It’s a situation that happens all too often: a boat owner plans to take their vessel out for a day of enjoyment, only to find it covered in bird droppings.
Bruce Donoho, owner of Bird Control Supply Company, Bird-B-Gone, says “Left unattended, bird droppings can stain surfaces, and eventually erode materials, not to mention the health risk: bacteria and parasites can also be found in bird droppings.” A high concentration of uric acid, found to be even higher in sea birds, can be to blame for the erosion. The acidity can erode materials like steel, discolor paint, and stain canvases. Taking steps to “bird proof” your boat is an investment that will save you time and money.
There are a few steps that boat owners may already be taking to help protect their investment. For example, the wax coating used on the exterior of a boat can buy an owner time before bird droppings reach the boats surface, prolonging the possibility of erosion. But how do you keep birds off of a boat in the first place? Birds prefer the highpoints on a vessel, but will also land on a protective canvas. Treating these areas with visual or physical deterrents will help encourage the birds to move on to a more suitable location. Birds rely heavily on visual clues in their environment helping with flight, the detection of predators, food sources, ect. In fact, birds have the largest eye to body ratio in the animal kingdom.
Using items on a boat which move or sway in the wind, such as the Bird Spider from Bird-B-Gone can be big help. The bird spider looks sort of like an umbrella with no vinyl… the arms move in the wind, discouraging birds from landing on the boat. Usually one or two units on a boat will be enough to keep the birds at bay, and Bird-B-Gone offers three different boat attachments: a rail mount, a boat base, and a sandbag base.
Another product similar to the Bird Spider is The Solar Repeller. The repeller is a small unit with a 5 foot rod mounted atop that continuously spins. The constant movement will ward off any nearby birds. The repeller is ideal for the bow, canvas covers, or swim platforms. Best of all the solar panel works in conjunction with rechargeable batteries, keeping the unit energized on cloudy days, and at night.
Similar to movement, visual clues such as reflective items will also keep messy birds away from your boat. Reflective deterrents such as Absolute Bird Control’s (www.absolutebirdcontrol.com) Mylar Flash Tape or Bird Free Boats (www.birdfreeboats.com) Scare Eye Diverters both use reflection to ward off birds. Strung around the boat, the reflective surfaces will have bird avoiding the area because they cannot
(Two Solar Bird Repellers)
Boat owners are no stranger to pest birds, and over the years many have come up with their own deterrent systems to keep their boats clean. Many will use a mono filament fishing line, or micro usb cable stung above the masts and spreaders to deter birds from landing. The birds do not like the instability of landing on the wire, moving on to a more inviting perch. However, monofilament will not last long, even in a moderate climate, micro usb cable is also used.
Remember to keep birds in mind when winterizing your boat too. An undisturbed boat in a marina can become a favorite perch or winter home for resident bird species. Boat houses also provide the perfect protection for a winter roost or nesting spot. Netting is a great way to block a bird from the boat house rafters. Actively checking up on your boat will help determine whether deterrents are necessary, and save you from the daunting task of cleaning off droppings come spring.
Bird deterrents are designed to discourage birds from choosing your boat as a perch. The products and techniques listed require no maintenance and are very easy to install, the best part of all: the products are humane. We share the waterfront with our feathered friends, but it doesn’t mean we have to be responsible for their mess. Taking small steps to bird proof your boat allows the boat owner to focus on their passion, boating!