Whether you call it a balcony, patio, porch, deck, stoop, terrace, garden, or courtyard, having your own outdoor space at home provides a chance to get a breath of fresh air and relax on a pleasant day.
No matter if you have a tiny balcony just big enough for a few plants or one large enough to host a party, if you like to relax outdoors, you’ve probably taken advantage of having your own little outdoor nook to spend time in.
Some people keep it simple with just a couple of chairs to relax and feel the breeze, while others have a full décor scheme worthy of Instagram envy. Whatever your personal preferences, you want to be able to enjoy your little slice of nature without any hassles.
Nature, however, may have other ideas. Birds also love patios, balconies, porches, decks, and terraces. Birds may be attracted to your décor, think that your patio furniture is comfy, make snacks out of your plants, or find a cozy spot to build a nest and start a family.
Maybe you’re an avid birdwatcher and you enjoy visits from your feathered friends. But, whether you love birds or not, bird visitors mean bird poop. And that can become a nuisance when you’re ready to step outside and enjoy the fresh air on your balcony.
Birds can wreak havoc on your peaceful outdoor escape and your health. Here we’ll discuss the potential dangers of bird droppings and what to do if you find a mess on your balcony.
Know the Health Hazards
You might think that bird poop isn’t that bad of a nuisance, but the truth is that birds can carry over 60 diseases, some of which can be fatal, according to Medical News Today.
Your local pigeons and sparrows probably aren’t carrying the avian flu, but they can carry potentially fatal diseases such as:
- E. coli: a toxic bacteria that causes intense digestive tract issues such as food poisoning
- Salmonellosis: caused by toxic Salmonella bacteria, with intense digestive tract issues such as food poisoning
- Cryptococcosis: a fungal infection that invades the lungs, with pneumonia and meningitis as symptoms
- Candidiasis: a fungal yeast infection that can cause thrush in the mouth when inhaled
- Histoplasmosis: another fungal infection that affects the lungs, potentially causing acute respiratory distress if left untreated
From bacteria to fungal infections, bird poop can carry unseen threats to your health, and those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable.
Birds can also carry around parasites and other pests, such as bed bugs and chicken mites. These critters can invade your home, causing health problems and diseases of their own.
Given the health hazards, you may want to view your local birds from a distance and take steps to keep them from resting long enough to leave droppings behind. It can be an unsightly mess and embarrassing if you have guests.
Everyone hates sitting down in their favorite patio lounger only to discover their clothes smeared with unsanitary bird droppings.
1 – Deter the Birds
Luckily, there are many ways to humanely deter local birds from perching on your balcony. Some birds are more adventurous than others and may require more than one method to keep them at bay.
Many of these methods will require regular upkeep.
- Keeping the area free of debris and bugs
- Placing bird feeders away from sitting areas
- Placing bird spikes
- Setting out faux predators
- Using sound deterrents
- Placing screens
- Using motion-activated water sprinklers
- Placing reflective surfaces
2 – Keep the Area Clean
Birds are attracted to spaces with overgrown trees and shrubs to hide and nest in; bits of thread, string, or paper that they can use to build nests; and areas with an ample supply of bugs for snacking.
Make sure that trees, shrubs, and any landscaping near your balcony are well trimmed and maintained. This will provide a less inviting space for the birds to flock and bugs to flourish.
Regularly check your property for trash and fraying fabrics on flags or furniture that the birds may pick apart for nesting material. A regular pest control regimen to reduce bugs will also help reduce the birds’ supply of snacks.
3 – Move the Bird Feeder
If you have a bird feeder or bird bath, move these features away from your balcony and place them on the other side of your house. If that isn’t possible, consider getting rid of them entirely.
Birds will form a habit of coming to your balcony for food and a bath, leaving poop where you like to relax.
4 – Put up Bird Spikes
Bird spikes are best used for deterring larger birds such as pigeons, crows, and grackles. If smaller birds, such as swallows, are your frequent visitors, this method won’t be as effective.
Bird spikes are rows of upward-pointing spikes that discourage birds from perching and nesting. Smaller birds may still find room between the spikes to perch and nest, but these can be a good option for larger birds if you’re having trouble keeping birds off your balcony railings.
5 – Install Faux Predators
Small birds are afraid of bigger birds, and you can use that to your advantage. Installing an owl or hawk decoy will scare off most common backyard birds.
If you opt for a still bird decoy, your local birds will eventually figure out that it isn’t real when they realize that it never moves. You can move the decoy around to new spots, but if you have a small space, choose a moving decoy instead.
When your moving decoy turns its head, birds will startle and won’t want to take any chances of being eaten. These can be battery- or solar-powered, and very effective.
You can also ward off birds with “predator eyes,” which are designed to resemble the eyes of a hungry predator in wait. These inflatable eyeballs can be hung up just about anywhere and will benefit from natural movement from outdoor breezes.
6 – Make Some Noise
Noise will scare off birds too, and there are plenty of noisy bird deterrent machines to choose from. These motion-sensor devices are mountable outside, battery- or solar- powered, and some also have flashing lights. A few models require an electrical outlet.
Some make a variety of noises, such as hawk screeches and dog barks. For a quieter option, some models emit a high-frequency sound that is barely perceptible to humans but will bother birds and other critters.
This method has mixed reviews, as some birds are more noise-tolerant than others. The birds may get used to the sound and ignore it while they sit on their favorite perch on your porch. And birds in already noisy environments such as big cities may be immune.
7 – Screen it in
If you have the option to screen your balcony in, this can be one of the most effective deterrents and it keeps bugs out too! Consider the space above your screens where birds can perch and eliminate those perches if possible.
Bird poop on your porch screens ruins your view, is not easy to clean, and presents health hazards.
8 – Spray Some Water
If you have a yard or garden next to your balcony, motion-activated sprinklers are another option. Sudden movement of the sprinklers (and being doused with water) will startle birds.
These devices come in battery- or solar-power options. Some sprinkler designs require a garden hose connection and some can be hooked up to a gallon of water instead. The range of motion detection and sprinkler trajectory varies from model to model.
Sprinklers ward off birds and other critters, and water your garden at the same time. Placement of the sprinklers is important. They should be directed at a spot where the birds frequent and not in a spot that may over-water a delicate plant.
As with other scare tactics, the birds may get used to the sprinklers over time and resume old habits of perching on your balcony.
9 – Reflect the Sun
Birds don’t like bright flashes of light, so reflective items can be effective in scaring off birds on a sunny day. This method is less effective on some types of birds, such as sparrows, and they won’t work well on a cloudy day, so you’ll want to have a secondary method in place too.
Reflective products that move are the most effective because they give off flashes of light in inconsistent patterns. You can put reflective “scare tape” on some of your existing patio décor that moves in the wind, such as flags, pinwheels, and windchimes, or you can buy some specific bird repellents such as mirror owls and reflective spirals.
Find the Right Combination
Finding the combination of methods that works best for your balcony space and your local birds will likely take some trial and error, and it’s important to note that no one method is going to work on all types of birds.
Whatever methods you choose, you may have to periodically switch things up if your local birds get used to your repellents.
Prevention is important because allowing bird droppings to accumulate on your balcony is a health hazard. Once droppings have landed, they quickly dry.
Dried bird poop then breaks down into dust particles, which can be carried into your home through open doors, windows, and even the HVAC system. Keeping your patio free of bird poop accumulation is important for maintaining a healthy home environment.
Keeping it Clean
Allowing birds the opportunity to build a nest and set up residence will result in an accumulation of droppings that will require frequent cleaning and can leave stubborn stains on siding and concrete.
You’ll be exposed to the potential diseases every time that you have to clean up after your unwanted patio guests.
If you already have a mess of bird droppings on your balcony, take these precautions during cleanup to limit your exposure to potential diseases:
- Immunocompromised or ill people should not attempt to clean up droppings.
- Don’t sweep up droppings as it sends dust particles capable of spreading diseases in the air.
- Wear protective gear that you can sanitize or dispose of after cleanup. Gloves and a disposable mask or dust respirator are a must. Waterproof boots or disposable shoe covers should be worn as well to prevent tracking residue into your home on your shoes.
- Don’t eat or drink while you’re cleaning up. This goes for smoking, too, or anything else that could increase your chances of inhaling or ingesting particles of bird feces.
- If you find any dead birds, which is common near nests as baby birds may fall out, never handle them without protective gloves. Remember that their feathers can host parasites as well and you don’t want bed bugs hitching a ride into your home.
How to Clean
Gather your cleaning supplies and your protective gear. For this cleanup, you’ll need a spray bottle of soapy water, scrub brush, paper towels, trash bags, and a cleaning solution of 10% bleach.
Don the protective gear and get started by spraying droppings down with soapy water. This step helps to prevent airborne dust particles. Have plenty of this solution to continue spraying down as you clean.
Scrub, spray, and wipe up the droppings with paper towels and place contaminated towels in a trash bag. Repeat until your balcony is clean and free of bird droppings.
Keep your mask on until cleanup is complete. Sanitize your cleaning tools and non-disposable protective gear with the 10% bleach solution. Your disposable gear and mask go in the trash bag.
Seal and double-bag it, and put in an outdoor trash bin, not inside your home.
Don’t Contaminate Your Neighbors
Many people may have a patio or balcony in a shared space or in a multi-family building such as an apartment. Especially if your patio is above the ground floor, it’s important not to wash the droppings off your patio by hose or bucket of water.
This creates runoff that can carry diseases to your neighbor’s balconies and put them at risk.
Enjoy Your Balcony
Now that you know some effective strategies to keep birds at bay and your patio clean, you can enjoy your balcony in peace!