Birds nest in ferns because it offers them food, shelter, and safety.
However, it’s not always a good idea to allow them to. They can kill your ferns, leave a lot of poop and debris around, and spread disease to you and your family.
So how to keep birds out of ferns? You can do three things:
- Prevent them from nesting in the first place.
- Frighten them away with sounds and specific decorations.
- Set up protection for your ferns.
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5 Step-by-step Methods to Keep Birds Out of Ferns
The best way to keep birds out of ferns is to let them know they are not welcome and prevent them from settling in in the first place! Once they’re in, they’re much trickier to get out.
Here are five simple yet effective tips for you to try.
1. Check your ferns regularly
Most birds build their nests in the early spring to prepare for mating season.
During this period, check your ferns regularly and remove anything that looks like nesting material. This can be anything from twigs and feathers to pieces of yarn.
You may need to do this several times to get your message to the birds, but they’ll eventually get frustrated and find somewhere else to build their nest.
2. Hang shiny, moving things
- Old CD’s
- Aluminum foil strips
- Baking tins
- Reflective tape
Shiny, moving things startle birds. Therefore, one effective way for keeping birds away is to hang up these objects.
Strips of aluminum foil or baking tins that will blow in the wind work well. If you can find a pinwheel with shiny “petals,” this would also be an excellent option.
If you have them, you can also hang up old CDs, which have the added benefit of surprising birds with their reflection. Birds can’t easily comprehend their reflection and will be scared away, thinking it’s an entirely different bird looking at them.
3. Make noise
- Wind chimes
- Ultrasonic bird-repellent devices
Being the skittish animals that they are, even a little noise can startle birds.
The simplest way to use this tactic is to be noisy every time you pass your ferns–you can stomp your feet, clap your hands, or do anything loud. This is enough to keep robins away.
Since you can’t do that every day, though, you can also hang up a simple wind chime under your ferns.
Lastly, If you are willing to spend a little bit (or get irritated by your wind chime), ultrasonic bird-repellent devices are available on the market.
4. Use decoys
- Toy predators (plastic or rubber owls, snakes, coyotes, hawks, etc.)
- Toy birds
In the wild, birds typically don’t stop and stare at a potential predator for long to make sure it is what they suspect. For example, birds will be off to the safety of their branches at the first flash of bright green.
You can use this to your advantage by coiling a rubber snake around your ferns or installing fake owls or coyotes at the right spots in your garden.
For best effect, move them around occasionally, so birds will think they are truly alive.
If you feel a little guilty about scaring your birds away with fake predators, consider giving them the impression your ferns are already occupied instead.
For this tactic, simply place toy birds in your ferns. This should discourage your birds lay eggs in plant pots because (they think) someone beat them to it.
5. Protect your ferns
If you need even more help keeping birds out of garden, consider protecting your ferns. There are several easy options to do this.
- Cover your ferns with bird mesh or chicken wire. These will get rid of birds nesting but may be a little unsightly for your garden.
- A wooden spike deters birds from building a nest because they can’t land in your fern pot! You can either purchase actual bird spikes or bird coils or simply use bamboo skewers, sharp side pointing up.
- Sprinkle baking soda on your soil. Baking soda is an excellent mourning dove deterrent because birds dislike the powdery feeling on their feet. The substance also does not harm your ferns.
- Create a homemade sparrow repellent. Birds will be repelled by sprays that include chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic. Optionally, leave a garlic bulb out or place some garlic oil on your soil.
What Birds Build Nests in Hanging Plants?
Species that build nests in hanging plants first have to fit in them! So these birds are typically smaller species, such as house finches, mourning doves, or robins. Many homeowners have also reported catching house sparrows in their ferns.
Here are three recipes for bird-repellent sprays you can make at home. All these recipes will require a jar to mix the solution and a spray bottle for application.
1. Chili Pepper Spray
- Two dozen chili peppers
- Half a gallon of water
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Crush about two dozen chili peppers, allowing all the spicy capsaicin oils to come out. Mix the crushed chili peppers into a half gallon of water and allow the mixture to ferment for five days.
After fermentation, add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to the solution before transferring it to a spray bottle.
2. Cayenne Pepper Spray
- Two tablespoons of cayenne pepper
- One gallon water
- Liquid dish soap
Mix one gallon of water, two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Allow the mixture to sit overnight. The next day, transfer the solution into a spray bottle and start misting your greens!
3. Garlic Spray
- Eight cloves garlic
- 2 cups olive oil
Crush eight garlic cloves and mix in with 2 cups of olive oil. Give the mixture five days to become fully saturated before transferring it to a spray bottle and spraying all areas you’d like to keep bird-free, including your plants.
Birds are fantastic to have in the garden. It’s lovely to see them enjoying your feeder and birth bath–but not your hanging ferns!
How to keep birds out of ferns is a common problem for many homeowners. Thankfully, many simple and cheap solutions are available that will barely cost anything.
However, if none of these solutions work or are to your liking, you could offer your birds an alternative shelter. Set up a nest box or birdhouse and see if you can tempt them to nest there instead.