The blueberry wars

>>The blueberry wars


I think the birds have put out a contract on me. Warnings haven’t worked, and they’ve decided it’s time for more drastic action. And fast–before blueberry season is over.


The bushes in question, full of about 87,000 big, juicy blueberries. I counted. So did the birds.

You see, I’ve developed a real taste for the blueberries ripening in my backyard–four bushes’ worth of gloriously huge, sweet berries. The birds tell me they have prior claim and they’ve been waiting all summer for their berries to ripen…just as I horn in.


Worse still, I’m taking all the ripe ones, and making big, smacking “mmmmmmmmm” noises when I do it. I figure there are plenty of berries for everyone, but the birds just don’t see it that way. To them, I’m picking their berries, and it’s gotta stop.


Actually, that’s wrong–you don’t PICK blueberries. They pick you. I’ve learned to tickle a cluster of big, midnight-blue berries, gently stroke them and wiggle them on their stems just a tiny bit. Done right, the sweetest and juiciest fall right into your hand, leaving the rest on the branch to sugar up.

You don’t get as many berries that way, but the ones you do get have amazing flavor. On hot days, you can tickle berries once in the morning, once in the evening, and see how many actually make it into the house and not your mouth.


The results of this morning's blueberry tickling session.

I may OD on berries, which is really ticking off the birds. This weekend I noticed a dozen or so birds of assorted sizes and colors, perched on the trees and fence near the berries. They were making wild birdnoise, a pleasing serenade for the munching of blueberries.

It was puzzling, though; normally I can’t get within 20 feet of the backyard birds. I could reach out a hand and nearly touch these; they’d flutter just out of reach and settle back down.

Then one divebombed my head, to raucous applause, and I got the message: Get the heck out of our berry bushes. I noticed, here and there, beak marks in the darkest, ripest berries. I got lots of pointed, beady-eyed looks.


Glares, really.

Of course, when you get right down to it, they do have a point: I’m not a frequent a visitor to my backyard (except in blueberry season), while they live there. From the perspective of eminent domain, they may have the stronger moral claim to the blueberries.

Yet I have the deed, I pay the mortgage and I’m a lot bigger than they are. And I really love these blueberries. Had ’em for breakfast, in fact. Yum.


I’ve considered putting up birdnetting, preventing the birds from reaching the berries at all. Seems like poor sportsmanship, though. I could put up aluminum foil and jangly windchimes, maybe a scarecrow, to frighten the birds away, but it kinda seems like overkill. And if these birds aren’t bothered by ME in the middle of the blueberry patch, is a dead guy made out of straw gonna do any better?


Frankly, though, I’d rather share. I don’t mind letting the birds have a few berries (although I wish they’d pick one and eat it rather than taking  one nip each out of the best). The question is, though, whether the birds will agree to sharing. Right now they don’t seem amenable to compromise.

If I suddenly stop blogging, I’ve either been taken care of…or I’m out eating blueberries.



  1. Cynthia July 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Hi, Peggy, and thanks for the kind words. Ten foot high blueberry bushes? Wow. So far I’ve never had any blueberries leftover at the end of the season, but I know Mom’s frozen some of what I’ve given her. (She says hi, BTW)

    I have a lot of garden-happy neighbors, and they like to trade, so those blueberries also yield potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, cookies and a loaf of bread. 😉

    You folks should come out for a visit sometime–Mom’s got a new dog, Toby, who I swear has become my younger brother.


  2. Patsy Vogler Paul July 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Cynthia, I discovered your website yesterday and it is awesome! Your blueberry war is my blueberry war as well. I have two very old large bushes, one about 8′ and one about 10′, and this year they are heavily laden with those luscious berries. The birds fuss at me the whole time I am picking, and when I’m not watching, they peck the largest fruit…just like your pictures portray. I do not know the names of my bushes (they came with the house), but the largest clusters really look like grape clusters. And…I do freeze them; the frozen berries are great in cereal but I thaw them for use in everything else. So far, I have frozen 26 qts and eaten about 3. My friends are coming to pick berries in the morning before it gets so blazing and humidly hot. Your website is a joy and I’m so glad I found it. I sent it to my siblings and they are equally impressed. Great job! But, I’m really not surprised at your many talents…genes are powerful.

  3. Linda Steider July 16, 2009 at 7:14 am - Reply

    There is nothing that will keep the birds from those blueberries! They find a way under the net & you’ll have to rescue them like Nikki said. I fight the same war every year, but your bushes are way more productive than mine are!! Think I have 20 berries almost ripe!

  4. gary July 15, 2009 at 7:44 am - Reply

    On second thought…

    Auto-targeted, mini-gatling gun with .25 mm mini-depleted U projectiles.

  5. Nikki July 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Great photos; we just share with the birds. I tried netting once but got tired of releasing birds that somehow made their way in and got trapped. It’s mainly the catbirds that scarf up most of the berries, just the ripest ones, and they mostly eat the whole berry. Blueberies sometimes have larval grubs inside..more protein for them. Makes them less appetizing for me.


  6. Rinee July 14, 2009 at 11:11 am - Reply

    When I lived at at home, my Dad always had a small garden.. (he still does only lots smaller. ) We also had wild rabbits. Of course the rabbits loved my Dads garden so….he always planted extra to share. I dont think I will ever forget this kindness.

    I vote for sharing but I do agree-they could eat the whole berry instead of stabbing them and leaving a hole.

  7. Kathleen Krucoff July 14, 2009 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Great pictures. Sounds like sharing is the way to go.

  8. Ellen Abbott July 14, 2009 at 2:43 am - Reply

    Looks like plenty to go around to me.

  9. Cyndy July 13, 2009 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I was going to suggest a net too…but since you have 87,000 berries on that one bush alone…I expect you’ll be able to share. Just wear a helmet when picking.

  10. gary July 13, 2009 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Screw ’em. Get a net!

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