- Author: Donna J. Seslar
Once my husband and I had gotten the upper hand on preventing spotted-wing fruit flies from ruining our delicious Lapin cherries, we still had the problem of birds chowing down on them. In previous years, we had covered the tree with bird netting, but needless to say this was always a difficult procedure – both putting it up and taking it down. The bigger negative was that more than one bird got caught in the net…a traumatic experience for all concerned!
So one day while driving through the wine country and observing the balloon-like oddities suspended above the rows of grapes, inspiration struck! The balls had “evil eyes” printed on them and they were moving in the breeze. Putting two and two together: I had previously been advised by Gary Bogue (retired wildlife columnist for the Contra Costa Times) that hanging a yellow smiley-face balloon in the almond tree would keep squirrels at bay. The problem was that the balloons, though seemingly effective for a time, eventually ran out of gas, faded and got stuck in the tree.
We came up with our own solution: a volleyball which we painted with an “evil eye” on each side. It was suspended just above the tree top via a PVC pipe and Voilà! Out of 60 pounds of cherries, about a dozen of them had bird pecks , and these came from the lower branches where I suppose the eye wasn’t visible.
Later in the summer, we hung the volleyball eye above our almond tree and it seemed to keep the squirrel away as well. Our squirrel-crazed bird dogs alerted us every time it hit our neighbors’ almond tree…maybe that had something to do with it too.