Sparrowhawk, Accipter nissus, in long grass, Cheshire, UK

Bird deterrents and scarers

We have accumulated information on deterrents that people tell us they have tried with some success to help.

Our thoughts on deterrents

As a conservation organisation, the RSPB is not generally involved in deterring and scaring birds or other animals. However, we appreciate that in some circumstances people can have problems.

These pages aim to explain these deterrents, how they work and what they deter. Research for the RSPB has shown that Catwatch, an ultrasonic cat deterrent, reduces cat visits into gardens by a third. The deterrent effect also appeared to increase with time, suggesting cats can learn to avoid gardens where the devices are active

It is important to remember that no deterrent is 100 per cent effective in all situations. The effectiveness depends, among others, on the individual animal and its past experiences, what exactly attracts the animal, and what alternatives the animal has to move to.

There are animals which people, quite justifiably, try to keep out of their gardens. Some of these, like the domestic cat, are not native, but have been introduced here by people. There are many methods which can be tried to keep these animals out of a garden.

There are many birds, such as sparrowhawks and starlings, that people do not like to have in their gardens, either because they simply don't like them, find them to be a nuisance, or perceive these birds being harmful to other birds in some way. These birds are all a natural and integral part of the bird fauna of the British Isles, and rather than deterring them, they should be accepted and enjoyed as such. 

If one attracts birds into a garden, it is not possible to pick and choose those species one likes. Sooner or later a full cross-section of species that live in the area will visit the garden.

These pages only deal with deterrents in garden context. For problems in agricultural situations and goose related problems, the relevant Government Agriculture Department will be able to advise. Agricultural bird deterrents are in most cases unacceptable for use in gardens, almost regardless of the size of the garden, because of the nuisance they cause to the neighbourhood.

Visible and audible deterrents for use on farmland and other open space situations away from housing are made by a number of companies. It is also worth a note that these deterrents are not species specific, but would deter any bird from within the effective range.

Sparrowhawk, Accipter nissus, in long grass, Cheshire