Many bird species have adapted well to our urban environments. From pigeons in our parks to brush turkeys strutting the suburbs, there’s no shortage of feathered friends around us. Some even come a little closer, making their homes right alongside our own. And who doesn’t love waking up to the sound of birdsong?
But while having a few birds perched on your roof might not seem like too much of a problem, what happens when a few become many? Or if you suspect them to be nesting in your roof? If that’s the case, then stick with us as we explore some of the ways you can get rid of birds on the roof – or in it!
Why are birds on the roof a problem?
Before we dive into how to solve the problem, let’s consider why it’s such an issue in the first place.
Your family’s health
Firstly, and probably most importantly, a heavy bird presence on or in your roof can pose a health risk to you and your family – both indoors and outdoors.
There are more than 60 zoonotic diseases – diseases that can be passed from animals to humans – associated with bird droppings, feathers, and secretions from infected birds. And you don’t even have to come into direct contact with bird poop to catch them; some can be transmitted by simply breathing in dust containing infected matter. And if you’ve got birds nesting inside the home, there’s potential for your air conditioner unit to help the infection spread around the house.
Some of these diseases can be incredibly dangerous, and some can even be fatal. Serious infections such as Cryptococcosis, Psittacosis, and Histoplasmosis can all be caused by breathing in the contaminated matter, with elderly people, young children, and those with lower immune systems, especially at risk. Gastrointestinal illnesses can also be caused by accidental contact with droppings, resulting in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
A small amount of contact is very low risk, so you’re free to keep believing that a bird pooping on your head is good luck. But as the droppings accumulate and dry out, the risk increases.
In addition to disease, birds can also carry parasites, including bed bugs, ticks, and lice. Their nests and droppings can also attract other pests to the area, including rodents, insects, and snakes – all of which can pose their own threats to your safety.
Damage to your home
Depending on the type of bird and where they’re nesting, you might find that leaving them unchecked can cause lasting damage to your home.
Some birds choose to build their nests in gutters, as they’re high up and provide a ready water source. This is great for the birds, but less great for your gutters, which can become clogged by the nesting materials.
More serious still are those pesky bird droppings. As well as posing a health risk, large quantities of the stuff can damage roofing materials due to its acidic nature. It can also pose a threat to solar panels and air conditioners, preventing them from working properly.
And if you have a chimney, you’ll need to be even more careful. For birds that nest in hollow trees, your chimney might present an attractive alternative solution in an urban landscape. Nests can block the airflow of a chimney, allowing smoke and dangerous carbon monoxide to linger in the home. And it’s not so safe for the birds either; baby birds might slip and fall from their nests and wind up in your living room.
There’s also a risk of your belongings becoming nesting materials. If birds have taken up residence in attic spaces, there’s likely no end of forgotten bedding and papers perfect for building their own little home, hidden away inside your own.
Given the materials used, nests can also pose a fire risk, especially once the birds have moved on and abandoned it.
What attracts birds to your roof?
There are a few things that can lure a bird to your roof.
The first is likely quite obvious – a ready food supply! Open bins and compost containers are a particularly enticing asset for a bird looking to settle down. Any yard might also be a haven for the insects and small rodents that some birds like to prey on. And, as mentioned earlier, gutters can provide a source of water. If you regularly feed your pet outside, birds might also be tempted by any water bowls and food remnants left outdoors.
As natural landscapes give way to urban developments, safe nesting habitats for birds disappear. But generally speaking, they’re an adaptable bunch and will quickly find somewhere new to call home. Houses are high up, like trees, and a resourceful bird might find a perfect perch somewhere in the eaves.
Lack of predators
Not only is the height of a nest important in protecting a bird’s young – and themselves – from predators, but the presence of humans is often a deterrent for any dangerous creatures too. Staying close to us might well be of benefit to a nesting bird.
How to identify birds in your roof
While the odd bird or two hanging around your garden might not be an issue, it’s important to watch for signs that they might be making themselves a little too at home.
Look for larger gatherings of birds at regular times. These are likely to be locals, and they’re sure to be nesting somewhere nearby. Species such as pigeons, starlings, sparrows, and mynas are amongst the most common to find roosting in your eaves, so be sure to keep an eye out if there’s a large population of them in your area. With the exception of pigeons, who will generally only attack if provoked or if you get too close to an active nest, these birds can be quite bold and aggressive, driving out native animals and even swooping at people and pets. That’s certainly something to consider if you find any of these invasive birds in and around the home.
Keep an eye out for nest debris, such as sticks or torn up papers. You may even see the birds themselves searching your yard for materials.
Look for droppings concentrated in a specific area. This means a bird is likely living nearby, rather than just passing through.
It sounds obvious but finding lots of feathers is a pretty clear sign! They might be in the home or blocking gutters and drains outside.
Use your ears as well as your eyes – you might be able to hear the birds building their nests in an attic space, or even the chirps of young chicks soon after hatching.
Protecting the birds
If you discover a birds’ nest in or around your roof, it will probably be quite tempting to try and move the nest yourself. This is not a recommended solution. Not only could it be unsafe for you and the birds, particularly if there are eggs in the nest, but you might also wind up breaking the law.
Laws vary state to state, but all are designed with the goal of protecting the animals and managing our relationship with the natural world. It may be that you’ve got an endangered species nesting in your home, or that it’s simply illegal to torment or distress an animal – something that moving a nest containing eggs or recently hatched baby birds will certainly do.
Whatever the reason, reaching out to a professional pest control company to assess the situation is always a good idea. They’ll be able to identify the birds, work out the best way to deal with them, and make sure you stay on the right side of the law.
They’ll also be able to make the call on whether or not it’s appropriate to euthanise any birds, but this should only ever be in cases where a serious health and safety hazard has been identified and only used as a last resort.
So how do you get rid of birds on your roof?
How to get rid of birds on the roof
If the birds seem quite content on the roof, rather than in it, there’s a few options you can try to move them on without calling in the professionals.
Block off their food and water supply
A simple but effective solution. If you can work out where the birds are finding their meals, you can take steps to limit their access. Keep your pets’ food indoors, and always clear up after a BBQ. Remember that some species of birds are quite clever and will quickly find ways around a simple lid or a tied-up bag – you might have to get a little inventive!
You should also take a look at the plants in your garden. Fruit and berry-bearing trees are excellent fodder for birds,
It’s also important that you make sure no one is intentionally feeding the birds, leading them to stick around. Curious children or other well-meaning family members might be doing more harm than good.
BYOP – Bring your own predator
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you unleash snakes or bigger birds in your own backyard. But a well-placed statue or model of a predator or a person might deter any newcomers to the area. “Scarecrows” aren’t called scarecrows for nothing, after all!
Finding the right spot to place a scary replica can be tricky, and for the more curious birds this might not work – once they get up close and see that ol’ Patchy isn’t moving, they’ll learn pretty quickly that he’s not an actual threat – but it’s worth trying early on in the process, and you can always move them around day to day to give the illusion that they’re not static figures. And, worst-case scenario, you’ve got a spare prop for Halloween.
Placing shiny or reflective objects around the home can also help deter birds. Smaller items like old CDs or tin foil can be hung near nesting sites, discouraging birds from coming too near. The movement of the reflective surface can be misinterpreted as fire for an approaching bird, and they’ll naturally turn away from danger without getting too close.
Spherical objects are also a great visual deterrent, as birds may think they’re actually the large eyes of a predator, and naturally try to avoid them.
There are plenty of repellent sprays on the market, as well as some you can even make at home. Some are designed to drive them away with specific scents, while others create uncomfortable, sticky surfaces that birds won’t want to stand on.
While these might be effective initially, they do rely on constant reapplication. If you’re doing this yourself, you best get comfortable with ladders and heights! You’ll also need to make absolutely sure that the products you’re using are non-toxic and environmentally safe. This will ensure you protect yourself, your family, your home, AND the birds themselves.
A pest control company might recommend the use of a sonic repellent device, which uses sound to keep the birds away.
Some devices will use high-frequency noises that people can’t hear, while others will produce noises similar to bird distress signals or predator cries. The latter type will likely only sound like general bird calls to people and pets.
These repellents can often be programmed to only run at certain times of the day, meaning you can manage any disruptions and keep on top of power usage.
Bird spikes sound a lot scarier than they actually are. They’re most likely to be seen on commercial buildings, usually chosen with the intent of keeping pigeons at bay.
Bird spikes are placed on the edge of buildings, around gutters, and along fences to prevent birds and other animals, such as possums, from landing on them. The tips of the spikes are dulled, so they don’t pose any real danger – the goal is simply to make it difficult to navigate the space, so animals choose a different, less frustrating space.
This is a great option if you’re looking for a deterrent that has no impact on the surrounding area – they don’t make a noise, they don’t require power, and from a distance, they’re hard to spot. They’re also quick and easy to install. You can even DIY your own spikes, though buying them might be the better option, as you can be sure of quality and safety standards.
That said, they won’t do much to deter smaller birds, and, of course, lining the edges of a roof doesn’t do much to cover the rest of the space.
Have you ever seen a net covering the roof of a building? It may have been a bird net.
The goal of a bird net is to make the space inaccessible to birds, so they’ll choose to roost and nest elsewhere. The net is difficult to navigate, blocking them from landing or finding hidden corners, as well as restricting movement if they do find a spot to land on. It can also be used to protect trees.
However, it is incredibly important that you choose the right netting for your situation. Larger holes in the net might let smaller birds through, while a smaller mesh will do nothing to stop a larger bird. It’s also not uncommon for birds and small
mammals to panic and become tangled in the net itself, something which might actually prove fatal to the animal.
If you’re considering a bird net, it’s a good idea to contact an expert to make sure you’re using the right type of net for the birds in your area and to help install it safely. You can also find specific nets to help protect solar panels, which often provide a fantastic nesting spot for birds.
Catch and release
If you’re experienced enough to know what you’re doing, trapping and moving the birds is certainly an option. For most people though, this responsibility should only fall to a professional pest control worker.
Birds will naturally nest in the safest spots they can find – and for humans, that often means they’re also the most awkward and hard-to-reach spots. That means that, for your safety, this is one that might be best left to the professionals. It’s also important for the birds’ safety too, as well as that of the nest. Not only will you need to fully understand how to trap them safely, but you’ll need to know what to do next. Where will you relocate them too? How will you do it? How can you make sure they won’t come back?
How to get rid of birds in the roof
So, what happens when the birds have made the move indoors?
Firstly, you’ll need to remember that moving a nest might do more harm than good. It’s not only distressing to the birds and to any eggs that might be in the nest, but it’s also potentially illegal. Even with the guidance of a professional pest control company, you’ll likely need to wait until the baby birds have fledged – meaning they’re able to fly – and are ready to move on of their own accord. Then you can get down to the important business of sealing up any holes to prevent a return the following nesting season.
As well as locating and removing entry points, you’ll also want to clean and sanitise the area. This is both for your own safety and to prevent birds from naturally returning to the same spot over and over. Cleaning the space removes their scent and any lingering pheromones, meaning they’re less likely to be lured back again next season.
Old nests can also be a potential fire hazard, so it’s important that they’re removed entirely.
As always, your safety is the most important thing, and given that you’ll probably be navigating heights and difficult roof spaces during this process, you might want to consider hiring a professional to do at least some of the work. This will not only keep you safe but ensure the job is done right the first time.
And while they’re doing all the hard work on the roof, you can begin preparing the rest of your home for the next nesting season!
Prevention is better than cure
Even if you don’t have birds lingering on your roof, it ultimately pays to be prepared – especially if you see a lot of feathered friends flying around your local area.
Here are a few simple tips to get you started:
- If you’re new to an area, get to know your neighbours and see if they’ve had any problems in the past. Not only will you get a sense of how big an issue it is for your suburb, but you might get the name of a great local pest service!
- You could also get to know the local birds. Knowing what birds are around, and learning about each species’ patterns and behaviours might help you better prevent them from causing problems further down the line.
- Install bird boxes and bird feeders. This one might seem a little counterintuitive – after all, you don’t want to invite the birds in, do you? But like repellents and spikes, this is all about training the local birds to look elsewhere for a place to call home.
- Placing a bird box close to the original site offers an attractive solution to the now-unavailable roof space, and providing a controlled and reliable food source means birds are less likely to start exploring areas you don’t want them in.
- Investing in things like bird spikes or repellents early on may be able to stop birds nesting in your eaves before they even begin to consider it.
- Look after your home. Keep your gutters clear, manage your garden, and be sure to check your home regularly for any access points that need to be sealed. A neat and tidy home might be inviting for humans, but it could be much less welcoming to a bird!
- And, finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional. Many pest control companies are experts in avian evictions and will be able to offer specialised advice and services for your situation.
- Alex Kecskes, 2021, “Nesting Birds on Your Home? How to Get Rid of Them”, Bird B Gone
- 2017, “What Types of Birds Nest in Your Roof?”, Aussie Gutter Protection
- 2020, “5 Home Remedies to Keep Birds Away”, Northwest
- 2020, “Work with bird and bat droppings”, WorkSafe
- 2022, “Is it illegal to remove birds’ nests from roofs?”, Aussie Gutter Protection
- “What to do about birds that live in the house ceiling”, All Wildlife Removal Inc.
- “How to get rid of pigeons from your roof and keep them away”, Pest Defence
- “How to keep birds off your roof”, Rooftec Roof Painting