Birds: Whether you believe in them or not, sometimes they end up in your fountain, and that can sure be inconvenient. But what can you do about it without hurting them?
1. Salt Water
The difficulty with birds is that they can be difficult to predict. Build a fountain and a birdbath right next to each other and sometimes the birds will just like the fountain more for no particular reason. When this happens, you need to think like a bird.
Why do birds like water? They need to drink it. So replace the water with something they can’t drink. Grape soda is too expensive, and you probably wouldn’t want to poison the birds anyways, but saltwater might do the job just fine.
I’ve seen people online use chlorine pills instead of just replacing the water. Please don’t do this. You will hurt the birds. Also, it might not even deter crows and other more intelligent birds from using your fountain to clean their finds.
2. Keep Pet Food Inside
What else do birds need? Food. Where can they get that from near your fountain? Your pets’ feeding bowls. It’s possible that what makes the fountain attractive to the birds is the readily available source of food nearby.
You can solve this particular problem just by having your pets eat inside. If your pets must eat outside, keep careful watch over them as they eat to make sure that birds don’t swoop in and take some of their food. If your pet food must be stored outdoors, keep it in airtight bird-proof boxes.
A lot of the items on this list have to do with the environment around your fountain. The easiest way to keep birds away from your fountain reliably is to make so that the entire space around your fountain is inhospitable to the birds.
3. Prune Trees, Mow Grass
Birds need to have shelter as well as food and water. If the grass in your yard is long or your trees have long branches, birds will see those places as viable places to build nests, and this will lead them to spend more time near your precious fountain.
Fortunately, the solution here is simple. Just keep your grass short and your trees pruned. Devoting yourself to keeping the birds from having a place to raise their young will prevent them from making their home near your fountain.
4. Fish Line
Birds are not fish, but that doesn’t mean that they like having fish line around. Put a few pieces of fish line over the top of your fountain. Birds hate having any impediments to flight, and so this will tend to drive them away.
They won’t be standing on the fish line either, since they absolutely hate the feeling of the fish line under their feet. All this combines to make your fountain a very non-bird friendly place.
The best pattern for this is a large grid. Remember, it doesn’t need to be impossible for the birds to get to the water, just awkward and difficult. The goal is just to make things inconvenient.
Birds hate the feeling of foil under their feet. It may not be viable to cover the bottom of your fountain in foil, but you might be able to cover the sides fairly thoroughly. Most birds would rather drink out of a dirty puddle than drink clean water out of a fountain where there’s foil on the sides.
6. Bird Repellent
There are some smells that birds just don’t like. Commercial bird repellent will probably do this job just fine, but you can make your own with all sorts of different home recipes.
One notable smell that will drive birds away is peppermint. If you have a way to produce a strong peppermint smell in your fountain, this is a great use for it.
You can also use a mixture of water, vinegar, and dried chili peppers. You’ll want about two dozen peppers, half a gallon of water, and 1/4 cup of either white or red vinegar. First, cut and crush up the dried peppers as much as you can. Then add the peppers and the water into an empty soda bottle.
Leave it out in the sunlight for about five days, then add the quarter cup of vinegar to the now fermented mixture. Spraying this on the plants around your yard and especially the ones near your fountain will make birds want to go somewhere else for sure. Keep using the spray until birds stop visiting.
7. Make A Scarecrow
Many kinds of birds are very stupid, so if you leave out a fake predator the birds will probably stay away. However, if you’re having problems with crows or ravens, this might not work. These kinds of birds are smart enough to see right through your lies.
You also need to take into account the fact that birds are only afraid of predators that they’ve seen. While we can’t, as of right now, interrogate any wild birds, you can probably figure out what kind of dangers the birds face based on where you live.
For instance, if you’re from the Pacific Northwest like I am, the birds will probably be afraid of eagles, but not alligators. If you’re in Florida however, gators might actually be a good move.
A good choice in a lot of places is the classic owl. Owls love eating small birds, so putting an owl statue up near your fountain is a great way to scare away those tiny cowards.
8. Ultrasonic Deterrent
There are commercial devices that you can get on the market that will scare birds away with their horrible loud noises while doing nothing to bother you.
Except that that is a lie. Birds have a similar hearing range to humans, meaning that if you want them to be able to hear the sound then you need to be able to hear it too.
This makes ultrasonic repellers difficult to use, since for them to be effective they need to be as repelling to you as they are to the birds. Let me tell you though, they are great for scaring away unwanted human visitors.
So if you have problems with both birds and salesmen, this may be a better choice than it looks. Just make sure that you have some earplugs in handy for when you want to go outside.
Another kind of ultrasonic repellent will play the sounds of the bird’s usual predators. It’s not quite as scary for unsuspecting humans, but they are very effective against birds and can be programmed to play their sounds only when there are birds around to hear them.
9. Bird Spikes
If birds can’t roost near your fountain, they probably won’t want to hang out near it. By installing bird spikes on your fences and above your patio or on the branches of your larger trees, you can prevent birds from wanting to hang out anywhere around your fountain.
Bird spikes won’t work on tiny birds like hummingbirds or sparrows though, so if that’s your problem you’ll have to use one of the other items on this list.
10. Get A Cat
This one strays dangerously close to harming birds territory. However, it is true that cats sometimes like to kill birds and other pest animals. If the cat does like to attack birds, it will only take a few incidents for most birds to stop coming around for fear of the cat.
However, cats won’t distinguish between different kinds of bird, and even if that cat is well fed they’ll still have an insatiable bloodlust for those poor feathery creatures. The big problem with this method is that there is no way to prevent your cat from killing birds, and in my opinion that is a bad thing.
Mitigating Bird Damage
This will do absolutely nothing to make the birds leave. However, it may be a more viable long term solution for you to just learn to live in harmony with the birds that like to stay near your fountain. There are a few ways that you can make birds less of a nuisance to your water feature.
One of the biggest problems that birds can cause on to your fountain is the way that they can clog up your intake. This can be made much less of a problem by putting an easily cleaned grate over your pumps intake, which you can simply siphon off every once in a while.
You can also make friends with some kinds of birds. Crows and ravens can remember faces remarkably well, and if you’re kind to them then they and all of their flock will be kind right back to you. Given, their kindness may involve them bringing you gifts that you may find distasteful. But that seems like a small price to pay for friendship.
This strategy may be a little too much to maintain if you have difficult to control pets or children though, so it is important to weigh all of your options carefully before making a decision as to what you should do about these birds.