Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

September 1966


I don't see any solution in sight for fruit damage caused by birds. I think that one of the reasons is that there has been very little research done concerning the relationship between birds and fruit crops. Probably the reason is that those birds responsible are protected species, and they are highly desirable birds in the eyes of the public. For instance, one of the species that is responsible for heavy losses in fruit crops is the robin. It is the state bird in Michigan, yet it causes a number of problems there each year. Another problem is that growing fruit isn't as common as grain production. Wherever you do have fruit in any concentration, the losses are severe in most cases. Every district in which I've been stationed I've run into this kind of problem. I've seen it in New England, the Southeast, and now the Midwest. Each time the question is: "How do I keep birds from eating cherries, blueberries, grapes, and so forth." And I just don't know. For the most part the problem is birds eating ripe fruit. In two instances, I've seen large roosts of starlings in apple orchards, contaminating fruit through their roosting habits. In Massachusetts, we had trouble with grouse damaging apple orchards by eating the fruit buds. Many of the state game departments would love to have this problem. For the most part my comments will be limited to those experiences which I've had in Maine, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Michigan, and Ohio. My first association with bird damage concerned seagulls eating blueberries. I ran into seagulls eating cranberries, and recently I hear that they have been caught eating tomatoes. These gull problems took place in Maine. In Massachusetts I had experience with songbirds taking blueberries and peaches; in South Carolina it was starlings in grapes; Ohio has had problems with songbirds in blueberries, cherries, and grapes, and Michigan, again, songbirds in cherries and blueberries.