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May 31, 2022

Turns out an extended number of the bird family are more than happy to take a perch, or hover over your boat as though it had a flashing neon restroom sign on it.

When it comes to outwitting them, the birdbrain tends to belong to the humans.

The results, like the birds, were large and varied.

Unfortunately what seemed to work great for one boater had little effect for another, but clearly birds were a big problem.

West Marine sells 13 different items ranging from tape that starts at $5, to bird-repelling spikes ($20+), to a multi-speaker system that emits prerecorded distress calls of geese and runs on a loop every 10 minutes, for $150.

Here are some do-it-yourself ideas:

  • Stop feeding the birds. It might seem obvious but when you throw seagulls or other birds bread near your boat, they'll keep coming back.
  • Plastic owls work great for some, but problems include the owl blowing away or the birds getting used to it and coming back. One reader wrote that hanging an owl from the spreader, so it moved slightly, made it more effective.
  • Cormorants tend to like being high up (sorry, sail boaters) so one reader found covering the top of the mast with tacks stuck through sail repair tape did the trick. Before you say that's cruel, our reader pointed out it was no different from a thorny branch.
  • Stringing monofilament line on favorite boat perches has worked well for many. Just don't tangle yourself up in it, and don't let it fall overboard. Recycle if you can, and otherwise, dispose of it in covered receptacles.
  • Pinwheels, multicolored flags, and shiny string or ribbon festooned around the boat is another good tip to try.
  • Large wind-driven "rotors" work well, as do bird "spiders." They're easy to put on the hardtop, bow, or back deck, and easy to stow when it's time to use the boat.
  • A large feather duster (preferably ostrich) stuck in a box on the deck allegedly worked for one reader.
  • Got trouble with birds of the webbed feet variety? Hot sauce diluted in water on the final wash down where your unwanted guests like to walk is said to keep them off the boat. No word on whether it'll repel the visitors you want onboard, too.