When a bird lands on your window sill early in the morning, all happy and chirping, it can brighten your day. But not all birds come in for a quick hello then leave. Some come to stay and make your home their home. That’s a whole different story, and it can be the beginning of a long battle with the avian invaders.
If flocks of birds settle in your house, you need to identify what type of birds you’re dealing with and how many of them are occupying your property. Then survey the place and fix any broken windows or use netting and wiring installations to make it impossible for them to roost or make nests. Make sure neither food nor water is easily available for them. Finally, decide on the best scare tactics and bird repellents to chase them away and keep them off your property for good.
Naturally what works against Canadian Geese may not work against other pesky birds such as pigeons or house sparrows. Each bird species has its own feeding and roosting habits. So how do you know which birds are making a mess of your place? How to get rid of them? And what are the best ways to make your property look the least inviting to birds?
Common Bird Species that Invade Your Home
Not all birds are made the same. Some are noisy, while others are messy. And there are those who pose a health hazard to you and your family. When you see a flock of birds in your yard or nesting in your attic, you need to identify them before you can evict them successfully. Most bird invaders fall under one of the following species.
Pigeons are the most common birds that you see in your neighborhood. Unlike Canadian Geese which migrate, pigeons have adapted well to urban as well as rural settings. They like living in cities where they find plenty of food and shelter.
The average pigeon is about 11 inches long and has gray feathers with two black stripes on its wings. They have red feet and tend to eat almost any type of food they find. Pigeons are persistent and are notoriously hard to chase away or intimidate.
But that’s not the only problem with pigeons. Besides their destructive tendencies of gardens and flowerbeds, they also have amazing homing skills. Once they find a good nesting place, they come in droves and settle in for years on end.
While house sparrows are considerably smaller than pigeons, they’re nonetheless just as aggressive and annoying. These pesky birds will keep you awake with their sharp and shrill calls and nothing, not even snowy weather, will keep it down.
While house sparrows prefer rural areas, they wouldn’t mind invading a home with a lawn or an attic. They like to destroy gardens either looking for food or simply collecting sticks to make nests. And they multiply in record numbers and at an alarming speed.
You can identify a house sparrow with its light brown or reddish-brown plumage and small body which ranges between five to six inches long. They eat grains mostly but wouldn’t mind dipping their beaks in any human or pet food left uncovered.
You might have seen the Canadian Goose in the park near you or in the fields when you go out of town. Or the long-necked bird might have come to your lawn uninvited. Canadian Geese migrate between the north and south all year round.
The first thing you’ll notice about a Canadian Goose is its honking. Sometimes that’s the first sign that alerts you that you have a problem on your hands. Lawns attract this big bird and if the weather is mild and your lawn is spacious, they might forego their migration habit altogether and stay put.
Like most honkers, they feed on seeds, nestle in the ground, and are quite territorial. This last trait can result in fierce honking fights between rival geese gangs. Their mating season is especially raucous and downright unnerving.
A very small bird, the European Starling finds protection in numbers. A flock of European Starlings can number in thousands and blanket the sky when they travel. So you can imagine what would happen when they land in your front yard.
European Starlings are just as small as house sparrows with a body that is between six to eight inches long. They have a fine dark plumage with pale speckles and a yellow bill. It’s estimated that two hundred million starlings live in the US and Mexico.
These little birds feed on insects and make nests in holes and cavities. You might find them nesting in your roof, attic, or even a hole in the wall. And because of the sheer number, they can escalate into a serious problem for any owner unfortunate enough to have them on the property.
Birds Facts and Fiction
To help you fight the birds that are making a mess of your yard and home, it’s important that you learn more about them and separate facts from fiction. The following questions shed light on the two most common birds that will come knocking and take over your place. While you can trap and get rid of some birds, others, like the Canadian Geese, are a protected species.
What are Canadian Geese Eating in my Yard?
When you find the long-necked Canadian Goose on your yard the first question that comes to your mind is what’s it doing there? Well, they’re not there for the view, that’s for sure. They happened to find a lot of food in your yard and they decided to help themselves.
The Canadian Goose feeds on grains and vegetation for the most part. But they’re not above eating insects or even small fish. If you have a pond, that’s one of the major attractions that geese gravitate towards.
The grass is another favorite food for this bird. Kentucky bluegrass is if of particular interest to Canadian Geese and gets them really excited. They like to hold the juicy blades with their beaks and snap them off with a jerk of the head. All while making a big brouhaha over their meals and honking like maniacs.
Why are Canadian Geese Protected?
At the right time of the year, Canadian Geese can be seen practically everywhere you look. You’ll see them in the pond or lake near you, in the parking lots, and even foraging by the side of the road. They make a lot of noise and leave a mess in their wake. So why are they protected?
Despite their huge numbers and their presence in urban and rural areas, Canadian Geese are well protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Whether you’re seeing migrating or resident birds, the law protects them all. Environmental watchdogs such as the Environmental Protection Agency protect them since they contribute to the ecological diversity in the area.
This protection doesn’t mean that Canadian Geese cannot be managed. People are encouraged to chase away these honkers and use various ways to make the area unappealing to them. We’ll discuss the best ways to repel Canadian Geese later.
Is it Illegal to Kill Canadian Geese?
As we stated in the previous section, killing Canadian Geese is not legal. The law protects the geese, their nests, and their eggs. In other words, if you kill a bird or destroy its nests or eggs, you’d have violated the law.
There are, however, certain exceptions to these laws and regulations. Certain states allow hunting Canadian Geese at certain times of the year. You’ll need to have a permit to hunt them and you can only do so during the hunting season which varies from one state to the other.
Furthermore, if the opportunistic birds become a real problem on your property, you might get permission from the local authorities to destroy their nests. To get such authorization, you’ll need to prove that the geese are causing damage to your property, crops, or farm.
What do Pigeons Hate?
As we have seen so far, pigeons have gotten used to living among people and they take every advantage of their urban dwellings. They don’t scare easily and can get quite aggressive if you try to shoo them off. You can, however, make the place unpleasant for them to stay.
One of the things that pigeons don’t like is sticky surfaces. They fly and land anywhere they like as long as the surface is dry. So if your roof or eaves are covered with a sticky substance such as honey, they’d avoid your house.
Strong spices are another deterrent to pigeons. The smell of the spices pushes them away. You can force a roosting pigeon to leave by sprinkling spices around its nest. Just make sure to add fresh spices regularly since the aroma tends to fade after a few days.
Are Pigeons Dirty?
There’s no doubt that pigeons bring ruin wherever they make nests. I remember the first apartment I had was a nice place with metal fixtures outside the windows to put potted plants. I brought a few flowering plants and watched them grow.
Then pigeons took a liking to the building and started building nests in every ventilation shaft they could find. Soon after that, I noticed that my flowers were lying dead in the pots and most of the plants were broken and trampled upon. It turned out that the pigeons were killing the plants to use them to build nests.
The droppings of pigeons and the awful smell became a serious problem. I had to move out as the numbers of the pigeons grew and the building became infested with insects and parasites. So, yes, these flying rats are as dirty as they come.
Are Pigeons Bad for Your Health?
Naturally, when a bird kills your flowers, destroys your garden, and builds smelly nests everywhere, they’re not good for your health. Apart from the smell and the bird droppings, pigeons are also responsible for spreading diseases such as E.coli, Cryptococcosis, Psittacosis, Histoplasmosis, and others.
Most of these diseases find their way into the house through air ducts and open windows. But that’s not the only health risk you get from having pigeons on your property. They also spread feathers and nest debris all over the place.
If that’s not enough, pigeons are also responsible for the widespread of ticks and other parasites such as bird mites, lice, and bed bugs. These vermin are not easy to exterminate once they take hold of a house. In severe cases of infestation, you’d need to call pest exterminators to fumigate the place.
Do Pigeons Sleep at Night?
When pigeons were living in the wild, it was common for them to call it a night once the sun went down. By nature, pigeons are not nocturnal and most of their enemies such as foxes and owls hunt them at night.
As soon as it gets dark, pigeons, both feral and domesticated, will fly back to their nests to sleep it off until the morning. However, pigeons that live in urban areas have a different story. Since there’s plenty of light in the streets, it’s not uncommon these days to see a pigeon prowling at the back of a food joint looking for a late meal.
It’s not clear how their internal clocks are set, but pigeons no longer rely on sunlight to start their daily activities. Where there’s light, you’ll seem them actively eating, dancing, and having a good time.
Easy Ways to Get Rid of Birds
Now it’s time to talk about the best ways to get rid of your bird infestation. We’ll cover here birds in general with special emphasis on pigeons and Canadian Geese.
How to Get Rid Of Birds In The Attic
When birds take residence in your attic, it can be hard to convince them to leave. This is why you need to take more drastic measures to make them vacate the premises in a hurry. Here are a few easy steps to help you get rid of the flying pests in your attic.
- Open the attic windows wide and remove any screens on them.
- Bring your radio up to the attic and tune in to a loud music station such as heavy rock and let it blast the attic. The loud thumping music will scare the birds away.
- Once the birds are out of the window, look around the attic for their nests.
- Get rid of the nests thus making sure the birds have no reason to come back to the attic again.
- Clean the attic with bleach to kill any parasites left behind and get rid of any bird smells that might invite them back.
How to Get Rid of Canadian Geese in the Yard
One of the easiest and most effective ways to send the invading Canadian Geese off in a hurry is to float a white swan in your pond or lake. Swans and geese don’t get along well. When a mother swan is taking care of a brood, she’ll attack the Canadian Geese on sight. This is why a plastic swan floating majestically in the water will prevent geese from landing.
This works well in water, but what about on land? You can use the same principle but with a different animal. Both a decoy dog and a coyote will do nicely. Canadian Geese have no love for either animal and would make a quick run if they see you have a dog or a coyote on the premises.
Finally don’t give geese an open space to live in. Surround your yard and bodies of water with tall plants. Geese like open spaces since they can detect predators coming from far. When you add shelters for predators in your yard, geese would go looking elsewhere for a safer yard than yours.
How to Get Pigeons Out of Your Attic
The problem with many bird repellents is that they could inadvertently harm other animals and pets in your household. To target pigeons, and only pigeons, you can use either of those two methods:
- Ultrasonic Devices: Remember what we said about the pigeons amazing homing capabilities? You can use that to your advantage when you try to kick them out of your attic. Turn on the ultrasonic device and leave it in the attic. The waves it emits will confuse the pigeons and they would feel disoriented. Eventually they develop a dislike to your attic and move to a less disturbing location.
- Gel: Use a gel to coat your roof and eaves with a thin film of sticky goo that makes landing on your property a hazardous endeavor for the pigeons. You might have to apply a few layers over time to make sure the pigeons get the message and go perch on trees and old barns instead.
How to Get Birds Out of the Chimney
When a bird finds itself inside your chimney either out of choice or because it lost its way, avoid the temptation to trap it or scare it with smoke. The chimney is not a suitable place to set a trap. At the same time if you try to burn fire in the fireplace to force the bird out of the chimney, the smoke might kill it and if there’s a nest there it will become a fire hazard.
Instead try to force the bird out of the chimney with noises and bright lights. First you need to make sure the chimney is open at the top and that it’s daylight so that the bird can see its way out. Now place a radio in the fireplace and let it blast some loud music. Then use a flashlight and train it on the bird.
Once the bird has made its escape out of the chimney, make sure to get a specialist to remove any nests there and clean the place from parasites and insects. Don’t try to destroy the nests yourself since it’s not safe.
How to Keep Birds Off Your Property
It must feel good to have finally managed to evacuate those pesky birds. It sure feels much more peaceful around the place and the air smells cleaner too. But this is no time to smell the lilies just yet. You still have to make sure birds don’t come back.
What Will Scare Canadian Geese Away?
You can still keep the same decoys that frightened the Canadian Geese out of your yard and pond. They are a good deterrent against them coming back. But now you can add a few more installations around your property to make it geese-proof.
Start with a wire fence. Extend a wire around the edge of the water and another one inside the water. It will prevent the geese from landing, swimming, and taking off again. This cheap and effective method is also long-term. Besides, if the Canadian Geese are migratory birds, then you’ll only need to install it when it’s the season.
Another way is to have a dog. If a decoy dog can scare them off, imagine what a real one will do. In addition, some experts recommend using flags around the yard and bodies of water to keep the skittish birds away.
How Do You Scare Pigeons Away?
Pigeons are bold around people but they’re easily scared of shiny objects and water. A cost-effective way to make pigeons go away is to spray them with a garden hose. They won’t like getting wet one bit.
You can also fly kites and decoys off your roof. The weird-looking toys will make sure no pigeon gets near to your roof or land in your yard. In the same vein, you can cover your roof with reflective surfaces. When the sun hits the roof it will shine like a Christmas tree.
How Do You Keep Pigeons Away Naturally?
To make sure that pigeons don’t make a home at your property, you need to remove all sources of food and water. Try not to feed them since that will encourage them to come back and stay for good.
If you have trees in your yard, they’re a natural attraction to pigeons. You can either cut them down or cover the branches with wires and spikes to make them less suitable as nesting spots.
What Smell Do Birds Hate?
Most animals would find repulsive smells distasteful. But since you don’t want to repel people and animals, only birds, so your best option is to use natural ingredients such as peppermint oil and citronella. Both of those have an amazing effect on birds.
To get the best results mix the two ingredients thoroughly and place them where birds like to land on your property. The best part is, the aroma that fills the air from this mixture is pleasant enough for humans and pets but very offensive to birds.
Do Fake Owls Keep Birds Away?
We saw how decoy swans can send Canadian Geese packing. But that’s because there’s no love lost between those two species. Owls are natural enemies to some birds so fake owls might deter them.
That said, large birds might not be scared of owls. If you’re trying to scare away house swallows or European Starlings, a decoy owl could work. But they won’t be as effective against Canadian Geese or even the pesky pigeons.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare