Are you wondering, "Can birds smell?" and "What smell deters birds?" Yes, some home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, peppermint, and chili pepper flakes may have a small repelling effect on birds. But nothing comes close to how birds hate the smell of the food grade ingredient, Methyl Anthranilate.
At Bird B Gone, our team of bird control experts often encounter questions like "What smells do birds hate?" or "Can birds smell?" We understand repelling birds with aromatic repellents can be confusing. That's why we've crafted this article to provide you with clear and friendly insights.
In this blog we will cover the following topics:
- Can Birds Smell?
- What Smells are Birds Attracted To?
- What Smells Do Birds Hate?
- Proven Bird Repellent Smell Birds Hate
- Home Remedies
Can Birds Smell?
Birds can smell. In fact, birds pick up on a lot of smells. Here are a few remarkable examples to illustrate the point:
- Scientists studying pigeons have discovered that the birds’ heart rates increase every single time they are exposed to scented air.
- Seabirds can detect the odor released when krill eat phytoplankton, microscopic organisms and a major source of food for krill. This smell acts as a map of the ocean’s surface showing birds where to find their next meal.
More and more research is being done every year to learn about birds and their sense of smell. Discovering what smells attract birds and what smells drive them away, provides experts with new and exciting information to improve bird control strategies for homeowners and professionals.
What Smells Do Birds Like?
While the specific smells that appeal to birds will vary distinctly by species, two very general categories of enticing smells are common among birds.
- Bird Poop & Nests. Birds are known to be attracted to their own droppings and areas with evidence of nesting. The jury is still out on whether this is directly related to smell, but the evidence that birds are attracted to pheromones in nests and droppings is very clear.
- The Smell of Food. Birds love the smell of food or at least the smell of stuff that indicates the presence of food. Not necessarily human food, as we’ll discuss later, but bird food.
With this knowledge in hand, a few principles for successful bird control can be established:
- Clean-Up All Signs of Bird Poop & Nests. Always thoroughly clean the area and remove all evidence of bird infestation. Where there are droppings, there will be birds. The first step of any bird control plan must be to clean and disinfect.
- Remove All Signs of Food. You won’t be able to eliminate all sources of food, especially if what you need to protect is a garden, restaurant, or agricultural setting, but, where possible, remove what you can. Keep trash emptied, clean and buss outdoor tables frequently, and post signs asking folks to not feed the birds.
What Smell Do Birds Hate?
Now that we've covered scents that attract birds, we can now cover the scents and smells birds do not like to be around. We’ve separated these into two categories, the first being home remedies and the second being proven bird repellent smells.
A quick internet search on “what smells do birds hate” will reveal a variety of fragrant substances that are thought to keep the birds away. These “home remedies” include the following:
- Apple cider vinegar (No surprise here; according to Google, this stuff can do just about anything.)
- Essential oils
- Chili pepper flakes
- Grape Kool-Aid (Yes, Kool-Aid BUT it must be GRAPE! Keep this in mind as you read on.)
Do Home Remedies Really Stop Birds?
Here’s the truth. There is some evidence that birds don’t like the smell of these substances and you might experience limited success with these methods.
You’ll find a variety of ideas for disseminating these smells including soaking cotton balls with them, sprinkling grape Kool-Aid powder or mixing several packs into a spray bottle and misting the area with your concoction.
However, the following important caveats apply:
- It’s difficult to get these substances in concentrations that will be truly effective. It takes a lot of peppermint oil, chili pepper, or Grape Kool-Aid to have any real effect.
- You need to reapply often. Maybe even daily. A handful of cotton balls soaked in vinegar or peppermint might repel birds, but only for a day or two until the smell dissipates. The same goes for your homemade spray.
Making these home remedies of smells that keep birds away effective for long periods of time requires quantities, concentrations, and reapplications that simply aren’t practical for most peoples. To be quite honest, you might be wasting your time and money on some of these methods.
This is exactly why you might find the following section a bit more appealing.
The Proven Repellent Smell Birds Hate
To be effective, aromatic bird repellent smells need to meet the following criteria:
- Be a substance that’s proven to repel birds.
- Be easy to disperse and wick the smell
- Be safe and inoffensive for people in the area
- Be long lasting so frequent reapplication is not required
If grape Kool-Aid caught your attention earlier, here’s the reason why. Methyl anthranilate (MA) is the answer. MA is a natural substance found in concord grapes.
It’s what gives foods and drinks, like Kool-Aid, their distinctive “grape” flavor and smell. But for birds, it’s a bit like pepper spray in that it irritates their noses and throats. So, when they smell it, they stay away.
Modern MA technology has led to the creation of a variety of aromatic bird repellents that are effective and easy to use. MA has been used in the bird management industry for years, but up until recently, it hasn’t been available to the public in an easy-to-use form.
You can now find MA in aromatic repellents, such as Bird-Out, that can be placed in strategic locations to passively wick the smell for weeks or months at a time with no additional intervention. Best of all, MA is perfectly safe. It’s what’s used in food, so it’s harmless to humans, your pets, other animals, and the birds themselves.
Who would have thought the active ingredient used for grape flavoring and perfumes would have such a profound impact on repelling birds!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this: birds can smell and they do not like the smell of MA. If you’ve got a bird problem, including a product that includes MA as part of your control strategy is a good idea. In some situations, an MA product may be sufficient, but it’s also easy to incorporate additional bird control products for added success.
Bird B Gone carries all the bird control solutions you need to eliminate your pest bird problem. Contact a member of our team to discuss how we can assist in creating a bird free environment at your home.