As soon as the first tomatoes started to ripen - started, mind you, not fully ripened - the bird were ready, lurking on a neighbor's tree just waiting to scoop down for a little tomato-love. I tried to let them ripen on the vine as long as possible, but inevitably, I'd try to leave a tomato on for just a few more hours just to discover during the next inspection that it had been half pecked. Honestly, I don't mind sharing, but the birds were in no mood to share and pecked anything that looked like it might start to ripen. Disappointed that I'd been denied this gardener's pleasure, I started picking the tomatoes yellowish-green and letting them ripen in a paper bag on the counter.
That's when I started to do a little research and let me tell you, the internet is full of 101 ways to scare birds away: scarecrows, pie pans blowing in the wind, wind-chimes, aluminum foil, bird netting, leaving water out for the birds (what they really want from the tomato is moisture), leaving bird food out, hanging red Christmas bulbs before tomatoes ripen (to fool the birds into thinking these red orb things suck)...
I tried all the free options available to me like the aluminum foil, the wind-chimes, and setting out a water dish for the birds. It did slow them down, kinda... but it certainly didn't stop them. Day after day, I was pulling in pecked tomatoes that would have to be eaten without ripening.
That's when Dave wisely suggested we break down and spend a little money for bird netting. It took awhile to figure out where they keep the stuff in the hardware store (in the pest section - hmm. Apropos, no?). It was only $6 roll so we decided to give it a try. We spent all of five minutes on Sunday draping the netting and staking the corners over the 2 x 8 foot bed containing 12 of the 13 tomato plants. The results? Well, those are some mighty fine looking tomatoes still ripening on the vine, aren't they? The war may not be over, but I finally won the battle.