About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Birds pecking holes in screens

I have a neighbor who had asked me if I knew why birds might peck holes into one of their (bedroom) window screens.  I haven’t been able to find an answer yet.  There are holes only at the bottom of it, and in no other screens at their house.  It is very near a small tree (or very lrg. bush) they have.  So the window doesn’t seem to get a lot of sun in it throughout the day, if that makes any difference. Thanks for any input.

Finch collecting nesting material
I've never heard of birds pecking away at screens. He could be looking at his reflection behind the screen or using the screen as nesting material. However, you need to repair the hole in the screen as soon as possible and then find a way to deter the bird from returning.

Strategies to Control Bird Damage
Unfortunately, there is no easy guaranteed solution. So with that being said, try the following strategies:

1. Check for insects. Birds feed on insects in wood.
2. Cover or repair all damage as soon as possible.
3. Scare the bird away using one or more of the following:
  • Mylar tape: Wild Birds Unlimited has some Mylar tape (1-inch-wide strips) flutter ribbon you can hang in the area. If you don't have Mylar, hang tinfoil, aluminum pie plates, or old CDs or DVDs.
  • Mylar balloons: The dollar stores usually have shiny Mylar balloons you can hang in the area. The helium filled, shiny balloons will scare the birds away with their motion.
  • Garden hose: One animal damage controller recommends placing a garden hose with a sprinkler set at an angle to reach where the bird is pecking.
  • Attack spider: This is a relatively new (2003) technique. A large spider drops down at the first knock to scare birds through sight and motion. These can be found at Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing and party stores now. It also scares little trick or treaters. Bonus!
  • Rubber snake: I’ve had some customers report back that a little rubber snake scares the birds away.

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Anonymous said...

I am an eye witness who observed a bright yellow finch taking pieces of my fiberglass screen to use as nesting material. He had taken two inches of my screen before we noticed, since we do not open that window very often. He has also made several small holes in other nearby window screens in the upper level of our home. We will try your suggestions regarding scaring him away, since we have just repaired the damaged screens.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't believe it if it weren't happening to us. They have unraveled a good 4". Perhaps I will try to modify their behavior before spending money on a new screen. I appreciate the suggestions very much! -Tennessee

Anonymous said...

House sparrows are doing this to our screens now. I have sprayed it with Bitter Apple. I'll try the aluminum foil. Deb Lovett

Anonymous said...

The holes in my screen is now large enough for the birds to come through, or, for the cat to fall out if it goes after the birds. I'm here with the window open, and a squirt bottle in hand -- but clearly this goes on often and I can't always be here -- and it's only 40 degrees outside. I assume the birds are adding insulation to their nests for the winter time. I'm torn between replacing it, and maybe having the same thing happen to the new one, or leaving it -- which means eventually I'll have all the things coming into the house that a screen was meant to prevent. Rubber snake and mylar -- I'll give it a shot. If it works, then I guess I replace the screen and keep the snake & mylar.

It's a hell of a thing.....