Let’s talk about birds.

On one hand, they can be beautiful, delightful creatures that make unique sounds and fascinate us with their mastery of flight. On the other hand, they can be loud, obnoxious pests that leave huge messes in their wake. It’s probably this duality that causes some people to adore birds and other people to really loathe them!

Even if you love birds, it’s still not a good idea to give them carte blanche to run amok on your property, lest they leave feces on various surfaces, raid your garden and flowerbeds, or build nests in your gutters, chimney, or attic. So when you start to notice bird-related issues in your home or on your land, it’s probably best to take action as soon as possible.
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Keep in mind that there’s really no way to “pick and choose” which birds decide to visit your home, so your efforts to drive off nuisance birds (e.g., grackles or swallows) may wind up scaring away songbirds (e.g., cardinals and mourning doves), too. That said, if you’re still inclined to get rid of the creatures, here are some tips for doing so:

Get a Chimney Cap (or Have Yours Inspected)

Yes, yes, we talk about chimney caps a lot on this blog! But if we’re being honest, they really are one of the best things you have to protect your chimney from avian intruders. When a cap is in place, birds can’t climb into your chimney or build their nests inside of it. They also can’t get stuck and die in there, which is an unpleasant situation for everyone involved. If your chimney isn’t capped, talk to a professional about having one installed.  And if your chimney is capped, have it inspected regularly for damage or wear. After all, the cap can’t protect your chimney if it’s cracked or crumbling.

Use a Decoy

For years, folks have placed statues of owls or hawks on their rooftops or lawn furniture with the intention of scaring off pest birds. The idea is that the unwanted birds will see the statue, assume that it’s a real predator, and keep their distance. Unfortunately, birds tend to be a little more intelligent than humans think they are; it often doesn’t take long for them to notice that the statue doesn’t move and therefore poses no threat. If you’ve ever seen images of crows casually sitting or lounging about on the arms of a scarecrow, you’ll understand this issue.

An alternative, then, is to use a decoy that’s a little more dynamic than a solid hunk of plastic or wood. Bird tape, for example, can be found in many home improvement stores for relatively cheap; the stuff looks like a long piece of ribbon (or a streamer) made of an iridescent/holographic material. When the tape is tied to a tree branch or other structure, it will “dance” in the wind and reflect sunlight. To a bird, this is much more irritating, mysterious, and frightening than a stationary object, and it therefore may be more effective at keeping them away. Other choices include decoys with paper wings (that, again, will “move” when caught by the wind) or solar-powered automatons that rotate their heads or bodies at regular intervals. You may not fool all of the birds all the time, but you’ll probably be able to cut back on the number of new critters who decide to come hang out.

Build a Barrier

We’re not suggesting that you put a huge net over your property, as that would be pretty impractical for most folks. But if the birds’ activities are concentrated over a specific area (e.g., a garden), you may be able to use mesh or chicken wire to block it off and keep the birds at bay. Bird spikes are another option, and despite their menacing-sounding name, they’re not designed to be deadly. Instead, these plastic or metal strips contain tightly-spaced prongs or “teeth” that point outward. When a bird (or any other wild animal, really) tries to perch or walk on the spike strip, the spikes poke their feet, making it an uncomfortable place to rest. Ideally, the birds respond by taking their business elsewhere.

Know When to Call a Professional

Unfortunately, even tenacious homeowners may have a problem dealing with a full-blown infestation, especially if a colony of birds has taken up residence in your attic or chimney. And some winged critters are stubborn enough to keep retuning to a specific area despite any and all efforts to banish them. If you can’t seem to get rid of your unwanted guests (or they’ve “set up shop” in a very hard-to-reach area), you may need to call a in a licensed, professional wildlife technician. They’ll have the technology and equipment to remove the birds humanely and safely, as well as clean up any mess that the birds left behind. A specialist will also work within the law, ensuring that your removal and deterrent efforts don’t constitute a crime.

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Birdwatching from the comfort of your home can be a fun and relaxing hobby, but it stops being fun the moment that the birds overstay their welcome! Fortunately, there are things that you can do to encourage them to leave, and if those efforts don’t yield the desired results, you can call a professional to have the birds evicted. Not every visit to your home or property by a bird warrants evasive action. But if nuisance birds are causing problems or making a mess, then they really must be made to fly the coop!

Photo courtesy of Maria Corcacas on FreeImages