Prevent Birds From Targeting Your Apple Orchard

Jul 21, 2023
Basket of apples with a crow

Apple cider is a wonderful autumn treat, especially when you taste it directly at the source from an orchard’s own fresh apples! Birds can play a useful role in an apple orchard, but they’re also a source of some significant risks.

A key benefit of having birds around apple orchards is insect pest control. Especially in the spring and summer when the trees are devoting resources to producing apples, preventing insect pests from interfering can help increase yield.

Many bird species are primarily insectivorous in the spring and summer as they search for high protein food sources to feed their growing chicks. Having insectivorous birds present in an orchard significantly reduces insect pests known to damage trees and reduce yield.

But while some birds love a juicy insect, there are plenty of others out there who prefer the taste of a juicy bit of fruit.

What Are the Dangers to Apple Orchards From Birds?

Sweet fruit like apples are a target for some bird species, especially crows, starlings, and turkeys. Losses in yield can average 6% to 18% of the orchard’s crop. Pecking damage can ruin an apple for cider production, even when only a small amount of the apple is impacted.

European Starling

The European Starling is a voracious apple eater!

Bird droppings can also contaminate apples with bacteria like Salmonella spp. and E. coli. Birds produce a lot of waste. As they’re flitting from branch to branch snacking on some apples, they’re contaminating others.

Bird contamination is a risk even after apples have been picked. Once apples are harvested, they must be stored to soften before processing. House sparrows and pigeons, pervasive in and around buildings at farms, can deposit waste in storage and processing areas as well. Apples must be carefully washed before being processed into cider but can still pose a risk of bacterial contamination. Ciders sold in stores must be pasteurized to prevent this. But this added step and expense is not required for ciders sold on site at orchards.

Machines can be used to wash apples, but this may not remove 100% of bird contamination, especially if birds are also present in the cider processing area, leaving people who drink cider at risk of illness.

Pigeons and House Sparrows

Pigeons and house sparrows get into buildings and contaminate the cider in process.

Minimize Losses Caused by Birds in Orchards & Cider Production Facilities

Keeping pest birds away from apple orchards and cider processing areas can go a long way toward preventing an outbreak of illness from cider.

Solutions like netting trees and autonomic lasers can be highly successful in the orchard. Netting off perching areas in buildings and fixing small holes to prevent birds from getting into storage and processing stations can help keep those areas clean and sanitary.

Laser repellent systems are also effective, with an intermittent laser flash that works around the clock to effectively and harmlessly scare birds away. This cost-efficient solution can eliminate bird nuisance by up to 90%.

Professional Solutions for Apple & Cider Producers to Solve Bird Conflicts

At Migratory Bird Management, we have decades of experience helping agricultural businesses prevent bird-related risks and losses. With a safe, cost-effective and biology-led approach, we provide our agricultural clients with a customized and integrated approach to their bird conflicts.

To learn about our array of solutions and products for minimizing your bird-related losses, contact a member of our team today.

Contact us to learn about our bird control solutions