog that you’ve arrived here all the way from Australia — welcome!


  6. Critters…what would we do without them? We’d probably have lower blood pressure, at the very least.

    I quit trying to grow a garden here. The leaf blight and mildew finally claimed my entire garden three or four summers ago and I gave up, planting grass seed to fill in the area. It was so bad that even the pepper plants got ruined. We live a mile from one of the Great Lakes, and our neighbor has a fish pond just a few feet from the fence, so we really had it bad here.

    But prior to that, I had to run rabbit-guard fencing around the entire thing, as those little maldito conejos would get in and start mowing down my buttercrunch lettuce. They would also get over to the flower beds and eat the petunias. Chasing them didn’t help. Neither did the bricks I threw at them; even the one I clipped on the haunch was back the next day.

    I tried potted plants near the house–the tomatoes would just start to lose their green color when the rats would get in and gnaw holes into them. *sigh* The “joys” of being near a big city.

    The absolute worst was the groundhog, when I lived across town. That little bastage mowed down EVERY plant in the garden to a nub. Broccoli, peppers, even the tomato plants. Gone. I trapped it, released it a mile away, and it was back three days later. Trapped it again and released it several miles away in the next county, where it slunk away into the cattails, never to be seen again.

    My neighbors (with the fish pond) have a hanging basket with strawberries. I’m thinking they haven’t even had a harvest yet–the few berries on it are sitting there to rot, probably picked full of holes from the numerous birds, including our pesky state bird…the ROBIN.

    The entire extent of my gardening is now container-based. Flowers front and rear are in large pots or hanging baskets. And the only “crops” are two tomato plants in hanging baskets. (I forgot to plant herbs again–maybe that will be next week’s project.) My poor rototiller feels neglected, but the upside is that I’ve installed an irrigation system that keeps all of these pots watered without any waste, and without any worry when I travel.

    For strawberries, we often head down to Eastern Market and get some from the local farmers. One of them hails from Amherstburg, Ontario–his were always a deep red and nicely sweet inside. They beat anything the local grocers carry!

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s nothing like ‘real’ strawberries — those grocery-store things are just poor plastic imitations!

      So far our critters have been manageable. No pocket gophers or groundhogs… yet. And we haven’t had to dig the rabbit fence into the ground to keep them out. It helps that the eagles cruise by periodically and thin out the population. There’s enough other vegetation around to keep the rabbits fed, so we’re hoping that if they never get a taste of the good stuff they won’t try too hard to get in. (I’m probably being unrealistically optimistic here, but so far, so good.) 🙂


      • I had a hawk sitting on the powerline along the back of the yard for an hour one day, several years ago. That was before we cleaned out the backyard, and I have a feeling the rats were nesting back there somewhere among the junk and the overgrowth. I’d pay that hawk to stay around and police the yard if I could.


    • Ain’t that the truth! Our cats on the farm in Manitoba used to eat grasshoppers and crickets, but they drew the line at caterpillars. We don’t have any outdoor cats here, but we’d like to get some just to keep the rodent population down. Soon…


    • Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one! We can stand out in the garden and harangue the critters together; and maybe passersby will think we’re just normal people talking to each other. (Little do they know…) 😉


  7. Those strawberries look scrumptious! In North America, they are less shiny, more red, and sweeter than in Belgium. When I grew up, we dipped them in confectionary sugar before eating them.

    Your patch is huge! I think our camper van fits in it fifteen times. 🙂 Enjoy the fruit and – hopefully – veggies this summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, we’re REALLY enjoying them! They’re so aromatic and sweet, I’m surprised the bears haven’t raided our patch yet. I hope they continue to stay away.

      That’s interesting about the differences in strawberries there and here — I wonder if you just had different varieties there? Or maybe the growing conditions were different? I bet a bit of confectionary sugar would make ours taste even better, but I’m afraid to start what could turn out to be an addictive habit! 🙂


  8. For years I’ve been too lazy to fight with the critters. So the deer strip our rhododendrons and crocuses, and we haven’t had a veggie garden. When plants succumb to my black thumb, as they do on a regular basis, I try to replace them with deer-resistant plants. That’s really impossible to do with vegetables or strawberries, though.

    But this year we’ve decided to grow a small garden on our deck. Just a tomato plant, a couple of cucumber plants and some lettuce. The deck is high enough so the deer can’t get at it, but I’m waiting to see what the squirrels and birds do 🙂

    And you’re right – the problem isn’t so much that the animals want to partake of your food production, it’s when they’re so darn inconsiderate and don’t finish what they start! lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • Somebody needs to educate those critters in proper etiquette! I think that undertaking might exceed the bounds of my patience, though. (And the somewhat-elastic bounds of my so-called sanity.) 😉

      Hopefully the squirrels and birds will leave your mini-garden alone. I’ve never seen them attack a tomato or a cucumber plant. Fingers crossed…


    • Squirrels used to eat my GREEN tomatoes. Would pick em off the plant, eat two bites and drop em on the deck. Little bastards. Hubby built me a chicken wire cage for the plants that stood about 4 feet tall with a door I could open so I could get in to pick tomatoes, finally outfoxed the little devils.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like a bad redo of “The Birds”! I don’t know what the heck kind of robins you folks are breeding up there in Canada, but here in Minnesota, we expect our robins to follow the Minnesota Nice rule and behave – and they do. None of that nonsense here. I’ve never seen such a thing. Now crows, that’s a horse of another color as they say. But nothing seems to bother my tomato plants, knock on wood. I’ve got them in a raised bed planter near the house, maybe that’s the key. Or maybe I’m just lucky.

      We have horrible soil here, it’s all nasty clay so I’m guessing no self-respecting groundhog can tunnel through it. He’d be coming up to sneeze that crap out of his nose every few seconds. Every time we plant ANYTHING in the ground, we add bag after bag of soil ammendments. I don’t know if any of you have ever had a rhubarb plant, but if you have, you know you can almost never kill it, right? I’ve killed 2 of them here. Finally put one in a half whiskey barrel with good dirt, and that’s working well. But at least with rotten soil it keeps the critters somewhat reduced.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been trying to grow a rhubarb plant for two years here, too. It’s about ten inches tall with spindly little stalks, and it doesn’t look as thought it’s getting any bigger. But at least it hasn’t died yet. And even so, I’d rather have our dead infertile gravel than clay. At least we have good drainage and it’s easier to amend.

        And I think we need to get your Minnesotan robins to write an etiquette book for ours!


        • Give the rhubarb another year or so. Ours didn’t look like anything the first two years, and this year it’s finally looking like we’ll actually be able to harvest something. One thing I learned about it, is that you generally can’t grow it below Zone 4, as it needs to have the really cold temps (like -30 F) to set the seeds. So if you’re getting warmer temps being to close to the coast that could also affect it.


          • That could be. It doesn’t usually get colder than -10C here in the winter. But the soil is very poor, too, so I’ll top-dress it with manure and see if it helps. (Isn’t it funny how we can frequently solve problems by throwing a load of bullshit at them…?) 😉


  9. I built a cage around our vegetable garden and covered it with chicken wire only to discover that the mice in our neighborhood are small enough to fit through the wire.

    This summer I’m thinking of switching to some kind of plate steel …

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! Sounds like a plan. i’m holding out for some Star Trek transparent aluminium.

      The mice help themselves to the strawberries, too (or at least I assume those gnaw-marks are from mice — I’ve never actually seen one out there). At least they’re fairly considerate in their depredations. They usually eat an entire berry and then move on to the next, and there are only so many berries a mouse can eat. (Have I mentioned it’s a really big strawberry patch?) 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I love the mental images I get as I read your posts.
    I also got a flashback to my childhood, I’d still be of nappy age so about 18 months old, it’s a summers morning my mum has just opened the back door, we have a strawberry patch at the bottom of the garden and suddenly there is a blonde flash and before my mum has even hand time to walk to the bottom of the garden with a bowl I’m eating strawberries I think I had more of those strawberries than anyone else did while I was growing up and it was the same every morning, I don’t think netting would have kept me off

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL! I can just imagine you toddling out there and chowing down! We used to raid the garden as kids, too; but the strawberries were off-limits. (Apparently Mom wanted the rest of the family to get some berries, too – who’d’a thunk?)

      But it’s funny — last year I picked and froze a bunch of strawberries, and throughout the winter I caught myself hesitating each time I went to grab a package out of the freezer. It was sheer habit to think, “I’d better not eat those or I’ll be in trouble!” 😉


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