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How to Keep Birds Away (5 Expert Ideas)

How do you keep birds away from your house, flowers, and vegetable garden? If birds have become pests, you’ve come to the right place.

We’re going to show you the best ways of keeping birds away from your house and garden.

In this guide, you'll find:

  • What attracts birds
  • Methods to repel birds
  • How to implement those methods
how to keep birds away

It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. If you’re willing to put in some effort and follow some guidelines you can handle your bird problem.

What Attracts Birds In The First Place?

The secret to bird control is to know what attracts them, then remove those things or prevent them from getting to them. After that, put out a bird deterrent, or three, or four. The more deterrents and repellents you can put out, the fewer birds you’ll see in your garden, perching on your windowsills, or on your property at all.

Pest birds include robins, house sparrows, starlings, crows, and other species of birds. Food sources they're attracted to are insects, earthworms, seeds, rotten fruit, corn, and vegetables of all kinds. 

Woodpeckers are known for drilling into mature coniferous trees as well as mixed-hardwood forests where dead trees can be found, in hopes of finding carpenter ants, beetles, and wood-boring insects.

Read more: These are the top 5 best woodpecker deterrents

how to keep birds away

A lot of people forget that pet food is enormously attractive to many types of birds. If you’re in the habit of feeding your pet(s) outside, you’re also ringing the dinner bell for the birds too.

If you live near the coast or large bodies of water like the Great Lakes, seagulls of various kinds will be swooping down for fish and fruits as well as stealing food from other birds. This is one bird species that is very aggressive and noisy.

In addition to food sources, large birds and smaller birds alike are also attracted to water. If you have a water feature in your yard because you enjoy the sound of it, rest assured, the birds like it too. They’ll adopt it as a birdbath and drinking fountain.

5 Ideas To Keep Birds Away

If you’re looking for a magic bullet that will keep birds away from your house and garden forever, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. There is no such thing no matter what your neighbor has told you.

What you can do to get rid of birds, however, is adopt a layered defense strategy composed of at least three or more of the following ideas:

  • Habitat Modification
  • Deterrents
  • Repellents
  • Bird Traps
  • Shooting

Which three you ultimately decide to use is up to you. We’re going to look at each one separately and discuss the pros and cons as we go along. Some of them will have some sub-categories and we’ll point them out along the way.

By the time we’re finished, you should have a good idea of how you want to proceed in your situation.

Habitat Modification

Birds and animals will only live, or be able to live, in areas where all their basic survival needs are met. If they can’t find food, water, or shelter they’ll have to leave or die. 

These are basic physical requirements they can’t survive without. If you remove those requirements from your property or block their access to them, they’ll have to move away. They don’t have any choice.

how to keep birds away

Habitat modification is a long-range, long-term practice that will have to become part of your life. It involves such things as removing any water features in your backyard or rendering them unpalatable.

For instance, birds, like most animals, require a supply of freshwater to survive. If you substitute saltwater for freshwater in your fountain or water feature, they won’t be able to drink it. They'll smell the salt in the water before they reach it and fly away in search of freshwater somewhere else.

If you store pet food outside, put it in airtight containers. If you feed your pets outside, keep a close eye on them. As soon as they are finished eating, bring their food dish inside or cover it.

If possible, stop feeding them outside and only feed them inside, thus preventing wild birds from swooping in for a meal.

The lids on the garbage cans should be tight or weighted down with a brick to prevent birds and other wildlife from getting into them at night.

If you have a grill in the backyard, turn it on high for a few minutes after you finish cooking on it to ensure any scraps of food on it are burned until they are inedible. After you turn it off, scrub it clean.

Birds like and need coverage during inclement weather and wind. Keep the grass mowed, the hedges trimmed, the trees pruned. This will reduce the available cover for them. 

Use a long stick to dislodge bird nests as soon as they are constructed. Most birds will attempt to rebuild them several times but if you persist, eventually the biological pressure to reproduce will drive them to build a nest somewhere else.

Deterrents

A deterrent is anything that serves to discourage, prevent, or inhibit, so we’ll look at methods to discourage, prevent, and inhibit birds from coming into your yard.

Mechanical

Bird netting is a mechanical means of pest control that birds have a hard time bypassing. You can create a wood or metal framework around your flowerbeds, garden, fruit trees, or anything else you want to keep the birds out of, then drape the bird netting over it.

The size of the mesh on the net will depend on what size bird you’re trying to deter. A net to keep out hummingbirds will require a much tighter mesh than one to keep out songbirds like bluebirds, cardinals, and robins.

There are two things to be aware of when using bird netting.

  1. Use bird netting before your crops are ripe or sprout. It’s easier to prevent birds from feeding on your crops than it is to stop them after they’ve begun. Once they know where a food source is located, they’ll be very persistent in trying to return to it time after time.
  2. Include an exit route in your netting. Too many people get so focused on putting up the framework and netting that they forget to include a door.

Auditory

Birds hear sounds in the 1-4 kHz range. Electronic pest control companies take advantage of this by creating sound deterrent devices that broadcast distress calls and predator growls to confuse birds and scare them away from the area.

Some of these ​ultrasonic repellents, such as the Bird B Gone Sonic Bird Deterrent, can be programmed to operate on a set pattern while others are motion-activated, only springing into action when a bird or some other creature enters their detection area.

Most of these sonic devices are solar-powered but a few of them require an electrical cord.

When positioning these devices, always put them on the borders of your property with the motion sensor facing out. Put them up on top of a fence or hang them from the branches of your trees. In these locations, they’ll be less apt to be triggered by squirrels or chipmunks.

When a bird flies into the sensor range, the sonic device will be triggered and begin making noise. The unexpected noise will startle and scare birds away before they even get to your property. This is the first outer layer of your defenses.

Unfortunately, birds can quickly realize the sounds are just that – sounds. In order to maintain the illusion, you need to turn them off on a random basis. The unpredictability of the sounds will mimic the unpredictability of real predators and birds in distress.

Visual

The next layer is a visual deterrent. Large balloons such as the Bird-X Scare-Eye Bird Repellent Predator Balloons have owl-like eyes painted on them to frighten birds away because they mistake the balloons for a large predatory bird that will attack and kill them.

When the wind is blowing the balloons will bob and weave in the wind, making them seem like they’re alive, furthering adding to the illusion of danger.

Repellents

A repellent is anything that serves or tends to drive away or ward off birds or small mammals. It arouses aversion or disgust and is repulsive to them. When they encounter it, they turn and leave.

Airports have developed a large array of repellent strategies to drive birds away from their takeoff and landing patterns. Here are some of them.

Read more: Pigeon problem? Here are the 5 top pigeon repellents

Decoys

Decoys can take the form of various predatory animals or birds that prey on small birds. They act as a scarecrow to frighten the birds away. One of the most commonly used is a plastic owl decoy on tree branches or the top of your house. 

If you can’t put salt in your pond or water feature, an alligator decoy can work wonders at scaring birds away. Coyote decoys, positioned so they appear to be hiding in the bushes, work too. For the best results, you need at least one of each.

The key with decoys is to move them from one place to another every day. Real predators don’t stay in the same spot all the time and birds know it. If you leave your decoys motionless, it won’t be long before the birds realize they’re fake and lose their fear of them.

Move them every day and have at least three or four different places for each decoy. Use those locations randomly so the birds don’t notice a pattern, and even remove some the decoys while leaving others.

Spikes

Bird spikes that prevent birds from roosting on the fence, tree branches, and overhead beams on your patio are an excellent repellent. The stainless steel spikes are available online and in stores and come in 10-foot lengths.

They are ultra-thin stainless steel bird spikes that poke the birds when they attempt to land or roost. While the spikes are an excellent long-term strategy, you should be aware they won’t work on smaller birds like sparrows or hummingbirds.

Bird Traps

Traps have a spotty history when it comes to birds but they can be used to good effect in combination with other methods. Trapping birds is only effective if you implement methods to keep birds away from your home. Otherwise, they'll come back.

Given the vast differences in birds size though, you’ll need at least one trap for sparrows and other small birds and another trap for larger birds such as robins, pigeons, and cardinals.

Birds are naturally frightened of new objects in their environment so you have to use your traps as bird feeders for the first few days, setting them out with bird seed in them but not set to go off.

Let the birds lose their fear of the traps and get used to eating out of them. After that, you can set the traps and begin catching the birds.

Read more: Our picks for the top 5 best bird traps

Shooting

Last but not least, there is the option of shooting pest birds. This isn't a realistic option for several reasons.

  1. A number of birds breeds are protected and require a permit to kill.
  2. Many cities have strict ordinances against firing a weapon inside the city limits.
  3. Shooting birds requires constant effort. Can you really shoot enough birds to keep them all away?
  4. You have to remove and dispose of all the carcasses.

As a long-term strategy, shooting birds probably won’t work.

Final Thoughts on How to Keep Birds Away

The answer to the question, “How do you keep birds away from your house?” is habitat modification, along with a combination of deterrents and repellents.

There are billions of birds in the world and keeping them away is going to be a never-ending battle. That’s why long-term methods are the best.

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