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Kirby: Beating down birds in the berry patch

Published June 1, 2012 10:25 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I'm losing a fight in my own backyard. Before resorting to outright violence, I thought a fifth opinion might be in order. The first four opinions are already in, all of them against gunfire.

Wife: "I'll call the cops again."

Police: "If we come back, you're going to jail."

Neighbor: "Hey! Did you put this hole in my shed?"

Granddaughter: "Don't shoot birdies, Papa. They're good."

The hell they are. The #%&* are cleaning out my strawberry planter like it's a buffet.

I'm open to nonviolent suggestions for scaring birds off. But if I don't find something soon, I have a .54-caliber Sharps rifle I'm pretty sure will stop a charging sparrow in its tracks.

Normally, I get along with birds, the one exception being seagulls, which are only technically birds in that they have feathers and can fly. Seagulls are actually sky carp. I have no idea why they're the state bird — and neither does anyone else who makes sense.

Other birds are completely welcome, including larks, finches, sparrows, ducks, predator drones and even starlings. The bugs they kill are worth the noise and the mess they make.

The fight I'm losing is to a couple of robins I shall refer to here by their nommes de rob, Butch and Sundance.

It started last summer, when I planted $90 worth of strawberry starts. I didn't want to, but my wife thought it was a good way for me to pay her back for something that wasn't entirely my fault and I can't tell you about right now because Sonny's wife still doesn't know.

Anyway, the point is that I planted some strawberries and I'm not letting Butch and Sundance steal them. I have tried everything except shooting them. And that's next if I don't find something else that works.

Yes, I know it's spring. Butch and Sundance probably have a hideout nest somewhere with the next generation of thieves still in it. I don't care. If it comes down to a choice between baby birds and strawberry jam, the jam wins.

I've been patient. Here's what I have already tried.

Plastic owl • An expensive one with a head that rotates in the wind. It's mounted on a fence post and looks like something out of "The Exorcist." It scares every bird except Butch and Sundance. It also scares my grandkids.

Netting • I covered the strawberries with bird netting. It disappeared. A couple of days later, I saw it hanging from a deer's antlers. So, I built a fence. The cost worked out to $85 per berry.

Cat decoy • I put a decoy feline in the berry patch. The only thing it fooled was the neighbor's cat, who fell in love and began serenading it in the middle of the night.

Scarecrow • The one I built looked like Nick Nolte on a bender. It was covered in bird droppings within a week.

Whirlygigs • Got this wind-powered pinwheel with a horrible face from the Internet. It's supposed to make a sound birds hate. It doesn't. It makes a sound I hate. The birds dance to it.

Dynamite • Just kidding. For now.

If you've got anything that works, let me know. I've reached the point where I'm ready to try it. If it's loud and the cops come, I promise not to mention your name.

rkirby@sltrib.com