How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Several bird species may cause substantial damage by feeding on ripening fruit. Bird damage usually is most severe in orchards that are adjacent to wild or brushy areas where birds find refuge, breeding sites, and other sources of food.
Regular monitoring will help you determine when damage actually starts so you can take action early. Watch for the movement of birds into or within the orchard. As fruit begin to ripen, look for fruit that is damaged or has been knocked from the tree.
Bird counts can help you determine when control measures are necessary and whether previous controls are having an effect. Each season monitor birds moving into the orchard from adjacent habitat and keep track of species by count and location if you have had substantial damage in the past. These records will help you plan control strategies in advance.
Frightening devices. The most effective way to frighten birds from the orchard is to use a combination of noisemakers and visual repellents. For maximum effectiveness, rotate from one type of frightening device to another and do not use one combination of devices for more than a week; otherwise, birds will become used to it.
Shooting. Birds that usually invade orchards in small numbers, such as scrub jays and magpies, can often be controlled by shooting. Check with California Department of Fish and Game officials before shooting any birds. A depredation permit is required if you want to shoot scrub jays. Permits are not presently required for shooting crows, magpies, or starlings that are causing damage, but it is a good idea to check with authorities because regulations may change. Where permissible, occasionally shooting at a few birds will increase effectiveness of your noisemaking techniques, because birds will begin associating loud noises with the real hazards of firearms.
Trapping. Trapping can be an effective way to control house finches and starlings, especially if conducted over a relatively large area such as several orchards. The most effective trap for these species is the modified Australian crow trap. Successful trapping must take into account the behavior patterns of the birds being controlled. Place traps in suitable locations with adequate food and water to keep the trapped birds alive. Trapping is best carried out by someone experienced with the technique. For house finches and crowned sparrows, trapping must be conducted under supervision of the County Agricultural Commissioner.
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Apricot