How to Scare Away Birds

You may want to protect your crops or other animals from wild birds. Here are the best techniques to scare away birds without anyone getting hurt.
How to Scare Away Birds

Last update: 29 April, 2021

Although their presence is always a joy to the eyes and ears, birds can pose a danger to people – or to themselves – when it comes to areas inhabited by humans. Do you want to know how to scare away birds without affecting the ecosystem?

For example, you may need to protect your birds from raptors or from plants that are toxic to them. For these and many other cases, the techniques that we’ll offer you are effective —and often low cost.

How to scare away birds from open spaces

Places such as crops, gardens or open spaces where prey can be hunted by predators – such as raptors – require barriers or deterrents. These are some of the most effective:

  • Traditional scarecrows: They’re effective, but you have to change some of their elements from time to time so that they don’t lose their functionality. You can change their clothes, move them around, or add accessories, such as tools.
  • Olfactory repellent for birds: Usually sold in the form of small bags or gel discs. They’re also used for windows and roofs. However, be sure to buy one that doesn’t contain any toxic substances for birds.
  • Physical barriers: Nets are very effective to protect delimited areas, such as orchards. However, they must be made of suitable materials, which won’t trap the birds. Above all, if you use one, make sure you don’t cover any openings, in order to prevent the birds from getting trapped in.
  • Putting branches on the crops: When the first shoots of the crops appear, some birds come to eat them. You can make a branch arrangement on them, which forces the birds to perch on them while preventing them from reaching the buds.

In some places, they choose to release natural predators to control certain species, such as pigeons and hawks. However, this requires constant monitoring to maintain balance in the ecosystem, which is why it’s a fairly controversial method.

Scaring away birds doesn't have to be difficult.

Keep birds away from windows, ledges, and roofs

Screens are still a good solution for patios or holes in buildings where you don’t want pigeons and other birds to nest or perch. Even so, remember that you must be especially careful not to trap or confine any animal.

In the case of roofs and windows, the most common strategies are usually to place figures of predators, such as the scarecrow owl. These forms that simulate predatory birds prevent other species from approaching, such as pigeons, sparrows or parrots.

Very often, placing these figures also prevents many birds from making nests in your window. Although it’s beautiful to behold, it’s not a safe place for them: the nest can fall and your presence is a source of stress for parents and young.

Other effective devices are ultrasound repellents. These create frequencies inaudible to humans that keep birds away from buildings and other spaces. However, be aware of other species, such as dogs or rats, that may be affected by ultrasound – you may want to keep them away from the source of the sound.

For this reason, many people have opted for other repellents that, instead of emitting frequencies, reproduce sounds of predators. These sounds, to avoid habituation, can be alternated with calls of stress or danger from the bird species that roam the space.

Be careful, however, with the method of hanging a reflective disc on windows and terraces. Although cheap and effective, it has recently been observed that reflections can blind birds in mid-flight, leading to accidents.

Some birds bathing in a fountain.

Driving away birds doesn’t have to end badly

Although it isn’t immediately obvious, in urban environments there’s also a balance between species that must be maintained in order to avoid imbalances, such as the rise of pests or the transmission of diseases. Also, when it comes to protecting other animals – such as a sanctuary – physical barriers are always better.

The ethical discussion about how to scare away birds has been a hot topic for a few years now. Techniques that keep them away instead of killing them have been shown to be just as effective and less dangerous for everyone, human and non-human alike. In the end, the most important thing is to live in peace with the species that surround us and find a good balance.

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  • “A Comparison of Some Broadcasting Equipments and Recorded Distress Calls for Scaring Birds” – J.-C. Bremond, Ph. Gramet y otros – The Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Dec., 1968), pp. 521-529
  • The Open Sanctuary Project, Inc. (2020, 20 octubre). Building A Good Home For Chickens. The Open Sanctuary Project.