An iconic Australian bird, cockatoos can reek destruction in a productive garden, especially when they arrive as a flock and not a solo act. With their super strong beaks, they are able to easily snap plants in two although they are just as happy to pull up young seedlings. I’ve found them to be particularly fond of tender pea shoots and almost ripe oranges (sigh). They don’t discriminate between crops but are particularly fond of corn and sunflowers. You’ve been warned!
Like any of these bigger pests (yes I’m talking about you possums, bunnies, rats and mice) exclusion using netting or wire mesh is the most reliable option for damage prevention. Should this not be a suitable option for you, I’ve included some additional strategies to try further down this page.
White nylon bird or pest netting, applied correctly, works in nearly all cases.
For netting to be effective, it must be pulled tightly over a frame and attached firmly to the bottom of the beds. This is to stop the cockatoos eating the fruit through the enclosure or entering from underneath. This also prevents wildlife such as bats or birds getting caught up in the nets. Very distressing for the wildlife as well as the person who has to free them.
The frame can be build using anything that will support the net. If you’re not sure where to start, flexible, 25mm poly tube / irrigation pipe works well. There are lots of ways to attach these to your beds. Both the methods below are simple and inexpensive.
- Attach ‘U’ brackets to raised beds then slip the poly pipe into the brackets or
- Place stakes into the soil and fit pipe over the stakes.
Nylon netting can be purchased pre-bagged from garden centres and hardware stores or in can be bought online by the metre. Pest netting is usually UV stabilised so typically last 5 + years depending on usage, even in Australian conditions.
Note: Very occasionally, when cockatoos have had free access to a garden for extended periods of time, this does not deter them and they may tear through the netting to get to the goodies below. Should this be the case, your next best option is a wire / metal enclosure.
Try combining a few of these alternative methods for better results than employing one method at a time.
Realistic looking predators
Strategically positioning realistic looking predators such as rubber snakes or hawks in the garden can be helpful. These should be moved on a regular basis so that cockatoos don’t get used to them.
Make some noise
Loud noise will scare them off. Clap or yell whenever you see them. This method relies on spotting them when they come to visit. Some say that recording the distress call of the cockatoo (made when you scare them off) can work as well.
Get your water pistol out
Squirt them with water either via a water pistol or a motion activated water sprayer such as the ‘Scare Crow‘.[kkstarratings]