Coexisting with Birds

 


The following topics will be discussed on this page:

  • A bird keeps attacking my window?  What's going on?
  • A bird keeps swooping at me whenever I leave my home/office.  What should I do?
  • There is a bird stuck inside my house.  How do I get him out?
  • Pigeons, starlings, or sparrows are roosting on my building.  How do I get them to leave?
  • There is a bird's nest underneath my window air conditioner.  How do I get rid of it?
  • A woodpecker keeps drilling on the siding of my house.  How can I stop him?

 

Q:  A bird keeps attacking my window!  What's going on?

A:  Male birds commonly attack windows during mating season.  The bird wrongly assumes that his own reflection is a rival bird in his territory!  You can prevent this by temporarily hanging squares of aluminum foil outside the window to break up the reflection, or post-it notes all over the inside of the windows.

The good news is that this behavior is temporary and will subside once mating season has ended (usually within approximately 3 to 4 weeks).

 


Q:  A bird keeps swooping at me whenever I leave my home/office.  What should I do?

A:  Believe it or not, this is a fairly common occurence during the spring mating season.  The (male) bird sees you as competition for the female birds in his territory, and is doing his best to drive you off!  The situation is easily remedied by carrying a 12-inch by 12-inch square of aluminum foil with you as you enter and exit your home/office.  Birds are uneasy around shiny objects that reflect the sun's light, so you will be able to keep the amorous bird at bay by simply waving the aluminum foil above your head as you walk past.

Again, this situation is temporary, and the behavior will typically cease as soon as mating season is over (usually within a few weeks).

 


Q:  There's a bird stuck inside my house.  How do I get him out?

A:  Birds inside buildings can sometimes be gently “herded” out provided that the ceilings of the building are not too high.  Turn off all interior lights and open as many doors and windows (preferably big doors) as possible.   Then, create a "moving" wall by tying a bed sheet between two broom handles and holding the sheet up so it is flush with the ceiling.  Gently herd the bird towards the exit so you do not panic the bird.  Panicked birds may fly into windows or other barriers.  Also, do not press a bird for long time so he does not become exhausted trying to flee.

 


Q:  Pigeons, starlings or sparrows are roosting on my building.  How do I get them to leave?

A:  Roosting birds' droppings can be annoying to people.  However, poisoning is extremely cruel -- the intent of some common poisons is to cause extended seizures in birds and supposedly frighten the other birds away.  Further more, poisoning does not solve the problem because other birds will soon move in to fill the vacancy.  A better solution is to make the roosting surface unattractive to the birds, which will encourage them to go elsewhere.

For example, while a flat ledge is attractive to pigeons, a false ledge can be made by placing a board at an angle of at least 45 degrees so that birds will slide off when they land.  You can also use bird netting or a stretched out, nailed down "Slinky" from a toy store to prevent birds from landing on your ledges.  If you use a Slinky, stretch it so that two fingers fit between the spirals.

A number of companies have created repellents designed to discourage birds from roosting where they are not wanted.  Examples of such repellents can be found at www.airepel.com and www.birdbarrier.com.

 


Q:  There is a bird's nest underneath my window air conditioner.  How do I get rid of it?

A:  Actually, you may not need to do anything.  Birds have an incredibly short development period in the nest - just three weeks!  And as soon as the development period is over, the birds abandon the nest completely.  Furthermore, baby birds are relatively quiet until just before they leave the nest.  So while the vocalization of baby birds may be a slight annoyance, keep in mind that it won't last long. 

A baby bird's best chance for survival is to remain in the nest with his parents.  If baby birds are relocated, the adult birds won't follow!  Plus, removing the babies from the protection of the air conditioner will expose the baby birds to the direct sun, wind and rain.  So the best course of action is to give the current bird family a grace period of a few weeks, and then seal off any cavities with netting once the current birds are gone, in order to prevent other birds from moving in.

If you removed your air conditioner without knowing that there was a nest of birds living beneath it, you can make a temporary nesting site for the babies by taking an empty 2-gallon milk container and cutting a hole in one side.  Place the baby birds inside the container, and secure the container to the window sill (with the hole facing out) as close to the original nesting site as possible.  Baby birds cannot be moved within more than an inch or two of their original nesting site, or the adult birds will not find them!  Monitor the new nest from afar to make sure that the adult birds have returned to care for their young.  If you do not see signs of the adult birds after an hour, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator for further assistance.

 


Q:  A woodpecker keeps drilling on the siding of my house.  How can I stop him?

A:  Woodpeckers drill on the siding of people's houses for two reasons:  in search of food (bugs), or to attract a mate during mating season.

If the woodpecker only drills on your siding during the early morning hours, it is very likely that the woodpecker is a male trying to attract a mate.  This behavior is temporary, and will cease once mating season is over (usually within a few weeks).  In the mean time, to discourage the woodpecker, hang silver mylar balloons or mylar streamers (found at children's party stores) above head level of where the woodpecker is drilling.  Bright, shiny materials that reflect the sun's light make birds uneasy, and will convince the woodpecker that your house is not a safe place for courting rituals.

If the woodpecker is drilling on your siding at all hours of the day, he is most likely looking for bugs or attempting to create a cavity.  The first step is to check to make sure that there are no areas of rotting wood underneath your siding, as this is where the bugs are found.  If you are sure there are no areas of rotting wood, you may attempt to discourage the woodpecker from drilling by attaching silver mylar balloons or mylar streamers to your house as described above.  Additionally, a company called Bird Barrier America (www.birdbarrier.com) sells a repellent that can be sprayed directly on your house to discourage woodpeckers.