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How can I get the birds to stop eating my window screens?
April 15, 2009 6:47 AM   Subscribe

How can I get the birds to stop eating my window screens?

I've just discovered that birds have been eating my window screens. Well, not eating them, of course, but apparently stealing the individual strands to use in building their nests. There were formerly a couple of worn out places and holes in this one screen, I guess because this place is old and it's the beach, and they have now turned that into six inches of missing screen all the way across the bottom.

How can I get them to stop, short of just riding out nest-building season? I've seen this question asked online but have not seen any good answers. Is there some kind of chili pepper spray that would keep them away? A little troll scarecrow? There's only about an inch of exterior window sill to work with or I'd try the plastic owl people use to keep pigeons away. I don't want to put cardboard over the area as I saw suggested somewhere because it will take me forever to grow out a matching mullet.

I guess I'll haveg to replace this one screen, but there are other screens in slightly worn condition too and I'd like to do something to them before they become targets too. CURSE YOU, LITTLE BIRRRDS.
posted by Askr to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
 
Bird spikes.
posted by snowjoe at 6:52 AM on April 15, 2009


I'll do bird spikes as a last resort, but would like to avoid them given how prisony they look.
posted by Askr at 7:05 AM on April 15, 2009


Stop using tasty screens?

Try boiling up some chili peppers, steep, strain and spray or brush onto the screens.
posted by zerokey at 7:17 AM on April 15, 2009


Maybe a bird silhouette would work. Generally they are meant to stop birds from flying into windows, but it might keep them away in general.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:22 AM on April 15, 2009


Birds do not have the receptors required to feel the heat of chili peppers. They will happily eat mega-doses of capsaicin. So that suggestion is not going to help. Cite
posted by pixlboi at 7:26 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe a cat silhouette instead? Or tie some streamers or anything colorful and flappy on your window ledge.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2009


I would think the birds would just use the streamers as more next building material.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:09 AM on April 15, 2009


When you replace the screens, use bronze or aluminium wire screen instead of fibreglass/plastic, which gets degraded by the sun even when the birds aren't using it.
posted by flabdablet at 8:13 AM on April 15, 2009


As noted above, capsaicin (chili peppers) won't work to repel birds, but other chemical bird repellents exist. Methyl anthranilate, an artificial grape flavour, is a well-known one. I would think that your local hardware store could help you out.

Also, you might try distracting them with something more natural.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:28 AM on April 15, 2009


Install some metal screens, and in the meantime either remove all nest-making material so they go elsewhere, or give them something more appropriate to use.
posted by fracas at 8:37 AM on April 15, 2009


I would think the birds would just use the streamers as more next building material.

True enough, but then they wouldn't be using the screen...

Maybe a few colorful pinwheels mounted on the ledge somehow? There's a pattern for folding your own in the latter link.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:50 AM on April 15, 2009


First off, you're not going to have to wait too long. Nest-building season (as opposed to nesting season) is pretty short. However, what kind of birds? That matters a bit, because some birds have several broods during a season, and they build a new nest for each one. That said...

they have now turned that into six inches of missing screen all the way across the bottom.

What I'd do is tape over the torn part, and any other loose wires, with packing tape. Benefits: Adhesive -- they can't get to the screen. Clear -- won't block light, and won't be all that visible. Temporary -- in a month or so, you'll be able to remove it and forget all about it.

Providing alternative nesting materials is a nice idea, but is probably futile. It's not like they have a shortage of stuff to use -- they've just found something they really like.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:18 AM on April 15, 2009


Thanks, team. I think I'll tape off the existing screen edge and see if that will survive the weather, get a new screen of the right material at some point, and try out some of that grape repellent by the other windows. I like the idea of giving them other material to work with, but am betting they'd still eat me screens (which are, in fairness, delicious).

I don't know what different kinds of birds they are, btw. I tend to file birds into categories like "aww cute" and "badass" and "uff, too early for all that noise"
posted by Askr at 12:08 PM on April 15, 2009


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