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How to Get Rid of Birds on Boats

9 Different Techniques to Keep Your Boat Bird Free

Seagulls may have a holiday like appearance because most people associated them with the seaside and coastal areas. Sure, they are nice to see and hear when you are on holiday. But when you actually live on the coast, the pesky seagulls hanging around your boat can cause a lot of hassle. Why? Pretty much everything on your boat is great for perching. It is also docked in the right place – right on the coast, where a bird might be looking for a resting place. Now, learning how to get rid of birds on boats can be a bit tricky, but definitely not impossible.

Losing a bird is a must if you actually care about your boat. Otherwise, you will end up cleaning droppings every single day. The canvas will look terrible and the acidic profile of droppings will affect the paint as well. As if all these were not enough, the smell is difficult to deal with. On the other hand, you should also accept the fact that birds are perfectly normal around such areas. There are other birds that may hang around and not just the seagull with its long legs– ospreys, crows, pigeons and the list can go on.

Whether your boat has already been targeted and you need to find out how to get rid of seagulls on boats or you simply want a seagull deterrent for boats to prevent this situation, there are a few tips and tricks to get the job done. Other than that, it is worth noting that preventing the problem is much easier than actually dealing with it. Now, what are the best options out there and how likely are they to actually deter birds?

Get a crouching toy cat on your boat

Toy cats are some great bird scarers for boats. After all, the cat is one of the primary enemies of the bird. You do not need a living cat to jump around and actually chase that bird. Instead, the simple sight of a furry thing will make the bird think twice before coming over. The more realistic the cat is, the better. You do not need a simple plush toy, but something furry that actually looks real. Place it on the dock and any bird will see it as a threat.

Now, a bird is not stupid at all. In fact, a bird is quite intelligent. While the toy cat will work wonders in the beginning, it is not a permanent solution. The bird will come closer and closer. It will get more courage as it sees the cat is not moving. Eventually, birds will come very close and realize that your toy is harmless. To prevent this issue, make sure you change the position of the cat every few days.

Get a flapping bird scare tape

A flapping scare tape is an excellent bird control product when not sure how to stop birds from pooping on my boat or just coming over. There are more benefits associated with this tape, which can also be used for homes or porches. They usually come in rolls. Get a role and spread it over the most affected areas, such as the radar, spreaders or railings. The primary goal of this tape is to flap in the air, which will look quite dangerous for birds attempting to perch.

The scare tape works in two different directions. Most of these things are based on reflective materials. Birds have very sensitive eyesight, so they are likely to be affected. They hate shiny materials. If you look at it this way, any kind of shiny material will work, but the scare tape will also flap in the air, enhancing the threatening effect. Most of these things come in long rolls that can easily exceed 100 feet, so you can cover the whole boat.

Get some squirt guns

A squirt gun can be quite cheap – more guns will cost you more, but they are totally worth it. They are extremely efficient as they hit the birds with squirts of water as soon as they try to approach. They are enhanced with motion sensors, so they know precisely when to hit. You would need plenty of them to cover the whole boat, so just focus on the most exposed areas, such as the sitting area. Birds would still hang around safe places though.

Such water blasters are not specifically built for sailboats, Instead, they are just as common for gardens or porches. But then, they will get the job done. Most of them can detect movement dozens of feet away and can spray water for a few seconds. They will not kill birds, but they will send a threatening warning that there is no room for them on your boat. Just like you have probably guessed already, they need to be connected to a water source.

Birds on boats

Get a Nixalite net for bird control

A net is probably the best bird deterrent for boats when not sure to keep birds off boat canopy. It's an excellent bird control product to scare off an osprey. The net is large enough and should be able to cover the whole exposed part of your boat. It obviously depends on how large your boat is – if it is too large, simply get more nets. They look like meshes. Just make sure to tighten the net vastly, so wind won't lift it of your boat. You have other options too, such as thick tarpaulins. However, while they leave nothing inside, they are not breathable – they are handy against bad weather though.

Just like the squirt guns, the net does not necessarily have to be designed for boats. Instead, you can find such things in the home improvement and outdoor areas of stores. These nets are mostly suitable for lawns and patios, but they make excellent options for boats as well. You might need to invest in some strings as well – after all, you need to tie the respective net across the boat. Small improvements will make excellent results to keep birds and their droppings away from your boat.

Use a mild zapper to keep those birds of the boat

Zappers are quite common when struggling to keep that darn bird off the boat. It is just as common for homes. Such a shocker is not meant to kill birds. You have to keep it on a minimum setting though. You do not want to end up with dead birds all over the deck. Instead, the zapper will slightly shock birds as they land on the boat. These things are normally made of some flat strips and a conductor. Place the system wherever birds like to perch and you will teach them a good lesson.

A bird is an intelligent creature. Some of them will get zapped and soon enough, they will stop bothering you. There are lots of different kits on the market and each of them comes with its own particularities. These strips come in rolls and can measure more than 30 feet. They have thin aluminum wires and can connect to rechargeable power sources. Materials are usually weatherproof and meant to be used outdoors, so there are no risks involved. Just be careful when you remove the device. You don't want to get 'shocked' yourself!

Get some microfilament strings as bird scarers for boats

Not even the best boat bird deterrent will work wonders for all the birds out there. Bird control isn't an exact science. Therefore, it pays off implementing a few different techniques simultaneously. For example, a cat toy may work for a while, but some birds can ignore it and hang around the spreaders and mast. They will not get anywhere near it, so the cat will not really help then. The height is an advantage for birds – not even a real cat would be able to reach them. So, what do you do for these areas then?

Seagulls tend to prefer heights because they can see the surroundings. They can spot any sources of food, as well as predators from all directions. Microfilament strings are great then, as they can scare birds away regardless of where they are. You are basically making the place unavailable for birds. When there is no place to land for their legs, they will obviously stop coming and stay away. Install strings in different patterns, but zig zag patterns seem to be the most efficient ones, as they cover a wider area. This technique does not necessarily require microfilament strings. Any type of string will work wonders, as long as it can take different weather elements and pecking.

Rely on reflective mirrors to keep birds off your dock

Any type of reflective surface will scare birds away and confuse them. They will not want to risk anything, so they will clearly avoid the area. Reflective stuff like spiral rods or mirrors will work great against birds. While they will not move, reflections from different angles will annoy birds and prevent them from landing on the boat. Therefore, reflective bird scare products are a well known solution for your bird boat problem.

If you get spiral rods, get something that will swing in the air as it rotates. Rods come in various sizes and will work for sparrows, woodpeckers, ospreys or pigeons, among others. You can hang them anywhere you like on the boat and make sure they are well secured or wind may take them off. Mirrors are just as easy to use and as effective – install small mirrors on various parts of the boat, at different angles. You want to deter seagulls from all directions.

Introduce those birds to your dog, an excellent boat bird deterrent

Birds can become quite invasive. They will come closer and closer until they will actually try to get in. If they keep hanging around on a daily basis, bring your sheepdog for a walk on the deck. Let the dog chase the birds, but keep it on a leash. Do it on a daily basis until seagulls get the message. It may not be a good idea to let your dog loose. If it manages to catch any birds, it will kill them – you do not want dead birds all over your deck, but just to chase them away.

Taking your dog for a daily walk on the deck will send a clear message and can be very effective. With time, the number of birds hanging around the boat will decline. The best strategy implies doing it during the peak of perching – early morning and evening. Your furry friend will not even have to chase seagulls. Its presence will make it obvious – there is a large predator out there and they need to go.

Bird X scare balloons

Use spikes as marine bird deterrent

One of the best methods to remove birds from your boat is to place some bird spikes in strategical places. Birds like to perch on the dock or dock railing. Place some plastic bird spikes (they really don't need to be metal) along the railing and the mast to discourage birds perching.

Initially they will look for some place to sit, but eventually they will give up when they find no landing place to roost and perch. Because of their legs, seagulls and ospreys will have a hard time landing on your boat. Besides, after trying and failing several times, they will be away forever and won't come back to the boat anymore. An excellent alternative to bird spikes is the daddi long legs bird control spider. It will prevent a bird from landing or nestling in places, like the mast, that are otherwise hard to protect.

If you're an animal lover, you don't have to worry either: bird spikes don't kill or harm birds at all. They simply prevent them to land on your boat.

Go noisy to scare them away

When boating, you do not necessarily have to bang spoons and pots or yell around, yet this option might work too – it is only temporary. Instead, opt for an ultrasonic device. Such things emit irritating noises that you may not necessarily hear. Sure, if you focus, you might hear something, but they are usually so high pitched that they will not bother you. They work with sensors, so they will kick in whenever they detect motion – they are meant for invasive animals, so they can obviously detect seagulls too.

This option is not the best bird control product for your boat if you have other pets around, such as dogs or cats. They will also hear these noises and they will be stressed out. If you do not have the budget for it, come up with some distressing noises of birds and predators. Such tapes or audio devices may be effective for some birds, but not for all of them. They will also work for you too because they can be quite annoying.

How to stop birds from pooping on my boat?

If you're a boat owner, you probably have asked yourself this question multiple times when scrubbing the bird poop of your dock. Well, if you have come this far reading this article, you already have your answer. Just easy any combination of above mentioned methods and products to keep birds off your boat and poop on your deck railing or dock will no longer be a problem. Whether you choose for a cat decoy, bird spikes, reflective mirrors, microfillament or netting: they will all keep your boat bird poop free!


As a short final conclusion, learning how to get rid of birds on boats is not the hardest job in the world. Apart from the above mentioned solutions and products, there is also a myth around fishing villages – seagulls apparently hate the color red because it hurts their eyes. There is no scientific evidence regarding it, but most people living in coastal areas have heard about it. Is it going to work? There is only one way to find out, but it would not hurt implementing some red elements into the design.

All in all, seagulls are intelligent birds and will try to work around your ideas. Some of them will get used to some of the things you bring in and start ignoring them later on. Some others may not even be affected by them. Therefore, the idea is to bring in as many products as you can. If you can install a few different seagull deterrents, do it and you will target more birds. One thing is for sure though – the job can be done, but you have to figure out yourself what truly works for your boat.​

Written by James Laverne

April 16th 2021

Avatar author James Laverne

Hi, I'm James! With over 25 years of anti-pest experience, I am writing this blog to help you birdproof your home. Get in touch if you have any questions. Happy reading!


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