Sharing Fresh Figs

How do you know your figs are ripe? Well, about a week before perfection, exactly at the point where the juice and sugar content soar, the birds will descend on the tree and eat holes in all ripe and barely ripe figs. The fruit is ripe when it stops hanging out from the branch and droops downward. I’ll never see it happen if these birds continue with their voracious habits.

Almost-ripe figs
Almost-ripe figs

If the birds ate half the figs, and left me half,  I’d be happy. But birds will drill holes in all the figs. I’m amazed at how tiny finches, barely out of the nest, are bold enough to ignore my cats, ignore me, in fact, even when I’m wielding a broom. These birds, with brains the size of a shelled pea, outsmart me with ease. They stay three inches beyond the reach of my broom, feasting on figs, scattering fig parts and poop all over the walkway.

There is no rubber snake, pinwheel, pieces of mylar that scares these birds. Huge, aggressive grackles, tiny finches,  and busy hummingbirds all snack on the figs.

Netting is not the answer, either. The tree is 15-feet high, and between the side of the house and the block fence. Part of the tree hangs over into the neighbors’ yard–guarded by a jealous pit bull. I’d need access to their yard, and the dog is not inclined to let me share the yard any more than the birds will let me share the figs.

Two almost-ripe figs

The thing about nets in trees is they are put up by humans so birds can outsmart them. Birds fly under them with ease. You then have a bird that can’t find its way out from under the net. I don’t want broken-winged birds, and I don’t want panicky birds. Panicky birds poop and flap, and I’m losing enough figs.

Quinn McDonald is a nature lover who loves fresh fig preserves. She may not get any this season unless she buys figs from the farmer’s market. Quinn has two websites: one for professional training at and her art journaling site at