It is quite common to see birds nesting in the trees near your house. They also like to build nests in the hedges growing around your property. The main goal of nest building is inaccessibility to the nest by humans and predators. This is what makes a gutter system such a great place for a bird family to settle down. Small to mid-sized birds such as crows, finches, sparrows, thrushes, and pigeons can cause real problems for homeowners. Now is time to take action before spring arrives. Here are some practical tips for keeping birds out of your gutters.
Why Nesting Birds can be a Problem
Blocked gutters: Depending on where the nest is built in the gutters, water might or might not be able to flow around the nest. Even if some rainwater does manage to reach the downspouts, the blockage reduces the gutter’s capacity. Nests are made of bits of twigs, leaves, feathers, and grasses, all types of organic materials that form clogs and cause standing water or overflowing gutters.
Birds don’t stay put: They walk around on the roof, or hop on and off the edges of the eaves and gutters. Because they’re always on the move around where they have made a nest, their feet or claws can damage roof tiles, roof valleys, and aluminum gutters.
Health risks: Birds hanging around your home’s exterior poses a number of health risks. The birds themselves can carry a variety of diseases and are known to host mites and other kinds of parasites. Humans can develop flu-like symptoms if they come into contact with bird droppings.
Bird droppings: Aside from health issues, bird droppings are generally corrosive to many building materials. The can eat away asphalt shingles, weaken tar and tar paper, and remove the finish from aluminum gutters.
Ways to Prevent Birds from Nesting
Good lawn care habits: When it comes to stopping birds from nesting in the gutters, prevention can go a long way. Especially as we get closer to spring, when cutting the lawn or weeding or trimming hedges, rake up clippings, twigs, etc. After wind or rainstorms, inspect the yard for any debris and clear it away. Don’t stockpile pots, planters, or other kinds of containers that might look inviting to expecting bird parents – store them in a gardening or utility shed.
Good gutter cleaning habits: Cleaning the gutters regularly will remove the types of organic materials that invite birds to build nests in a gutter system. Do you clean the gutters twice a year and still get nesters? When there are a lot of trees on your property and many of them are near the house you may have to clean your gutter three or four times a year.
Use decoys: Fake owls and birds that prey on other birds such as hawks, gulls, and crows will scare away birds that want to nest in your gutters. However, they won’t stay fooled – you might eventually have to move the decoy to somewhere else. Before adding a decoy to your roof, check for any restrictions – some gated communities or associations don’t allow them.
Bird repellents: Store-bought sprays with strong scents can make birds looking for a place to nest feel uncomfortable enough to leave. Home-made sprays created from household items such as a mixture of crushed chili peppers, water and vinegar can be equally effective. Keep in mind that you might have to reapply the repellent from time to time.
Bird spikes: Bird spikes are typically constructed of metal or plastic and look like long, thin rods ranging from short (3”) to long (10”). The complete opposite of how the name sounds, bird spikes have blunt ends and are actually one of the most humane way to deter birds from nesting in your gutters.