Not all birds are as welcome in our homes as Big Bird and Woodstock are. Sometimes, they can be cute, but other times, they become pests.
What kinds of birds are pestering you? That’s important to know because what may get rid of one species will have no effect on another. So, let’s look at some common pest birds:
- The debris of feral pigeons, the number one bird pest, collects and damages roofs, gutters, drain spouts, and rooftop air conditioning equipment. Their feces is not only highly unsightly and corrosive, it also represents a health risk because of all the fungi and parasites that live in it. You can place netting or build physical barriers to keep them away, but be prepared for a battle. They like to stay in whatever place they were born, they will eat just about anything they find, they know where to find water, and you can’t trap and relocate them; remember, these things are descended from homing pigeons. (See our article on how to get rid of pigeons)
- Starlings and sparrows create most of the same problems as pigeons except that they have one more unpleasant trait: they drive native birds to extinction. These two types of intruders can be trapped and successfully relocated. They are so numerous; however, that as soon as you got rid of one group, they would quickly be replaced by others. Starlings are spooked by loud noises, and both types of birds may be discouraged by using mild electrical shock systems. When removing these birds, their nests should be destroyed.
- Gulls can create the same problems as pigeons; however, these problems are mostly confined to coastal areas. As many airports tend to be located near bodies of water, gulls also represent a threat to air navigation. They may be discouraged through netting, electrical shock, noisemakers, or simulated predators.
- Canada geese used to be seen as pests by farmers during their migrations north and south, the geese eating and trampling crops. They are a much worse threat to air safety than seagulls, but with the change in climate, many geese are now taking up permanent residence in suburban areas. Their droppings are copious and foul (to use a bad pun), and these birds can become aggressive toward humans and pets during mating season. With a prodigious rate of reproduction, few natural enemies, and no danger of being blown out of the sky by hunters (they don’t migrate any more, remember?), they are fast becoming suburban blights. Fencing and audio and visual scare systems are effective, but other exclusion measures should also be used (Tips on how to build a wooden fence). Deny them access to ponds and make grassy areas less tasty.
- Woodpeckers.Protective coatings on your frame designed to leave a bad taste in a woodpecker’s mouth should keep them from punching holes in your siding and awakening you at dawn with that infernal tapping.
- You’ll need a heavy duty electrical system to discourage turkey vultures from using your roof as a roost, a place where they can do a lot of damage. Their super-sized droppings are nothing to write home about, either. Fogging is frequently effective.
- Grackles and blackbirds do pretty much everything starlings do, including making a loud racket. Drive them off with noisemakers, visual fright devices, electric shock, or irritant fogs.
- If you want to get swallows to stop nesting on your house, you are going to have to wait until they migrate south in winter and remove their nests. They are a protected species, and it’s illegal to disturb nests while there are eggs in them. After removing the nests, cover the area with mesh to prevent the parents from rebuilding the following year – swallows usually return to the same nesting area each year.
Bird Removal and Exclusion Tools
Let’s take a closer look at some of these methods we’ve talked about – and some we haven’t.
- Bird Netting: Mesh made of polyethylene twine strung on steel cables blocks birds’ access to places where you don’t want them. Stringing it up is not your do-it-yourself weekend project.
- Electrified Tracks: Stretched across areas where birds perch, such as roofs and ledges, the birds get a mild hotfoot when they land on it – not enough to hurt them, but enough to make them stay away. The system may be energized by battery pack, solar energy, or house power.
- Bird Spikes: These are like the tack strips police use to stop speeding automobiles, except these spikes make it impossible for birds to perch on a parapet lined with them. Coil systems and wire systems operate on a similar principle, presenting an unusable surface birds will not want to perch on. None of them are injurious.
- A product called BirdSlide puts an angled surface over L-shaped ledges such as roof overhangs, preventing birds from roosting.
- Another product, Daddi Longlegs, looks like a mobile sculpture, with long rods projecting from a central point. The whole thing rotates in the breeze, keeping larger birds from befouling street lights or rooftop air conditioning units, among other things.
- Rain gutter covers/spikes
- Traps: Trapping, where legal, must be only one step in a deterrent program, as new birds will invariably fill the places left by the removed birds.
- Squawkers: Audio devices that play electronic versions of species-specific distress calls or predator calls to scare the pests away.
- Balloons and Windsocks: Balloons with big eyes painted on them, fake spiders, and Mylar light reflecting streamers can all be used to frighten woodpeckers.
- Flavor deterrents include a substance that can be sprayed on siding or added to paint and stain to keep woodpeckers at bay. There is also a substance that, when sprayed on grass, will give it a flavor that Canada geese will not like.
Click here for more information about how to get rid of birds