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How to deter birds from building nests under roof eaves

Birds hold a special fascination for many of us – they are often used as symbols of freedom and carefree life, and bird watchers are one of the most avid groups of wildlife enthusiasts out there. We feed them bread and nuts in the winter and set up bird houses for them. However, sometimes they can cause intense annoyance when they set up home just a little too close for comfort. Migratory birds like house martins often make nests in the apex of the eaves of our roofs – waking us up early in the morning with their shrill cries and pooing over our driveways. It’s illegal to remove inhabited nests, but in the winter we can make preparations to deter them from coming back.

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Clean up

  1. Make sure you clean all remnants of the old nests away before you do anything else. Clean the poo and everything else off with bleach. Wear a face mask because inhaling particles of bird faeces can be dangerous to your health.

  2. Hang anything shiny like aluminium foil or old CDs or DVDs in the eaves of your roof. Suspend them from thread so they move around with the wind. Hang plastic bags either side of the eaves so they flap around in the wind. The noise and movement will deter the birds, but won’t look particularly attractive either.

  3. Put chicken wire in the eaves during winter so the birds will find it more difficult to get into the corners they like to nest in. You can also buy special bird deterrents which are sets of long spikes that birds find it difficult to land on or near. Hanging bird netting will prevent the birds gaining access in the first place and only has to be erected in the months of spring and early summer when nest-building is taking place.

  4. Apply some kind of inert gel to the roof eaves because birds won’t want to land on anything sticky. Petroleum jelly is a good option because it won’t quickly dry up, but there are also specially designed ones you can buy. Most are relatively transparent so they can be used without damaging the appearance of your house.

  5. Warning

    Always wear a mask when cleaning bird poo.

    Use a ladder safely - ideally with another person holding the bottom.

    You can be prosecuted for destroying a nest that is in use, so make sure the nest has been vacated before you remove it.

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Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Face mask
  • A ladder
  • Chicken wire
  • Bird spikes
  • Gel, such as petroleum jelly
  • Shiny foil or old CDs
  • Carrier bags

About the Author

Robert Macintosh is a full-time journalist based in Northern Ireland. He has accumulated eight years’ experience since 2005, writing for magazines, newspapers and websites in various countries. Macintosh has specialised in politics and entertainment. He has an honours degree in social anthropology, an NVQ level 4 in newspaper journalism and an AS Level in photography.

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