Bird deterring or scaring is the dispersal of birds using stimuli that make them uncomfortable. The majority of systems are sights or sounds connected with bird predators. Scaring is often thought by the public to be a cheap, simple, and totally effective solution to all bird problems. However, this is not at all the case. Birds are intelligent creatures that can rapidly become habituated to initially frightening sights or sounds once they realise that they pose no real threat.
There are some cheap and simple ‘scarers’ such as plastic owls. Some people believe that they can fix one of these in place on a building and it will scare away all birds for good. Dummy birds will not work like this unfortunately, though they can form part of a structured and managed strategy.
Often the most effective scaring techniques are those involving a combination of systems, both visual and audible, that are managed on an ongoing basis rather than just being placed in situ and left. The most useful techniques developed are those for moving starlings from night roosts, seagulls from loafing areas and flocks of birds from aeroplane runways. But there are also other situations where problem urban birds can be successfully dispersed, or where scaring can perform a useful part of bird management. Even in areas where scaring is used, it may still be important to proof key heavy pressure locations such as nesting sites. Scaring needs to be considered not as a free-standing technique, but as part of the integrated pest management strategy for any given site. Habitat management (e.g. removing food sources) and proofing should always be considered first.