Got Pest Birds? Here’s How to Scare Birds Away

While bird populations in North America have dropped considerably in the past 40 years, birds tend to nest or rest on the nation’s coasts where nearly half the U.S. human population lives or works. Most birds serve an important role in the ecosystem, but three species of birds in the U.S. are considered pests. Birds categorized as pests include the pigeon, the house sparrow, and the starling. As pests, they can be legally controlled with no justification other than the property owner’s displeasure. Of course, there are many other reasons to scare birds away.

Besides being a nuisance and defacing homes, boats, buildings and monuments, pest birds also pose a serious health hazard. Because of their easy and far-reaching mobility, they can vector an alarming variety of serious diseases. Among these are histoplasmosis (a lung disease that can be fatal if untreated), salmonella, ornithosis (a lower or upper respiratory disease resulting in fever, chills and headache), pseudotuberculosis (causing fever and abdominal pain), and several other diseases, including West Nile Virus via

parasites (like fleas and mites) that live on their bodies or grow in their droppings.

If you want to scare birds away, it helps to know a little about the birds we regard as pests. The first of our fine-feathered friends is the pigeon. Initially introduced from Europe as pets, pigeon populations have expanded almost exponentially and are now considered by many to be pests. These birds congregate in huge numbers and contaminate public areas with their droppings. They deface both stone and metal monuments, and present a serious risk to aircraft.

Next up is the starling. An imported species not native to North America, starlings nest in roof soffits, electrical boxes, and structural crevices of buildings. Young starlings often gather in huge flocks where their droppings deface and damage structures and monuments, park benches, playgrounds and other areas.

Finally, there’s the sparrow. These small birds build fancy nests in gutters, electrical boxes, roof soffits, door housings, and other man-made openings. Sparrows often create expensive problems when they clog rain gutters and downspouts. Their elaborate nests in electrical equipment can cause electrical shorts and fires.

So how to scare birds away?

For pigeons and large birds, one proven and highly effective methods is the use of Bird Spike strip. They look menacing, especially to pest birds, but they won’t harm them. The spikes simply discourage birds from landing. Some bird spikes are made of rigid unbreakable polycarbonate. Others employ flexible stainless steel. Another option is the Bird Spider. The spider arms flagellate with the breeze to scare birds away. Spiders are available in a wide range of diameters to deter different bird sizes and cover wider and wider areas. They require little or no maintenance and they won’t harm birds.

One of the most economical ways to scare birds away is through the use of Bird Scare products. These flashy, twirling objects and banners use iridescent reflective foil and shiny tape to create an “Optical Distraction Zone” that discourages pest birds from landing. An unusually effective bird scare product is the inflatable balloon with lifelike reflective predator eyes. These scare-eye diverters are easily attached in areas frequented by birds. Some even feature glow-in-the-dark backsides to repel birds at night. Bird scare products can be easily set up in and around patios, vineyards, pool areas, overhangs, gazebos, boats and other troublesome areas.

A more technical approach to scare birds away involves the use of Electric Shock Bird Repellers. Ideal for pigeons, seagulls and larger birds, these repellers use electrified tracks to impart a mild electric shock when birds try to land. The pest birds are not injured; the mild “jolt” just changes their roosting habits so that they move on. The tracks are easily mounted on signs, ledges, rooftops, and flat or curved surfaces. Some manufacturers offer low profile tracks that are virtually invisible from ground level. Other manufacturers offer electric tracks with a flow-through design to prevent water from damming up on rooftops and other surfaces.

Imagine the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard and you’ll get an idea of what our next category of bird scare products sounds like–at least to a bird. Known as Audio Bird Deterrents, they produce ultrasonic sounds that annoy birds. Ideal for walled-off or enclosed areas like sheds, parking garages, and overhangs, these audio devices will scare most birds away–birds like pigeons, sparrows, starlings or seagulls.

There’s also a category of products that use chemicals to scare birds away. Known variously as Foggers or Misters, these bird deterrents utilize an aerosol delivery system to disperse a food-grade, non-lethal aerosol of methyl anthranilate. Approved by the EPA, this chemical irritates pest birds and deters them as they fly through it. Ideal for large areas, many systems feature multiple remote spray units that can cover areas up to one square mile. These environmentally friendly systems won’t harm birds and won’t affect electrical equipment.

Finally, there’s the family of motorized products that work quite effectively to discourage pest birds from landing. These bird repellers utilize rotating arms to scare birds away. Ideal for parapet walls, roofs, signs, billboards, or any flat surface, some are battery powered, others use a plug-in power source. And some are even solar powered.