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The sight of birds in your yard may be charming at first, but bird nests and droppings can disrupt your daily life as a homeowner. Below, we’ll explore the potential causes and risks of a bird infestation and outline tips for how to get rid of birds safely and humanely.
Causes of Birds In and around Your Home
Birds often invade human spaces in search of food, water, or shelter, and while most remain outside, some may find their way into your home.
House sparrows, starlings, and other small birds are the likeliest birds to break into your interior space through gaps in eaves and soffits, damaged or improperly sealed vents, and unscreened chimneys. It’s less common for larger birds, such as seagulls and pigeons, to enter your home, but they can occasionally fly in through an open window or door.
Some of the most noticeable signs of a bird infestation are bird droppings, which will accumulate near roosting or nesting sites, errant feathers, or discarded nesting materials, such as twigs and straw. If birds have gotten inside, you will likely hear chirping, cooing, or squawking sounds in the morning.
Bird feathers, dander, and droppings can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Wild birds may spread infections or diseases directly or indirectly to humans. These include the following:
- Avian influenza
- E. coli
- Tick-borne diseases
- West Nile virus
You can read more about the symptoms and spread of each disease on the CDC website.
Birds of all sizes can also cause property damage. Bird droppings are often acidic enough to corrode metal surfaces, paint, and roofing materials, and bird nests can block gutters and create fire hazards. Outside, woodpeckers can damage trees and wooden structures.
Bird Control Methods
Before planning your bird control strategy, identify the bird species you are dealing with and get a sense of their roles in your local ecosystem. Familiarize yourself with federally protected species, state law, and local regulations regarding birds.
Once you’ve done your homework, review the following options for dealing with a bird problem.
Bird repellents fall into three categories: visual, auditory, and chemical.
- Auditory repellents: Certain sounds can deter birds from collecting near your home. You can find commercial products that mimic distress calls or predator sounds and devices that emit high-frequency sounds. One easy DIY option to keep birds away is to hang wind chimes, which double as a visual deterrent.
- Chemical repellents: Nontoxic sprays and gels are available at your local hardware store or on Amazon. You can make your own spray using crushed red or green chili peppers, water, and vinegar.
- Visual deterrents: These devices use light and movement to create an illusion of danger. Shiny objects, such as old CDs and aluminum foil, work well.
Follow the steps below to apply bird repellents safely and effectively.
- Identify problem areas. Identify spots where birds frequently congregate or nest.
- Choose the appropriate repellent. Select the type of repellent that best suits your needs and is safe for the types of birds in your area.
- Install or apply the repellent in target areas. Read and follow the instructions provided with the product.
- Regularly inspect and maintain. Some repellents may require reapplication after rain or at specified intervals.
Three of the most common bird deterrents are physical barriers, decoys, and habitat modification.
- Decoys: Decoys of predators such as snakes or owls and other intimidating objects can dissuade birds from approaching an area. You can find hanging decoys with reflective eyes that resemble birds’ natural predators.
- Habitat modification: Removing food sources, trimming trees, and eliminating water sources can make your property less appealing to birds. You can place bird feeders and birdhouses strategically to lure birds away from problem areas.
- Physical barriers: Installing bird spikes will prevent birds from landing or nesting on ledges, rooftops, and other surfaces. Nets, screens, and wire systems can keep birds away from a specific plant or area.
Follow these steps to implement bird deterrents safely and effectively.
- Assess the property. Identify the areas where deterrents will be most effective. Implement habitat modifications as a first line of defense.
- Install physical barriers. Securely attach bird spikes, nets, or other physical barriers to prevent birds from landing or nesting in undesirable areas.
- Strategically place decoys. Position decoys in visible areas, and rotate them periodically to maintain their effectiveness.
- Regularly inspect and maintain. Inspect the physical barriers and decoys regularly.
If a single bird has flown into your house, clear the room of any pets, open the largest window, and close the doors to other rooms. Close the blinds or curtains covering any other windows and turn off the lights. The bird should naturally fly toward the light of the open exit.
For more complex situations, consider working with a professional pest control company. Companies such as Orkin and Terminix offer commercial bird removal services and may be able to assist with residential bird problems, too. Your local animal control may also be able to help.
Bird Prevention Methods
You can take a few proactive measures to make your property less attractive to birds and reduce the chances of an infestation.
- Remove food and water sources. Clear the areas in question of bird feeders and water features, store pet food indoors, and secure garbage can lids tightly. If you have berry bushes or fruit trees, cover them with netting.
- Trim trees and shrubs. Reduce potential nesting spots by pruning trees, shrubs, and other vegetation regularly. Trim overhanging branches to discourage birds from nesting on your roof.
- Install physical barriers or deterrents. Use bird spikes, bird netting, reflective tape, wind chimes, motion-activated sprinklers, and other deterrents.
- Block entry points. Seal any openings that birds might use to enter your home, such as small gaps and cracks, with caulk or metal mesh. Make sure the window, vent, and chimney screens are in good condition.
- Clean gutters regularly. Clean your gutters regularly and consider installing gutter guards or screens to discourage nesting.
- Keep your yard tidy. Keep your property clean and free from standing water and debris that birds can use for nesting.
If you decide to use any commercial products, such as chemical bird repellents or bird spikes, then read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Birds play critical roles in our ecosystem, and it’s important to choose humane solutions that won’t harm them or other animals.
Birds can be difficult to expel from your living area, but now you know how to get rid of them. All that’s left is to identify the type of bird you’re dealing with and decide which solutions will work best for you.
To learn more about North American bird species, consult the American Bird Conservancy, the National Audubon Society, or the National Wildlife Federation. Your local government or state wildlife agency should be able to provide information about regulations that might impact your bird control efforts.
How to Get Rid of Birds FAQ
What will keep birds away from my porch?
To keep birds away from your porch, you can hang wind chimes and strategically place bird spikes, decoys, and netting. You should also move bird feeders and bird baths away from the porch.
How do you get rid of birds from your chimney?
Follow these steps to get rid of birds that have nested in your chimney:Identify the species and whether it is legally protected.Try to scare the bird out with loud noises or bright lights.Wait for the bird to leave.Block the chimney opening with sturdy mesh or netting.Schedule a cleaning and inspection.Install a chimney cap.
How can I keep birds from roosting on my roof?
Bird spikes and visual deterrents, such as owl decoys or reflective objects, can dissuade birds from roosting on your roof. You should also trim back overhanging branches and keep your roof free from debris.
What smells do birds hate?
Birds hate the smell of methyl anthranilate, a natural substance found in Concord grapes, grape Kool-Aid, and many bird-repellent sprays and gels. They also dislike the smell of vinegar, chili pepper, peppermint, and garlic.
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