I know how you feel; you’re thinking about getting rid of birds, and you’re perhaps motivated by Hitchcock. Never fear, there are plenty of ways to control birds without having to use toxic chemicals or bird poisons (avicides). And really, you probably can’t use avicides in your district, county, state, or whatever because the use of avicides is usually pretty restrictive, and with good reason. Avicides kill a lot more than just the bird you’re trying to get rid of. A lot of birds like sparrows consist on similar diets, so targeting a particular species with a tasteless, undiscriminating poison like strychnine is not a realistic goal. Luckily for you there’s such things like bird repellent, bird traps, bird alarms, and scarecrows. I’m kidding about the scarecrows, sort of.
Since this is a broad overview on the subject of getting rid of birds, we’re going to quickly cover some of the more basic strategies for getting rid of pigeons, woodpeckers, and geese. Each section will eventually link to an article with more detailed information about how to control that particular bird as the season goes on. For now, le’ts get through the most common pest bird species and the very basic bird control methods that seem most effective for each one.
Pestiferous Bird Species & Bird Control
Before trying to get rid of birds that are causing you problems, you should know the laws protecting birds.Killing any other bird besides pigeons, house sparrows, and European starlings is against the law in almost every state, and most are protected by federal laws as well. Take this into consideration when you’re dealing with birds like woodpeckers, geese, and other avian vertebrates. Identification of your pest is key to ensuring that you are not breaking any laws by killing the pest.
Pigeons are a difficult bird to get rid of because they are persistent pests and their populations in urban areas are usually quite numerous. If you live in a rural area, pigeon control is quite simple: shoot them. If you live in an urban area, the chances of you being arrested after shooting a gun outdoors are high. Your first line of urban defense against pigeons are mechanical perch repellents—those sharp wires and needles that you see on the ledges and roofs of many state institutions.
Woodpeckers are one of nature’s most beautiful birds, but they do cause problems when they’re looking for food in your siding. More often than not, the reason you are experiencing woodpecker problems (ie. woodpeckers pecking at your house) is that you have another pest residing in your siding, like carpenter bees, termites, carpenter ants, or wood-boring beetles. Law forbids shooting woodpeckers, so you’re left with repellent devices. I would suggest hanging strips of aluminum foil on strings hung from the eves nearest their favorite feeding spot.
Geese present a particularly difficult problem because states enforce a non-harassment mandate between the months of June and August when geese are nesting. Apart from this legal constraint, the techniques for getting rid of geese or any water fowl are fairly simple. Stop feeding the geese, if you have been feeding them. If you notice geese on your property, immediately shoo them away, or scare them on a regular basis until they feel the need to find a different roosting area. Even setting up a family of swan decoys will help discourage geese from settling in.
If it turns out that the bird pest you are planning to control isn’t protected by law in your area, you may want to consider using avicides. Avidices are what we call bird poison. However, their use has been heavily restricted by law because of the chances that you’ll end up killing a lot of species besides the birds you are attempting to control. Strychnine, DRC-1339, and CPTH are a few common avicidal chemicals in use. Perhaps the only brand name avicide I can think of right now would be Avitrol, but there isn’t a better way to anger Audubon Society and PETA members than to use an avicide to get rid of birds.
Bird Traps and Bird Repellents
There are just a ton of bird-repellent chemicals and devices on the market today. You can’t type bird control into a search engine without an entire result page filled with bird control device manufacturer’s homepages. How effective are these bird control products? That’s a good question. I don’t have time to go through each and every product I’ve found online, so I’ll just give you a list of some of the companies I know to be reputable and trusted within the pest management industry.
Bird Traps: I couldn’t find Brody Enterprises (a well-known manufacturer of bird control devices and live bird traps), but I know that Bird Motels sells pigeon traps for about $60 a piece. This may sound a little pricey, but one of the most effective ways to control pigeons is to trap them and relocate them a fair distance from your home. They also make a model for house sparrows as well, if sparrows are your problem bird.
Bird Repellents: One of the most trusted brands in the bird repellent market is Bird-X. I’ll let them describe their business practices for you: “Bird-X’s policy is to provide non-lethal, non-harmful, environmentally safe and ecologically sound products. We regularly receive referrals from the Audubon Society and the Animal Damage Control division of the USDA.” You can’t go wrong with an endorsement from the Audubon Society.
Natural Bird Control
Most natural forms of bird control involve silhouettes of birds of prey set up around the house to scare other pestiferous birds. These are often made of plastic or cardboard and are sold either in an agricultural center or at a hardware store. The type of bird silhouette you use, of course, depends upon the species of bird you’re attempting to get rid of.
Bird Alarms are what I’d go with if I were going to go electronic with bird control, and then I’d go with Martley audible bird alarms. Some people think silent bird alarms are the way to go, but the effectiveness of ultrasonic or silent bird alarms is questionable, at best. Many audible bird alarms come with visual deterrent features as well.
Flight Control is a newer non-toxic product on the market that’s actually being deployed by airports and local airfields. According to Flight Control marketing, Flight Control can be applied to both turf and buildings, and is highly effective in repelling birds like Canada Geese, Starlings, and other “nuisance” birds.