Birds are often welcome visitors to the home and garden, but when they set up residence too close to occupied areas, they can be a problem. They are noisy, their droppings sometimes harbor disease and can damage structures, and their nests can be a fire hazard when they're built in vents, around electrical wires or in machinery.
Discouraging birds from nesting and gathering around homes is not easy, but several different control methods can help to reduce bird problems in a safe and humane manner.
Objects intended to scare birds away from the home or garden are the easiest do-it-yourself method for bird control, but they typically have a limited effect. Visual deterrents such as hanging pie plates, balloons, streamers or other objects that move in the wind are designed to startle birds and discourage them from congregating in the area. Replicas of owls, hawks or other predators are intended to trick birds into thinking that there's danger in the garden.
Unfortunately, birds are often not frightened by these methods, and even if they're initially scared away, they quickly realize that there's no danger and return. Be ready to move the objects or add more if they're not effective at first, and be prepared to switch to a more active control strategy if necessary.
Bird repellents are intended to discourage birds from perching or nesting around the home or other structures by making surfaces unattractive or inhospitable to them. Sticky repellents coat perching surfaces with a nondrying goo that is irritating to birds, and mechanical repellent systems made from wire, netting or metal spikes provide a physical barrier between the birds and potential perching and nesting surfaces.
These methods are often effective, but especially in the case of mechanical systems, they are relatively expensive and difficult to install.
Exclusion tactics involve physical obstacles that prevent birds from getting to the places where they like to nest. Caulking cracks in structures can prevent birds from getting inside, and netting or screens over openings in soffits, around open rafters and ceiling joists, and over vent openings will keep birds from building nests in these areas. If there are unused nests in these spaces, remove them before installing the barrier.