Bird Control in the Yard and Garden

Great Tit (Parus major)

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Millions of homes and properties in the United States are plagued by birds that enjoy harvesting berries long before they're ripe. There are dozens of varieties of bird control on the market, and most are non-toxic and harmless to birds. It can be hard to figure out which is right for you and your needs, and each type has its pros and cons. Most humane bird control can be divided into several categories: visual scares, taste aversions, roost inhibitors, sonic repellers and ultrasonic disrupters.

Visual Deterrents

Anything that is supposed to irritate or make the birds feel unsafe by appealing to their visual sense is classified as a visual scare. Visual scare devices include objects that are likely to frighten birds away, such as plastic owls and coyotes, Terror-Eyes balloons, and shiny tape. Old CDs also make a good visual deterrent. Tie them from a branch and they will twirl and glint in the sun.

  • They cover a large area.

  • They are usually a one-time buy.

  • They require a level of maintenance.

  • Most must be moved around the garden or property every couple of days to remain effective.

Taste Aversions

Taste aversions are any chemical, spray, or compound that is applied to anything to make it taste or smell bad to birds. Some are targeted to specific species, like GooseChase, while others are used for a specific purpose, like FruitShield. Most are made from a compound called methyl anthranilate, which comes from grapes and is used as a flavoring. Watch out for some that do not use this compound; make sure that the chemical you are applying is safe for humans and birds.

  • The upside of a taste aversion is that it gives very specific protection and is very effective at protecting crops, fruits, or grass.

  • The downside is that it requires re-application every so often—less often if the spray is micro-encapsulated so it releases over time.


Roost inhibitors include spikes, chemical barriers, and netting. These are perhaps the most commonly used methods of bird control and are very effective at keeping birds off of ledges, beams, and other outcroppings. Chemical barriers like BirdProof cause the ledge to feel sticky, which birds hate. This is invisible, but it requires re-application every year or so.

  • Spikes and netting are both an effectively permanent solution.

  • Barriers can change the look of your home or property.

Sound Repellers

Sonic and ultrasonic repellers are sound systems that emit the distress calls of the targeted species, predator calls, other loud noises, or ultrasonic pulses. Sonic repellers are extremely effective if they randomize pitch, frequency, timing, and other factors. Ultrasonic systems emit pulses that bother the birds, but humans cannot hear. They are very similar to sonic systems, only different in the fact that most humans are unaware of their emissions.

  • Sonic repellers can be very effective and cover a good deal of territory.

  • Birds will stop responding to sonic repellers unless they are programmed to change their sounds regularly.

  • Sonic repellers are among the more expensive bird repellents.