I personally find great joy in birds, I really do…and make my own bird feeders and place them at my balcony to lure them over just so that I can take a good look at them every day. However, not everyone shares this affinity for birds, and that is quite understandable.
Birds can also be pests, whether it is from the annoying noise they make, or from the unsightly nests they build on the property…or the mess they leave behind, usually from food – pre-processed or post-processed! Dealing with bird faeces is a chore, especially when left behind by an uninvited guest.
If you find yourself in such a situation, then today’s topic on how to get rid of pest birds is for you.
Before we delve into the methods, let’s start by identifying some of the more common bird species that make up this group of avian pests.
Common Pest Bird Species
Here are a few examples of common pest birds listed in order of increasing size.
1. House Sparrow
The first in our list is the common house sparrow. Many are familiar with this bird, as they are often seen pecking on the ground in search of food. Even if they make the sweetest chirp, some may find their presence annoying.
2. Asian Glossy Starling
The Asian Glossy Starling seems to be more frequently seen in recent years, and some will find the noises they make a bit piercing and distracting. They move in large flocks and are one of the noisiest species of birds. Starlings rank behind pigeons and sparrows as urban pest birds, and are considered a nuisance due to their nesting, eating and living habits.
3. Common Mynah
Mynahs are birds of the starling family, and were declared as an invasive species in 2000 by the IUCNThe International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education. Species Survival Commission as their range was increasing at a very rapid rate. The species posed a serious threat to the ecosystems of Australia where it was designated “The Most Important Pest/Problem”.
Dove is a broad term for the bird species with short necks and stout bodies. The species most commonly referred to as “pigeon” is the species known by scientists as the Rock Dove, one subspecies of which, the domestic pigeon, is the Feral Pigeon mentioned below.
5. Feral Pigeon
Feral Pigeons (Columba livia domestica) are popularly found in cities and parks, especially on building ledges, roof edges and overhanging cables, and are often seen moving around together in large numbers. They are known to cause damage to agricultural crop and properties, as well as create large amounts of excrement in public spaces and carry disease. As a result, they are generally considered a nuisance and municipal councils have taken steps to control their population.
Seagulls are regarded as pest birds due to the noise they make, as well as the damage to property and infrastructure that they cause. Seagulls build nests in colonies, and if left unchecked and uncontrolled, the colonies grow quite quickly. Such nests are sometimes found blocking gutters and duct openings. Due to their large colony, the mess they leave behind from droppings is also a problem.
Magpies flock and form territorial groups where they collectively defend their territory by using aggression, especially during the breeding season. They would swoop down and attack people, especially children who appear to pose less threat to them. This aggressive territorial behaviour makes magpies a pest bird. Magpies have also been known to attack livestock, so a control measure may be necessary.
Crows are very intelligent birds but many find them annoying because of their loud noise especially when in a flock. Like the Feral Pigeon, they create a mess when scouring for food wastes in rubbish bins, and the excrement they leave behind can spread disease. They are also considered pests because of the damage done to agricultural crops and properties.
If the bird you’re trying to get rid of is not listed above, it is likely that one or more of the methods below would work.
The methods explained below here are some of the more general methods that are effective in deterring birds. This is done by understanding their natural inclinations, and then using that to discourage them from being present or causing an annoyance.
8 Ways of Getting Rid of Birds Humanely
There are less humane ways of getting rid of pest birds, such as shooting and poisoning them. These methods are usually within the responsibilities of council authorities, or outside of the jurisdiction of normal civilians. Poisoning method may be used to anaesthetise the birds so that they may be collected and killed in a humane manner. However, in today’s article, we will be discussing ways in which we can deter birds and keep them away instead of killing them.
N.B. Note that in the U.S., local legislations regulate the hunting, trapping or killing of crows, and that these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty ActThe Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts (including the feathers), nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid Federal permit. , which is enforced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Here are a few common ways on how to get rid of birds without directly harming them. Note that the methods below can be applied at both the home and office areas:
1Clear Rubbish Bins and Trash
Clearing rubbish bins, trash and garbage should be the first thing that needs to be done. Without food morsel and leftovers strewn about, pest birds would not be encouraged to visit and gather at the area. By removing their source of food, pest birds and their flock would likely take off to gather somewhere else.
Close rubbish bin lids securely, but do keep in mind that even when bin lids are kept properly closed, they may still be opened by larger animals such as dogs, cats and racoons, and you may have to find ways to keep them tamper-proof.
2Remove Nests and Nesting Areas
If a bird or its flock have built nests in your area, you could remove their place of stay and breeding area. They may build another nest nearby, but it is hoped that they will take it elsewhere.
If a nest has not been built, then remove any feature which could be a potential for a bird nesting site. These include dried and dead branches, branch forks and small openings on the exterior of your home, which is covered next.
3Birdproof Your Facility
If you keep livestock, have an enclosed area for chicks and other younglings that is protected by wire mesh to keep pests and predatory birds out.
Small openings in any architectural feature of the home and building such as decommissioned chimneys, dry shielded gutters, air vents, air intake and flue duct openings, and gaps in roof sidings and eaves should be wire meshed up or sealed permanently to limit any potential areas for a bird nesting site.
N.B. Before repairing or sealing any holes and gaps permanently, please check to ensure that the area is not currently inhabited by birds or any other animals.
4Use Reflective Objects
Birds like crows, magpies and mynahs are disturbed by reflective objects moving about in the wind. Hang a few old CDs outside your home where sunlight may reflect off them to scare these birds away.
You could also hang inflatable scare balloons which are specifically designed in bright colours with life-like reflective predator eyes to scare pest birds away. See links at the end of this article to purchase or find out more about this product.
5Use a Scarecrow or Equivalent
Another visual way to deter pest birds is to place a scarecrow in the vicinity. The more anthropoidresembling a human being in form you can make it look or find one, the more effective it will be. This will work with crows and a few other large birds. For smaller birds (and even crows), you may use a statue of an animal of prey, such as that of a hawk, eagle or owl. These real birds attack and prey on most of the birds listed above, and is one method to get rid of pest birds.
Placing a scarecrow or a statue of an animal of prey in a central visible location isn’t exactly what most people have in mind when it comes to elegance and beauty – it may be functional, but nowhere near aesthetically pleasing. In some cases, pest birds which repeatedly visit the site catch on after a while that the non-moving objects pose no threat to them. In such an instance, the next suggestion could be better.
6Use Sounds of Birds of Prey
Birds are very sensitive to sights and sounds, and rely on both these senses to communicate with their flock as well as for survival. Wire a set of speakers outdoors and play sounds of birds of prey to frighten pest birds away. You may also use a Bluetooth speaker that connects wirelessly to your smartphone or computer, and run an audio file of sounds made by birds of prey.
Such a sound may be obtained by this video on YouTube and one user has commented on its effectiveness:
Alternatively, you may also download the audio file here and play it on repeat on your device.
7Use Bird Spikes
Bird spikes may be placed along high-level areas such as roofs, ledges, signage and window sills where pest birds like crows, pigeons and seagulls tend to gather and create a mess.
Bird spikes do not harm birds, but make it difficult for them to land and roost at where these spikes are installed. They are best installed at areas where people and visitors do not normally access. Installation of bird spikes is quite simple and can be viewed in the video above by Bird B Gone:
8Use Bird Gel
Bird gel is a transparent sticky compound that birds find uncomfortable and deters them from landing and roosting on horizontal surfaces such as beams, ledges, signage, ducts, pipes and conduits where this compound is applied.
Bird gel usually lasts for about 6 months before needing to be reapplied, and is spread onto the surface by using a standard caulking gun. Note that in some localities, there are laws that state that this product should not be used around protected bird species.
Seeking Professional Help to Get Rid of Pest Birds
If you do not wish to undertake the job of getting rid of pest birds yourself, or if the task appears to be bigger than you can handle, you can always engage professionals such as Rentokil (UK) to handle the problem for you. Just do a Google search for “bird control” for the nearest professional pest bird controllers at your locality.
Cleaning Up After the Birds
Birds in large flocks that gather around in one area usually create a mess when they leave their droppings behind. When the faeces are dried up, it becomes a conducive environment for the growth of fungus that can cause respiratory problems that could result in death in worst case scenarios.
While faecal matter at areas exposed to weather will gradually be washed away by rain, steps should be taken to clear off bird droppings where they are left to fester, especially at living and working quarters, and at duct intakes where such a disease could be distributed throughout interior building spaces via air pathways. Bird droppings also create an unsightly mess which could turn away customers and affect businesses.
If these are examples of the problems you face, you may use any of the methods above to get rid of pest birds. Use the method which works best in your given situation, and if one doesn’t work, try another.
And, if you have a method which you have tried and found to be successful, do share with us in the comment section below.