6 Ways To Stop Birds From Nesting Around Your Home

It's troublesome and possibly illegal to remove bird nests from your home. It's a better strategy to prevent birds from nesting in the first place.

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The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 2020, a revision of the 1918 Act, protects a long list of common birds and makes it illegal to disturb their nests. Some of these birds, such as falcons, hawks and pelicans, would never make a nest in your home. But many others are only too happy to perch in your eaves to raise their young.

Some of the most common protected bird species — and culprits — are pigeons, doves, woodpeckers, swifts, warblers and even crows.

It would be better for everyone if these birds nested in a tree or outbuilding like a barn or shed. Unfortunately, many homes with partially rotted soffits and trim provide easy access to cozy nesting spots; they’re simply too inviting. The resulting increase in bird droppings is unsightly and unsanitary, and the noise can be distracting.

Bird nest building can happen in spring, summer or fall, depending on the species. Evicting a mother and her chicks could not only be illegal, but inhumane if you don’t relocate them properly. It’s a much better strategy to prevent birds from nesting in the first place. And never try to get rid of birds with poisons.

The good news is that there are many ways to encourage birds to build their nests somewhere other than around your home. Here are six ways to stop birds from nesting for you to conisder:

Deploy Bird Roosting Spikes

If you have flat ledges on your home’s exterior, you’re probably already dealing with pigeons. They love ledges because they can perch there without worrying about what’s behind them. If they perch there habitually, they’re bound to nest.

The counter: Install roosting spikes, a series of crisscrossed metal spikes attached to a metal base. They’re sold in kits that assemble to 10- to 100-foot lengths, and you install them with a staple gun. Don’t worry — they don’t hurt the birds. They just make it impossible for them to land on your flat ledges, and therefore stop the birds from nesting.

You can also use bird repellent gel to keep them away.

Keep Birds Away With Foul Odors

Plenty of scents agreeable to humans are obnoxious to birds. Two of these, interestingly enough, are lemon and peppermint. If you want to stop birds from nesting on your porch (on top of the light is a favorite spot), keep them away by making a repellent and spraying it regularly.

Wild Wild World suggests the following recipe: Mix seven drops of lemon oil and seven drops of peppermint oil in a solution with 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup water. You can soak cotton balls with the solution and deploy them where you need them, or put the solution in a sprayer.

Clean Up Your Yard

Pruning back dense growth in your shrubs and trees deprives birds of nesting spots, but could make your house even more attractive as an alternative nesting area. On the other hand, the less cover your property provides, the less likely it is that birds will be attracted in the first place. Pruning is also good for your foliage, so it’s worth a try.

While you’re working in the yard, pick up loose twigs, dried leaves and other debris that birds can use to make their nests. Keep your trash securely covered, too, because birds can weave paper and many fibrous household waste items into nests.

Hang Shiny Objects That Catch the Wind

Some people are distracted by shiny, moving objects, but they repel birds. Deploying old CDs, strips of aluminum foil or strings of shiny beads is a time-tested way to keep birds out the garden, and it can keep birds away from the house, too.

Shiny objects work best if you hang them in areas that get a lot of sun and wind. It’s the movement, as well as the reflectivity, that alerts birds to possible danger and keeps them away. Wind chimes can be even more effective, because they add an audible element that acts as a further deterrent.

Don’t Feed the Birds

It goes without saying that, if you want birds to stay away, don’t offer anything that attracts them. If you like watching birds feeding in your yard but don’t want them to nest, be sure to station bird feeders well away from the house.

Birds are scavengers, which is another reason to keep your trash well covered and stored away from the house. If you feed your pets outside, stop; feed them indoors instead. Jays and crows, in particular, love to chow down on pet food, and they’re both protected species.

Install Motion-Activated Lights and Sprinklers

Motion-activated lights can deter birds active at night, and motion-activated sprinklers scare them off day or night. The element of surprise is the key.

Chris Deziel
Chris Deziel has been active in the building trades for more than 30 years. He helped build a small city in the Oregon desert from the ground up and helped establish two landscaping companies. He has worked as a carpenter, plumber and furniture refinisher. Deziel has been writing DIY articles since 2010 and has worked as an online consultant, most recently with Home Depot's Pro Referral service. His work has been published on Landlordology, Apartments.com and Hunker. Deziel has also published science content and is an avid musician.