How to (Safely) Deter Nuisance Birds From Perching

Birds can make a mess if they perch in undesirable places. Get expert tips to deter birds from perching and manage aggressive birds.

how to deter birdsSteve and Dave Maslowski
Birders may love cardinals, but they don’t want them soiling their mailbox

“My mailbox is constantly soiled by robins and other birds that love to sit on it. Is there anything I can do to deter them?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Mady Breeden of Bear, Delaware.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Birds in our yards bring joy to our lives, but in some places their waste can be problematic. Fortunately, harmless products are available to prevent birds from perching in certain areas. These range from strips of flexible spikes to small reflective spinners that can be mounted in place. Or you might try a floral arrangement made specifically to attach to a mailbox; you could add a reflective spinner to seasonal flowers.

Be sure to check with your local post office, though, before altering your mailbox. And never use glue traps or other products that can seriously harm birds.

Learn how to get rid of blackbirds and grackles at feeders.

Readers Share Tips to Safely Deter Aggressive Birds

Bnbhc18 Anne DonovanCourtesy Anne Donovan
Offer multiple feeders so ruby-throated hummingbirds have ample space.

“My favorite bird feeder has customizable perches and a large slippery dome. Heavier birds are too big for the feeder, and squirrels slide right off!” says Pat Brown of Springfield, Virginia.

“Upside-down suet feeders mostly attract nuthatches and woodpeckers, not bullies,” says Jennifer Broadstreet Hess of Marion, Kansas.

“Rock pigeons mobbed my feeders, so I bought green vinyl-coated wire mesh with 2-by-3-inch holes to surround the trays. Small songbirds get in, but pigeons can’t!” says Andrew Rivinus of Canby, Oregon.

305392762 1 Jacqueline  Fazio  Bnb Pc 2022Courtesy Jacqueline Fazio
Try these strategies to deter aggressive birds like this common grackle

“I only use safflower seeds! Grackles (and squirrels) don’t like them, but they attract cardinals, finches, chickadees and more,” says Laurin McCarley of Clover, South Carolina.

“I keep aggressive hummingbirds to a minimum by placing multiple feeders in my front yard and a few in the back. Bullies can’t be in two places at once, so the others get a chance to sip nectar too!” says Rebecca McLaughlin of Flatwoods, Kentucky.

Next, check out the best squirrel-proof bird feeders and 12 tips that work.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.