How to Keep Birds from Becoming Pests

Deter nuisance birds safely with reflectors, sounds and other things that spook them and prevent window collisions.

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They serenade us in the morning, offer a bright spot of beauty outside the kitchen window and often thanklessly control the population of bugs and critters that bite, buzz and squirm. Did we mention they also pollinate flowers?

Despite all of their best qualities, many homeowners have their share of tales about that bird. Perhaps it was the blue jay who terrorized the mail carrier and anyone else daring to approach the front door near a nest. Maybe it was the woodpecker who had a taste for your wood siding. It could even be the robin who perched near your car mirror or living room window and fought his reflection (mistaking it for a rival), leaving a mess of ruffled feathers and bird poop.

Here are some options for you if backyard birds become pests.

Hinder Bird Hangouts

To stop birds from nesting in your roof nooks or overhands, try bird-eviction caulk such as Bird-X gel, which birds avoid because they don’t like to step on it. (Imagine a human’s aversion to stepping in wet tar.) You can also staple up netting to cover the coveted roosting spot.

Install Reflectors

Putting up Mylar reflector tape can discourage birds from nesting near doors and porches by catching the light, twisting or blowing in the wind to spook potential nesters. Reflector tape also works on windows and can help keep birds from the garden. This is the best and most affordable bird deterrent. Alternatives include installing wind chimes, hanging decorative flags where they’ll catch the breeze, or hanging old CDs or aluminum pie plates that are shiny and catch the light.

Deter Woodpeckers

Reflectors, flags and wind chimes can also deter woodpeckers, who are especially drawn to wood siding for insect foraging. Sometime chickadees and nuthatches also peck at siding, often looking for seeds they stashed before winter, like squirrels stockpiling acorns. Keep holes and cracks caulked or repaired to give birds and insects fewer opportunities. You can also lure woodpeckers away from the house with other food sources, such as suet or berry bushes.

If woodpeckers are pounding against hard surfaces such as man-made siding, gutters and anything else that makes a loud drumming noise, it’s part of mating season and their attempts to audibly claim a territory and attract a mate. Think of it as the avian version of Tinder.

Try Scare Tactics

Scarecrows were designed to keep birds from scavenging food crops. You can try this tactic on a smaller scale with plastic predator decoys such as owls, hawks, snakes or coyotes. These natural enemy deterrents can discourage birds from nesting or roosting near the house, or congregating near or above vehicles.

Be warned that decoys don’t always work long-term, because resident birds catch on to the ruse eventually. But it may be enough to get you through the early spring when birds are seeking nesting spots, or aggressive males might fight car mirror or window reflections.

Prevent Crashes

Any bird can fall prey to reflective house windows, which depending on the light may resemble sky or trees. This is especially true during spring and fall migration when more birds, exhausted by the journey, fly through unfamiliar areas. To help them spot hazardous clear glass, apply decals to windows. Some are decorative, while others use subtle patterns such as dots to prevent often-fatal window collisions.

Conceal Foods

Keep any food trash tightly covered to discourage scavengers and opportunists such as pigeons, seagulls and crows. If you put up a bird feeder, choose a design that won’t spill excess feed onto the ground, which can attract critters and birds such as wild turkeys that damage landscape plants.

Audible Deterrents

One last trick is an audible deterrent to spook not only birds but other pests. Look for models that are weatherproof and can be custom-programmed for the kind of bird (or other animal) you want to repel.