Having birds nesting and roosting in your barn can be a nuisance. From mess and damage to safety concerns, preventing birds from occupying your barn is often desirable. There are a number of effective deterrents and exclusion methods to humanely keep birds out of your barn.
Why Do Birds Enter and Nest in Barns?
To understand how to deter birds from your barn, first look at what draws them in:
- Barns offer cavities for nesting and roosting.
- Protection from predators and bad weather.
- Quiet, dimly lit spaces away from activity.
- Opportunity for birds to establish nests.
- Straw, hay and wood shavings for building nests.
- Mud and water also available.
- Existing nests attract more birds.
- May return year after year out of habit.
By understanding birds are seeking shelter, seclusion and materials, we can block these attractants. Combined with exclusionary devices, birds can be prevented from settling in.
Potential Problems Caused by Birds in Barns
If allowed to colonize and nest in your barn, birds can lead to a number of frustrating issues:
- Chewed wiring, insulation and wood.
- Corrosion from feces on metal and equipment.
Livestock Health Risks
- Spread of pathogens via feces and feathers.
- Increased parasites like mites, ticks and lice.
- Droppings on floors, beams and ladders.
- Can cause falls and injury.
Mess and Odor
- Accumulation of feces, feathers, eggshells and debris.
- Ammonia odor from urine.
Noise and Activity
- Squawking, chirping and fluttering, especially at night.
- Disruptive to livestock and people working.
Keeping birds out in the first place prevents these problems and results in a cleaner, quieter, safer barn environment.
Types of Birds that Enter Barns
The most common bird species that try to nest and roost in barns include:
- Sparrows – House and barn sparrows.
- Starlings – European starlings.
- Swallows – Barn swallows.
- Pigeons – Rock doves.
- Phoebes – Eastern phoebes.
- Swifts – Chimney swifts.
- Woodpeckers – Downy and hairy woodpeckers.
- Owls – Barn owls.
- Vultures – Turkey vultures.
These species are attracted to the structures and conditions they find in and around typical barns. Deterring them involves understanding their behaviors and entry points.
Physical Bird Deterrents for Barns
Physical deterrents can be installed on and around the barn to keep birds out:
- Covers openings birds could enter or nest in.
- Polyethylene or nylon netting with 1-inch mesh blocks access.
Metal Spikes and Coils
- Deter perching on ledges, beams, roof peaks.
- Stainless steel spikes or coil springs make surface uninviting.
- Small mesh wire over vents, openings and rafters.
- 1⁄2 or 1⁄4 inch mesh excludes birds but allows airflow.
Electronic Bird Repellers
- Motion-activated devices emit sounds, lights and spray mist.
- Deter birds without harming them.
- Foil, reflective tape, old CDs create glints of light and motion.
- Startles and distracts birds from settling in.
Physical barriers and deterrents make a barn less appealing and accessible to problem bird species seeking shelter.
Additional Ways to Keep Birds Out of Barns
Along with physical exclusion methods, a few additional bird deterrent techniques include:
- Remove food sources like spilled grain or pet food.
- Block potential nesting spots like crevices and cavities.
- Use window screening or mesh on exterior vents.
- Install barn fans to disrupt roosting with moving air.
- Keep lights on motion sensors to startle loafing birds.
- Use owl or hawk decoys to scare pest birds.
- Apply non-toxic bird gel repellent on beams and ledges.
- Keep vegetation trimmed around barn to reduce cover.
- Seal gaps and holes in exterior walls with caulk or wood.
A multi-tiered approach combining physical exclusion, removal of attractants, and harassment will discourage birds from inhabiting your barn and support ongoing prevention.
Tips for Deterring Specific Types of Birds
Certain control measures are better suited for specific problem bird species:
Swallows and Swifts
- Netting over nesting sites like beams and rafters.
- Closing exterior vents except when needed.
- Removing mud nest starts as soon as observed.
Sparrows and Starlings
- Bird netting over openings and roosting locations.
- Metal spikes on ledges and roof peaks.
- Owl or hawk decoys.
- Covering windows, openings, and cages with wire mesh.
- Installing motion-activated frightening devices.
- Applying bird repellent gel on rafters and boxes.
- Placing mesh or netting over cavities.
- Using noisemakers and reflective deterrents.
- Installing woodpecker feeders away from barn.
Tailoring tactics to specific problem birds leads to better prevention. Correctly identifying species informs approaches.
Frequently Asked Questions about Deterring Barn Birds
Here are some common questions about keeping birds out of barns:
Are ultrasonic bird repellers effective?
Ultrasonic devices are generally not effective on birds as they cannot hear the high frequencies. Look for frightening tools using sounds, lights, or mists instead.
Will mothballs or ammonia deter birds from barns?
No, birds have a poor sense of smell so these strong scents do not work well. Physical exclusion is better than scents.
Is it illegal to remove bird nests from my barn?
Yes, active nests with eggs or young cannot be removed legally without a permit. Nests can be removed once birds have permanently left the site after nesting season.
When is the best time to instal bird deterrents in my barn?
Exclusion devices like netting are best installed in late winter before spring nesting season gets underway. This prevents birds from establishing nests.
Are there hazards to me or livestock from bird deterrents?
Some methods like netting, spikes and repellent gels must be used cautiously around people and livestock. Read product instructions carefully before installing.
Will barn swallows return to the same site each year?
Yes, barn swallows are very site loyal and will come back to previous nesting sites year after year if able to access. Sealing off nest sites is key.
Deterring birds from settling into your barn involves understanding what draws them in along with implementing effective exclusion and harassment techniques. Physical barriers like bird netting and metal spikes make access difficult while frightening devices and falcon decoys help create an unwelcoming environment. Strategically applying tailored deterrents to specific problem bird species provides optimal prevention. With some effort and diligence, property damage, health hazards and nuisance issues from birds in barns can be significantly reduced or eliminated. A bird-free barn results in cleaner, healthier conditions for humans, livestock, and stored materials.