A Review of Visual Bird Control Devices

We Do The Research - You Make The Choice...

Visual bird control devices include scarecrows, reflecting tape, predator decoys, kites, balloons and lights.

The theory is that these bird control devices create a unique visual stimulus that will either startle the birds or they will feel endangered.

Some products combine both visual and auditory stimuli. It is also thought that birds can detect color.


Scarecrows are one of the oldest visual bird control devices that have been used for birds . The more realistic to a human that its face and shape are, the more effective scarecrows are likely to be. Painting scarecrows a bright color can also help. However, birds can quickly get accustomed to it and thus not a threat. Scarecrows that move in the wind tend to be more effective than immobile ones.

Another model is an inflatable, human shaped bag that is placed on a battery-powered compressor or electric fan.

How to make a scarecrow

How To Make A Scarecrow


Scarecrows are inexpensive to construct and can be used in combination with other deterrents. Their long-term effectiveness is poor. They are best used where only temporary control is needed.

Reflectors and Reflecting Tape

Reflecting tape is an elastic tape with a silver metal layer coated on one side and a colored resin on the other. The iridescent material shimmers and shines in the sunlight, disorienting and confusing any bird that catches a glimpse.

It also creates a metallic noise as it flaps in the wind, adding an additional threatening sound to keep pest birds away. Useful for fields and gardens.

The tape has been proven to be successful in deterring birds, when suspended above crops in parallel rows.

Bird Repellent Tape

More Info on Bird Repellent Tape

High winds may also increase its effectiveness, by increasing the noise it makes.

An agricultural study in 1990 showed the tape was more successful than cannons and scarecrows in reducing geese from grain fields. Reflecting tape was found to be ineffective in deterring birds from ripening blueberries.


Reflectors are easy to set up and move to different locations. Improved effectiveness is found when used with other devices, such as scarecrows.

Pretend Predators

These visual bird control devices are designed to look like a predator – usually an owl, hawk or coyote. Birds have a strong biological basis for avoiding predators.

Models vary from very poor to very life-like imitations. One very bad example is that plastic owl, commonly used on buildings to deter pigeons, sparrows and swallows. The model must be realistic, or birds will very quickly ignore it. Sometimes, models of predators will actually attract birds. Blackbirds and crows tend to be attracted to owls!


Predator models are inexpensive and easy to set up. They tend to be limited in their effectiveness, however moving them around helps. They are an option for short-term needs. Birds will eventually learn that the model is not the real thing and therefore, not a threat. 

More Info on Bird Decoys

Hawk Kites and Balloons

Hawk Kites and Balloons

Hawk kites are a mobile version of the predator visual bird control devices. These kites are tethered to the ground or suspended from helium balloons or poles to keep them aloft.

Hawk kites work on the premise that the birds will flee an area where there is perceived danger. Unfortunately after a while the bird realizes there is no threat, and then the kite is no longer effective.


Easy to set up, and can be moved easily. Kites and balloons have practical limitations. Could deflate and high winds and rain could cause havoc. Some effectiveness but recommend to use with other complimentary devices.

More Info on Kites: Owl Decoy


Bird Strobe Light

Lights are used to repel birds, using flashing, rotating, strobe and/or search lights. It is thought that they are a novel stimulus and thus birds avoid them. Lights tend to be most effective in dark buildings.


Lights are easy to set up and require little maintenance. Most effective for deterring certain birds in buildings at night.

More Info on Bird Strobe Lights

Return from Visual Bird Control Devices to Bird Control

Return From Visual Bird Control Devices to A Home for Wild Birds Home

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