Snakes…that is, birds…in the garden

I walked out the  door this morning and twelve startled birds flew out of the fruit tree in my front yard, zooming across each other’s paths in guilty confusion. It didn’t take long to figure out what they’d been up to. Those greedy little feathered scavengers were having breakfast.

When we moved to Holbrook, we weren’t sure what kind of fruit tree we’d purchased with the house. It was short, dwarf-appearing, and nicely shaped, but in the absence of leaves or flowers, we had no clue. I asked one neighbor if she knew what kind of fruit grew on it. “It’s an ornamental,” she said firmly. “Pretty flowers but no fruit.”

Another neighbor said, “I remember seeing crabapples on that tree.”

“Citrus,” the third neighbor said, but we knew citrus fruit doesn’t grow here. The tree flowered earlier than anything else in the neighborhood and a few weeks after the flowering was done, I happened to be in the yard near it to water some new plantings. I looked at the tree and saw literally hundreds of small balls hanging on its slender stalks. I could tell they were stone fruits of some sort, but which one? Apricots? Peaches?

After some weeks of fruit-watching and  consultation with yet another neighbor, we concluded they were apricots. They grew larger and larger and finally, just days ago, they began to ripen. We noticed the yellowing fruit, and so did the local bird-life.

This morning, I went to check on my lovely, abundant harvest to find that we’d been beaten to the punch. Dozens of our beautiful apricots had been pecked open and destroyed. I called my friend Irene Enlund, who said, “Take down the fruit that’s nearly ripe and see if it’ll finish ripening indoors. Then hang something reflective and shiny  in the tree to discourage the birds.”

Pre-Bird and Post-Bird Apricots

So I went out with my basket and began picking. When I finished gathering the fruit that was nearly ripe, I hung strips of aluminum foil in the tree. There! I thought. That will fix you birds.

I wish I could say it had, but although the birds circled warily for a few minutes when I finished, I can see out my window that they’re back. In fact, one is sitting on a branch with an aluminum foil strip. I don’t think I’m going to win this battle!

You know, I don’t begrudge the birds their breakfast, if they’d just eat whole apricots. But five little pecks out of each one? Seriously? What’s that about? Wasteful little beggars!

Anyone would think they were human…


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Karl S. on June 16, 2012 at 2:59 am

    The last few lines made me laugh. I imagined the tone you had while you were writing this. Greedy little birds! Haha. I am really looking forward to visiting you and Pastor Jeff in a couple of months! I wonder if there will be any fruits left…


    • As it turns out, the fruit has ripened indoors really well, so I’m not as grumpy as I was about those doggone birds! They’re still out there. My office window faces that tree and I can hear them. But as long as we get our share, I’m okay with that. I’m sure there won’t be apricots left when you come, but I’m hoping for sweet corn fresh from the garden for you!


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