How do I keep birds from nesting in my porch lights? They make a terrible mess and fly out of the nest as though they want to attack me every time I open the door. I tried putting spikes on top of the lights, but they built a nest right around them and seemed to use the spikes as structural support! I don’t want to hurt them just keep them away. Signed, Nick
Yes, watching the comings and goings of birds from a nest can be interesting, but not so much if they are right next to your door and messy and loud. So here are some ideas.
If nesting has already started, you can remove a partially built nest by hand. You might have to keep doing this several times, but the birds will eventually give up and move on. Once the nest is fully built and contains eggs, though, federal law forbids disturbing them. So, you must pay attention and act quickly as soon as you see nesting activity. If you are too late for that, wait until the fledglings leave the nest and use another door for a while.
Once they are gone and it is safe, try these tactics to keep the birds from returning:
- 1. Install bird netting over the top of the light fixture to block the birds' access to it. Choose a netting that is nonflammable and safe to use around light bulbs and make sure that the netting is installed so that it doesn't entangle birds.
- 2. Place an ultra-sonic bird repeller near the light fixture. Ultra-sonic products aren't audible to humans. If you go this route, choose a device with a built-in motion sensor, so it only goes off when the birds approach.
- 3. Hang something scary, such as fake owls, fake snakes or iridescent tape, near the fixture. These frighten the birds away, and they are particularly effective when combined with ultra-sonic devices. Yes, they are garish and ugly, but they are safe.
- 4. Apply a surface repeller to the light fixture. These include bird spikes, which make it impossible for large birds to land on a surface, (but which, as you have found out, don’t work very well with small birds). There are also gels and sprays, which have an unpleasant taste or odor to birds. If you use a gel or spray, make sure it is nonflammable, nontoxic to birds and safe to use near light bulbs, before you apply it.
Keep experimenting until you find what works for these birds in this location. With luck they will move to a nearby tree (or the neighbor’s porch) and you can enjoy them from afar.
### About Oswego County Humane Society
We provide services to promote and strengthen the human-animal bond through fostering-to-adoption programs, spay/neuter clinics, and humane education. The Oswego County Humane Society is designated under IRS code 501(c)3 as a charitable organization: 161586001 and registered with the New York State Charities Bureau: 06-70-81. Our registration number with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is RR239.