Preventing Birds from Eating Corn Seed

Farmers have used a variety of methods for protecting their corn seed from birds over the history of cultivation. As recently as 50 years ago, farmers soaked seed in turpentine before planting to make the seed unpalatable to avian pilferers. Today the turpentine is as unappealing to human tastes as it is to birds, so here are several chemical-free techniques you can try, as follows.

Not Just Scarecrows

We all remember just how effective the scarecrow was in the Wizard of Oz. Of course, it wasn’t his appearance, but his movement that scared the birds away from the corn seed in that movie.

There are several effective methods for creating motion in your garden, and this will usually scare most birds away from your corn and other seedlings. Generally, you will enlist the aid of the breeze for these techniques.

  • Set pinwheels at intervals through the rows.
  • Run a line of string from stakes at row ends, and hang ribbon at intervals to create fluttering.
  • Place 3 foot long stakes throughout the garden, and tack a length of string to the top. Cut holes in the edge of aluminum pie pans, and tie the pans to the loose end of your string. The wind will cause the pans to bang against the stake, adding some sound to the motion to scare the birds away.
  • An alternative to aluminum pie pans is empty aluminum cans. These are also light enough to poke hole in and tie to a stake to catch the wind.

Planting Methods

Planting your corn seed deep enough to begin with will discourage birds right from the start. Corn seed needs to be planted at a depth of ½ inch. This will initially hide the seed from the birds, but once the corn seed sprouts, the shoots offer a tender and delectable temptation.

Hoe the dirt right up over the corn sprouts, burying them as you do so, and you will keep the sprouts and the attached corn seed out of the birds’ sight. Continue this practice until the corn shoots reach a height of 6 inches, and by then the root system will be adequate to anchor the corn seed and plant securely in the ground.

Mesh Netting

Ultimately, mesh netting is the most reliable though challenging method of preventing birds from eating your corn seed. Available in garden shops and home improvement stores, plastic mesh netting will create a physical barrier between your corn seed and the birds, and once the sprouts get large enough the netting can be removed.

To install your netting, place U-shaped bamboo stakes along the rows, and lay the netting over it. Secure with wire ties or place rocks or bricks along the excess edges of the netting on the ground. Watering through the netting is easy.

Try one or a combination of these methods, and your corn seed should reach a stage which will no longer interest our feathered friends.