We have many young fruit trees, including three figs. We have a Black Mission, a white and a Strawberry Jam fig. The trees are a year in the ground and not quite head-height, but all produce small amounts of fruit which ripen sequentially.
The birds know about the figs.
I’m glad to share a percentage of my crops with wildlife; this is a habitat after all, and there is more than enough for me and for sharing. However, there aren’t a lot of figs to go around. My daughter while home from University this summer took on a competitive attitude when harvesting the figs. She was out early testing for perfect ripeness, testing again as the sun set, being foiled by pecked fruit when it was at its peak of perfection.
Netting trees is not a good idea. The netting sits on the trees and the birds sit on it and peck through. Meanwhile it snags and sticks on the trees and is almost impossible to remove without doing damage to the trees. Also that plastic or nylon netting, if left on the ground, will often be deadly to beneficial snakes which become entangled in it (read about how I released one here).
Miranda came up with a wonderful, easy solution that re-purposed something of which we had plenty: plastic berry baskets. These baskets were hard enough to form a space around the fruit so that a bird couldn’t get its beak down through it. They also allowed air to flow around the fruit and sunshine in to ripen. They were also incredibly easy to quickly twist-tie onto the branch around an almost-ripened fig, and reposition to the next fig when it was time to pick the first one. The long twist-ties often used to hold heads of lettuces together worked best. Extra baskets were handy to put the picked figs into as well. This solution could be used for small grape clusters as well.
Obviously this solution is for small trees; but then, when the tree is large it will be producing plenty of fruit to share with the birds. Or, we can get a ladder and a lot of berry baskets and twist-ties.
That, however, may just cause talk in the neighborhood.