Dealing with Pesky Birds

 

Often entertaining to watch, and presenting the spectrum of color in their plumage, birds are beautiful as well as an important part of our ecosystem. However, when birds converge and overwhelm your environment, they can pose health and safety issues to humans with their feces, which destroy roofs and gutters, and by stripping gardens and crops of foodstuffs.

The most destructive birds are pigeons, sparrows, starlings, gulls, Canada geese, woodpeckers, crows, and grackles. Because of the corrosive properties of bird fecal matter, it damages rooftop air conditioning units, gutters, roofs, downspouts, and roof shingles. Parasites and fungi live in fecal matter, further presenting health risks to humans. Nesting birds sometimes build nests in the gutters and downspouts of your home, blocking water flow and ultimately resulting in roof damage. If you find that you have a problem with birds as pests, follow these guidelines to help rid them from your home and landscape:

  • As a deterrent to roosting and nesting, you can install barriers. Some barriers include rain gutter covers with spikes, mesh netting, spike strips, and electrified tracks. While the spikes and electrified tracks will not cause harm to birds, it will make roosting unpleasant. Netting, while effectively stopping birds form nesting, will not stop them from roosting, and can be quite expensive.
  • Noisemakers are quite effective in scaring birds away, as long as you continually vary the pitch or change the noise. Birds are intelligent and will grow accustomed to the same noises or pitches, making your equipment lose its scare factor quickly. Some noise makers play predator or distress calls, scaring birds away, while others simply make a clattering or clashing sound. One such bird scare is the simple, but effective, aluminum pie plate scare. String up several pie plates, allow them to dangle in the breeze and clatter, and birds won't stick around.
  • Traps are not effective if you have a large population of different kinds of birds. Besides being illegal in some parts of the world, trapping birds can be expensive and tedious.
  • Visual scares, such as the aluminum pie plate mentioned above, might frighten away some bird species. Some visual scares include windsocks, wind chimes, large balloons with painted eyes, streamers, large spiders, and fake owls.

Some homeowners have had luck with flavor deterrents in discouraging woodpeckers from damaging wood, as well as stopping Canada geese from disturbing grass. Whatever method you decide to employ in dealing with birds as pests, make sure that the bird in question is not a protected species. It may be illegal to remove nests of endangered species, or otherwise disturb them. Check with your local cooperative extension office for help or if you have questions.

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