With a garden that appears more secure than the White House, this was something I wasn't expecting: The vertical assault.

So consumed was I with preventing the rabbits from lunching on my plants, it didn't dawn on me -- a novice gardener -- that the birds would be the first to harvest my strawberries. How deflating.

Strawberries are NOT just for the birds.

Strawberries are NOT just for the birds.

I have a love-hate relationship with birds: They are pretty to look at from afar -- even I can appreciate the beauty of some of them -- but scary as heck up close and when they're flying toward you. To be honest, I really don't like them. At all. And adding produce thieves to their list of traits is doing them no favors. My neighbors, however, feel differently. Many of them have a bird feeder or two in their yards or gardens, and apparently the birds eat the main course there and visit the dessert buffet in my garden.

Now my research has turned to literally protecting the fruits of my labor. It's an important task, as my family loves strawberries, and I hope to expand my berry garden next year. Most of the information I've found has recommended bird netting, but I'm open to other options. I'm looking for something easy, not very expensive and safe. As much as I don't want my strawberries plucked from my garden, I really don't want to be plucking birds from the garden, too.

What have you found to be an effective way to protect your garden from aerial attacks?