Wood Pigeons (aka Fruit Raiders)


Feathered raider of a strawberry patch trying to look innocent.  (31 May 2020)

Wood pigeons are a major allotment pest, who given the chance will strip your gooseberries clean off the bush, and will also pick at and devastate your strawberry beds.

Our strawberries were being pecked at – annoyingly the birds peck at each berry and then move on to sample the next available berry – so the damage can be widespread and heart-breaking.

And last year (in summer 2019) our gooseberry bushes were completely stripped of the fruit that we’d lovingly watched ripening-up.

So we’ve learned that mesh protection isn’t silly or over-the-top, but in fact, is absolutely necessary if you have any interest in eating the crops you’re growing.  To this end, we created a new pea-mesh enclosed four poster palace for our two gooseberry bushes.


Wood pigeon caught in the act ravaging a strawberry bed at the height of the berry harvest on a neighbouring allotment plot. (31 May 2020)

Wood pigeons also like nibbling on fresh garden grown peas and beans…

And be aware – the netting isn’t a ‘solution’ so much as a deterrent, sad as that is to say.

One day as we were sitting up under the shade of our big allotment umbrella, we could see our strawberry netting jumping before our eyes. The big dude jumped up and bounded down the stairs – and lo and behold a huge wood pigeon who’d been rustling around at the edges flew up and away.  So take it from us, these birds, attractive as they are, are also audacious and cheeky – brazen in their attempts to raid your plot of the jewels and fruits of your labours, even if you’re only a few feet away.

The wood pigeon up at the plots are very healthy looking – plump and glossy and full of self-possession.  They are definitely exceptionally well-fed on such delights as strawberry, gooseberry, cherries, currants, plum, apples and more.  In addition for their preference for fruits of all kinds, they are also partial to pecking from the ground young plants and leaves, which means seed beds are also usefully covered.  Many people use old large wire racks from discarded deep freezer units and such like.

Covering plants is a pain.  But so is losing them.  Which explains why so many of the plots at the allotment have full height growing cages and netting protection.  We’re not there yet, but…