How to Keep Birds Away

By Amanda Lutz Updated July 8, 2024

Seeing a few colorful sparrows or woodpeckers flitting through your yard or around a bird feeder can be charming, but there’s a darker side to having an outdoor space that attracts birds. Too many birds can be a nuisance because they might leave droppings on your patio and around your windows and roost in areas where they shouldn’t nest.

If you want to scare birds away from your property without harming them, our guide can help. We’ll cover some of the common problems caused by pest birds and how you can safely and legally use bird control methods to keep them away from your home and yard.

Common Nuisance Birds

Almost every type of bird can be a pest, but a few bird species stand out. Here are a few of the most common nuisance birds and what kind of damage they can do to your home and property:

If you’re planning on using bird repellent in your yard, it’s important to understand what kinds of birds your property attracts. Certain kinds of repellent tend to be more effective with specific species.

Bird Deterrent Methods

Whether you have a garden and want to keep birds away from your plants and flowers, or you just want to repel birds and prevent them from taking over your lawn, knowing the basics of bird deterrents can be helpful. There are four primary types of bird deterrents: visual deterrents, auditory deterrents, bird repellents, and physical barriers. Here’s what to know about all four methods and how to choose the best one for your home.

Visual Deterrents

In general, visual deterrents for birds are the easiest for most homeowners to use. Visual deterrents are accessible and affordable, and most of them work by mimicking predator species. They tend to work best with smaller bird species. Predator decoys, which are designed to look like hawks or owls, are the most simple to use. You can place them at any high point in your yard, such as on bird feeders or on the top of a fence post.

Reflective tape, also known as bird tape, is designed to keep birds from landing on a specific surface. It features an ultraviolet coating that disorients birds. Many homeowners place reflective tape on trees or walls where birds gather. Motion-activated sprinklers are another popular visual deterrent. These sprinklers activate when they detect movement nearby, scaring birds away and preventing them from landing there.

While any of these visual deterrents can be highly effective and easy to set up on your own, they might not work with larger bird species, such as seagulls, without the help of a professional pest control company.

Auditory Deterrents

Auditory deterrents are another type of bird control that can be used to address your bird problem. Recorded distress calls are an easy option that you can match to the species type you’re dealing with in your garden or around your landscaping. You can automate these calls to play on a loop, every few hours, or from your phone.

Ultrasonic devices are also a humane solution. They emit high-frequency sounds that are unpleasant for birds but completely inaudible to humans. Ultrasonic devices are generally quite effective at keeping nuisance birds away. However, ultrasonic and other auditory devices can also keep away desired bird species. 

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers tend to be the hardest for homeowners to install, but they can be a solid solution for those dealing with a large convergence of pest birds. Physical barriers include bird netting, spikes, and wire coils. They all work by preventing birds from landing, roosting, or nesting in specific areas, such as water sources, gutters, birdbaths, and ledges.

You may be able to install physical barriers as a DIY project, depending on the extent of the area that you need to cover and the project’s complexity. Wire coils, for instance, can be tricky for some homeowners to install on their own. Don’t hesitate to call a pest control professional if you don’t feel up to the task. 

You have to maintain physical barriers just like any other landscaping element and replace them if they sustain damage. Physical barriers to keep birds out can also cause your home’s curb appeal and aesthetics to take a hit. 

Bird Repellents

Traditional bird repellents—including gels, granules, and sprays—deter birds through either smell, taste, or touch. Sticky gels prevent birds from nesting, while some sprays are scented with essential oils that are unpleasant to birds. 

Depending on the type of repellent, you might need to reapply it frequently. These types of repellents can also cause environmental and aesthetic concerns. If you want to try out a bird repellent, read the application instructions and follow the guidelines exactly. Always wear safety gloves when applying bird repellent, and keep pets and children away from the product.

Removing Bird Nests

Removing a bird’s nest from your property can be tricky. Depending on your location, there could be laws in place that prevent tampering with or removing a bird’s nest. In some states, it’s illegal to tamper with a bird’s nest, even if it’s in your own yard.

If you notice a nest around your home, first investigate whether you’re allowed to move it. You should also check that the nest isn’t already home to a mother bird and her eggs. If the nest is empty, and if the laws clear you to do so, quickly and carefully move the nest to an area that’s nearby but out of danger. If the nest seems abandoned, you can also discard the nest in your trash pile or compost heap, wrapping it in a trash bag before you do so. Wear safety gloves while you move the nest and sanitize the area thoroughly afterward.

If the bird’s nest is in a hard-to-reach area or if you feel uncomfortable moving the nest on your own, don’t hesitate to bring in professional assistance. Many pest control companies will remove nests for free or at a very low cost.

Creating an Unwelcoming Environment

Prevention is the best cure for any bird problem. You can make your property less attractive to nuisance birds by following the tips below:

Implementing these action items and working year-round to keep a clean home will reduce the likelihood of dealing with flocks of pest birds.

Our Recommendation

Bird deterrence requires a multifaceted, humane approach. If you find yourself having a bird problem, research the types of birds roosting in your yard. Knowing what species you’re dealing with will help you be better prepared to choose the most effective kind of deterrent. Remember, always be safe when dealing with nuisance birds and bring in help when you need it.

How to Keep Birds Away FAQ

What smells do birds hate?

Certain kinds of birds are deterred by some smells, including garlic, peppermint oil, vinegar, and cinnamon. Before you use any of these scents to deter birds, figure out if the bird species in your yard is attracted to or repulsed by the scent.

How do I get rid of birds on my porch?

There are a lot of ways to get rid of birds on your porch. You can use reflective tape, owl decoys, or auditory deterrents like distress calls. Select the deterrent type that makes the most sense for the bird types you want to repel.

What home remedy keeps birds away?

Many homeowners have success with a spray deterrent made of essential oils. Birds typically don’t like essential oils such as peppermint or eucalyptus.

Do wind chimes keep birds away?

Wind chimes keep some birds away from your home or patio. Many wind chimes are reflective, which repels birds.

How do I keep birds from pooping on my car?

The best way to keep birds from pooping on your car is to invest in a car cover or park in a garage. Bird poop is acidic, so remove it as quickly as you can to prevent damage to your car’s paint.