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Owl Decoys... do they work?

Ray Cover

Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
Hey all,

I'm looking for an alternative to bird netting to keep the birds (and other pest) out of my garden and berry bushes.

I have seen all kinds of owl decoys and supposedly if you move them from one post to another a couple times a week they work. Have any of you tried these? If so do they work to keep birds and rabbits away?

John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6885
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
My opinion: If the animals were dumb enough to fall for it, it would probably also scare away the real owls.

I have never met anybody who claimed that it worked for them (or even helped).

Kendra Nelson

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 19
I do know that rubber snakes in your trees keep woodpeckers away, not sure if they keep all birds though.
Jeanine Gurley

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1393
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
I work at an airport and that question is one of our 'test' questions in training. Correct answer: No.

If it is birds that you are trying to scare away then harrassment is the most effective. People are often surprised to find that harrassment is much more effective than killing. The reason is that by harrassing the birds we are training them - they won't want to make the nest here next year, or use this as a rest stop during migration next year, and the same for thier offspring and so on.

The next question I have is why do you want to keep them away? What in particular is the problem?

(edited for massive typos)

1. my projects
Jeanine Gurley

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1393
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
Sorry, I missed the whole berry bushes part. I get it now .

The answer to that problem is a lot more complex. I am currently re-reading (for the third time) the Bill Mollison pamphlets that can be found at the permaculture institute site.

Netting is the easy answer but canopies are the permanent answer and I am still learning the subject so am not good at explaining it.

I ACCIDENTALLY have the almost perfect canopy at my place - I was within days of having some trees removed when I stumbled upon the canopy teachings. The proper canopy is why birds have not taken all my fruit, berries etc. (yet).
Saybian Morgan

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
I remember telling my wife when we were first dating to get a fake owl to scare the pigeons away, she pointed over to the next balcony where a fake owl was covered in pigeon shit. Bless your heart thought for hoping, I've been trying old cd's strung on a wire hung from trees, it doesn't do a dam thing but reflect lights onto the house all day and disco lights from the moon at night.
Ray Cover

Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
Thanks folks you saved me some money there I think.

Saybian Morgan

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
On the other hand one of those idiotic motion activated dancing santaclauses might do the trick, scares me, dogs, babies, and most likely birds half to death
Brad Davies

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 213
Location: Clarkston, MI
My parents had a problem with seaguls pooping all over their floating raft, well not so much the poop, but the fish bones that would be left and stepped on. My dad got a windsock/sail and hooked to a piece of conduit as a pole from the edge of the raft. The windsock looked like an eagle and worked really well, no seaguls the first year. In the spring of the 2nd year the string broke and the windsock was lost, the seaguls quickly reclaimed the spot. My dad went out and got another one, but this one was some crazy multi colored twisty thing, he replaced the string with some light chain and some fishing tackles and it's on about it's 4th year now. I would say it keeps the seagulls away 90% of the time or better. There seems to be one bird who isn't scared of the wind sock, but does seem to be scared of the BB gun for some reason. Not that my dad or I would ever shoot at a seagul, that's illegal here afterall, but shooting right next to it or as I like to say, "firing a warning shot off his bow" seems to work.

SE, MI, Zone 5b "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
~Thomas Edison
M.K. Dorje

Joined: Feb 23, 2011
Posts: 153
Location: Orgyen
I think the fake owls work better if you have a lot of real owls around your place. Nesting boxes, tall pole perches, mowing your orchard, leaving a light on near your garden/orchard and playing owl calls over the stereo are good ways to attract screech owls and barred owls. (Horned owls, too.) When you get a bunch of real owls, the other birds can't always be so sure that the owl decoys are fake. (It helps to move the fake owls around a lot, too.) Owls are great allies and some can become quite tame. In Europe, some farmers have nesting platforms in their barns for barn owls.
Harold Jons

Joined: May 16, 2012
Posts: 1
Sometimes we'd go out and take turns; me and my siblings, and just watch the plants before we figured out there were other ways to keep animals and things out of our garden. It was only a couple days, but it was funny while it lasted.

You know 'dis be a Harold.
George Lee

Joined: Mar 15, 2011
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
CD's hanging in the garden do work however...
Good hung over row'd raised beds...
I've seen birds scatter upon seeing their reflection and the flashy rays that
refract off...

South Carolina Hemp | Seed Swap via Letter | | sustainable seed co
Marianne Cicala

Joined: Aug 14, 2012
Posts: 580
Location: south central VA 7B
I did buy 2 owls that had a motion sensor that caused their heads to move. we also have real owls nesting close by. Within a week, I looked out to see birds sitting on the heads of the stupid owls, getting a good look at which berries to eat first. They did make decent target practice though~


check us out @
Rion Mather

Joined: May 31, 2012
Posts: 644
Owl decoys didn't work for me but I kept them because they are cute.

I have found that keeping plants out in the middle of the property and limiting water resources helps to prevent birds and critters from venturing to the garden. Hawks like to hunt in open spaces along a forest edge.
wayne stephen

Joined: Mar 11, 2012
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
Critters just get used to these things and desensitize when they pose no actual harm. When I was a teen I did pest control . We used two things for bird control. For pidgeons we put out corn laced with some agent that triggered a total fear frenzy in the bird. It ate and quickly flopped down wings flapping and distress cries. Other birds would swoop down to eat and see the fear filled bird and fly off. Within ten minutes the fearfilled bird recovered and flew off. A few days of this and no more birds on your building. The other item was a caulking we would put on fences around tennis courts etc, It triggered some fear response through phermones. It gave off the scent for months. The birds would swoop down and before they landed would be veering off screeching . Behavioral conditioning and totally not permaculture . It worked really good though. I only mention it because they involved a powerful negative reinforcement that decoys , pie tins , and coyote urine do not have. A prolonged and consistent noxious effect is required.

For unlimited return on all your investments - Make your deposits at 'The Entangled Bank' !

Jay C. White Cloud

Joined: Nov 05, 2012
Posts: 2413
Hi Ray,

Yes, as a former Nuisance Wildlife Control agent, and state supervisor in Pest Control...I can professionally state they work on a clear "ethological" deterrent level.


You will work harder "manually animating them" to maintain an active "flight distance" from noxious species that the effort will soon exhaust you. Not until we get "self actualising" puppets (robots) of different predatory species will we get consistent results with this modality of the "scar crow" effect.

Physical extermination (where warranted) and barriers is the only effective method in general while working in concert with other deterrents like "bone sauce" and the related "folk remedies that have good effect when done well.

Hi Wayne,

I agree with your assessment in general. The first product you mentioned was removed from the market as I know it for cause irreversible damage in some you remember the product name? The other I am either unaware of or you may have confused with the "tanglefoot" products that worked well by triggering perching and roosting birds dislike for "sticky feet" no deterrent chemical-pheromone present in the product. This product only proved useful until it became inundated with dust or detritus rendering its "stickiness" obsolete. It has been replaced by the "spiked" products that I find both aesthetically unpleasing and/or only effective on birds like pigeons, and not the smaller species.


Tim Malacarne

Joined: Feb 06, 2012
Posts: 225
Location: South central Illinois, USA

I can only say...

Our rural mailbox has been in the same spot for the whole 30 or so years we've lived here. This past Spring, for whatever reason, the blackbirds took to sitting on it, and of course, shitting on it too. My wife said, well, let's get a plastic owl, and I more-or-less scoffed at her. Well, get an owl we did, and no more birds.... IDK.... That sucker is scary, scares ME sometimes, and it's right on top of the mailbox, but dang, no birds, and no poop!
Kat Green

Joined: Oct 30, 2014
Posts: 76
I would just plant more. We share this world with our fellow creatures who are just trying to make a living too. We had better learn to get along because we are outnumbered. One for me and two for you, and one for me and two for you...
subject: Owl Decoys... do they work?