Birds are beautiful animals from afar, but they can quickly become destructive pests that can destroy your home, flowers, and vegetable garden. Certain species of birds don’t even have natural predators, which means that there is no natural bird control for these species of birds.
If you’re struggling with pest birds on your property, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn about the best ways to keep birds away from your home, garden, and roof.
Here are the topics we’ll cover in this article on bird control and how to scare birds away:
- Top 7 Ways to Keep Birds Away
- Top 5 Natural Solutions
- What Attracts Birds?
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
Top 7 Ways to Keep Birds Away
If you’ve found nuisance birds on your property, you’re probably wondering what kind of pest control steps you can take to protect your garden, home, and property from the damage that birds can do to your home. Unfortunately, birds can be highly destructive between their roosting habits, nasty droppings, damage to your gutters, and more.
Here are our top recommendations for keeping birds away from your home:
- Use mechanical bird deterrents. You can use bird netting to physically exclude birds trying to get to your flower beds, garden, fruit trees, etc. Simply drape bird nets over it, and they won’t be able to get through. Before choosing your bird netting, look at the size of the mesh on the net and consider the type of bird you’re trying to keep out. For example, a hummingbird will need a much tighter mesh than larger birds like songbirds, cardinals, robins, or bluebirds would. We also recommend using bird netting over your crops before they ripen or sprout because it’s easier to prevent birds from eating at your crops than it is to stop them after they’ve already begun. Birds can be highly persistent about going after a known food source, so prevent them from the beginning to avoid this dilemma.
- Try auditory deterrents to repel birds. Birds can hear in the 1-4 kHz range, which is much better than humans can hear. Electronic pest control companies have taken advantage of this by creating sound deterrent devices that emit distress calls and predator growls, which confuse birds and scare them away from the area. Many of these ultrasonic repellents are on a set pattern, but some are motion-activated by birds or other critters coming in the nearby area. You will need to consider if you want an ultrasonic repellent that is solar-powered or requires an electrical outlet before purchasing. We recommend positioning them on the border of your property, with any motion sensor facing outwards, and hanging them from a tree, or placing them on top of a fence. This will diminish your chances of the motion sensor being activated by a squirrel. The unexpected noise will help keep away birds. However, birds may realize that there is only noise and no actual predator over time, so we recommend turning your device off periodically to keep it fresh and unpredictable.
- Use visual deterrents. Visual deterrents can be highly effective against a variety of bird species. Giant balloons, such as the Bird-X Scare Eye Repellent Predator Balloon, have large owl-like eyes painted on them. These balloons frighten birds away because they believe a predator will attack them. You can also try hanging shiny items, like strips of aluminum foil, old CDs, or wind chimes which will move in the wind and reflect light, scaring birds away. Reflective tape is also sold and can startle birds. Anything that moves in the wind will be extra effective at scaring birds away and mimicking their predators, such as birds of prey.
- Place bird spikes on your property. If you have a problem with birds roosting on your property, use bird spikes on your tree branches, roof, overhead beams, and fence to repel birds away. Bird spikes are ultra-thin stainless steel spikes that poke the bird when they try to land or roost in these areas. They don’t hurt the birds but are enough of a hindrance to prevent most birds from landing. Keep in mind that small birds, like hummingbirds and sparrows, will still be able to land between the spikes.
- Set bird traps. Trapping needs to be used alongside other preventative methods that repel birds. Otherwise, you’ll have birds constantly coming back to your property. First, you’ll need to consider the size of the birds on your property because smaller birds will need a much smaller cage than larger birds like woodpeckers. Birds are timid around new objects in their environment, so let them use the traps for the first few days as bird feeders, where they are not set to go off. Once birds eat out of the trap regularly, then you can start catching the birds and releasing them away from your home.
- Shooting pest birds. This is the least realistic of these options because most areas will not allow you to fire a weapon within city limits, and many bird species are protected by law and require a permit to kill. Shooting pest birds also requires a lot of time, effort, and clean-up, which is a lot more work than other methods of keeping birds away.
Apply professional bird scent repellents. Many scents repel birds, and there are a variety of products on the market that you can spray on parts of your home where birds land, such as eaves or window sills. Always check to make sure these are child and pet-friendly if that is a concern for you.
Top 5 Natural Solutions
If you’re interested in natural ways that you can use to scare birds away from your property, here are our top five natural solutions for bird control:
- Habit Modification. Habit modification is a long-term solution involving removing things from your property to deter birds from hanging around. Start by removing any bird baths or bird feeders on your property because food and water are significant attractants. All birds need freshwater to survive, so taking away your bird bath is one step to discourage birds from hanging around. If you have water features, try substituting saltwater for freshwater so that birds cannot drink it. Birds can smell the salt in the water and won’t even bother landing to test the water. We also recommend not leaving pet food outside or storing it in airtight containers. Also, check that all of your garbage cans are sealed and weighed down to prevent birds and wildlife from breaking into your trash cans at night.
- Keep up with landscaping. Birds need coverage during inclement weather and strong winds. Keep up with mowing your grass, trimming your hedges, and pruning trees. This will minimize the available cover for birds during these weather storms. You can also use long sticks to dislodge bird nests after they are constructed. If they continue rebuilding their bird nests, then keep dislodging them until the bird decides to move on.
- Use plastic owl decoys. Fake owl decoys can be highly effective at scaring off birds because you’re playing into their natural, deep-rooted fear of birds of prey. The key is that you have to move these around your property consistently, or birds will eventually notice that these are not actual threats and will no longer be scared off your property. Try placing these on tree branches, the tops of fences, or the top of your house. Try placing an alligator decoy in your pond or water feature to scare birds away if you have water. Coyote decoys can also be effective at scaring birds off. The only downside of this strategy is that you will need to move these decoys regularly, nearly every day, to keep birds convinced of the danger.
- Apply essential oils to your property. Many birds find peppermint oil to be a disgusting scent, which can drive them away from your property. Apply diluted peppermint oil to your property to ward birds away. The best part is that most humans find the smell of peppermint oil pleasant, so this won’t disturb your enjoyment of the outdoors in the process.
Use cayenne pepper to your advantage. Cayenne pepper is another natural remedy that birds can’t stand to be around. Simply sprinkle cayenne pepper around plants or other areas that birds frequent on your property. Many pests, including birds and skunks, cannot stand the smell, so this will repel them from the site.
Habit modification is a long-term solution involving removing things from your property to deter birds from hanging around.
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What Attracts Birds?
The secret to any type of pest control is knowing why pests are attracted to your property. After you’ve worked on modifying your property to reduce the number of attractive features, you can start adding different repellents and deterrents to discourage birds from coming onto your property.
Pest birds, such as sparrows, robins, starlings, crows, and other species of birds, are usually attracted to food sources, like earthworms, insects, rotting fruit, vegetables, and corn.
Other birds, like woodpeckers, are known for looking for food sources in dead trees, which are often overtaken by beetles, wood-boring insects, and carpenter ants. They are also attracted to mature coniferous trees and mixed-hardwood forest trees — anywhere dead trees may be found.
Depending on the type of birds you’re dealing with, you’ll want to consider ways that you can modify their habitat on your property. Can you net crops to prevent pest birds from eating your crops? Can you remove pet food to eliminate a possible food source?
Keep in mind that seagulls may also be a problem if you live near the coast or great bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes. Seagulls can swoop in to aggressively steal food and fruits from humans and other birds.
Birds also need access to water, so try removing or altering any water sources on your property. If you can switch to salt water instead of freshwater, do this to deter birds from drinking from the bird bath or water feature on your property.
Birds are lovely creatures from afar, but up close, they can be destructive pests that can ruin your crops, create holes in your trees, roost, and spread nesting materials all over your property. Nobody wants to live with pests like that, so don’t hesitate to take steps now to keep birds away from your home. Always start with habitat modification to improve the root of the problem, then use a couple of deterrents and repellents to scare away the birds on your property.
Unfortunately, there are many birds in the world, so this is a long-term battle, which is why long-term solutions, like habitat modification, will be your best friend in fighting back. If the problem isn’t improving, we recommend reaching out to your local pest control professional to have expert help in keeping birds off your property.