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Does Bird Scare Tape Work? (5 Things To Know)

We all love birds but sometimes we need to shoo them away for their own safety. For this purpose sometimes scare tapes are used. But does bird scare tape work? 

The answer to this question is “Yes”. The reflective properties of scare tapes make them an effective tool for scaring some birds. Aside from their good reflectivity, they are lightweight and move with the air, which scares away birds.  

Nevertheless, it is not guaranteed to work on all bird species. Some birds are very intelligent and they may get scared by the sight of the scare tape at first. But eventually, they will learn that this is nothing harmful and you are just tricking them. 

Having that said, I have answered the question: does bird scare tape work or not in detail, keeping the above problem in mind too. If you are interested in learning all this, keep on reading!

Does bird scare tape work?

Does Bird Scare Tape Work?

As mentioned earlier bird scare tape works in most cases due to its moving reflective design. However, there are a few things you should be aware of before using this type of tape. Not all types of birds react the same way when confronted with these tapes.

The three main factors that determine how effective your tape is against a particular type of bird are:

1) Type/color of tape – Different colors will elicit different reactions from different types of birds. If you are unsure what kind of bird reacts well to what you taped, here are useful links below.

2) Height of tape – Higher-placed tapes tend to attract more attention than lower-placed ones. Be careful if placing your tape high up as it can cause injury to small birds like pigeons. Also, remember to place your tape properly. Make sure its edge touches the ground so that it doesn’t blow away.

3) Time of day – Tapes don’t work as well during early morning hours as birds become more active after sunrise.

Why Does Bird Scare Tape Work?

The next interesting question that may come to your mind is that why do these bird scare tapes work? What kind of mechanism is involved in the whole process of scaring away the birds. Well, to be honest, there is no rocket science involved.

It is all just a reflective tape strip that moves with the air and reflects the sunlight that falls on it. Seen this reflection especially with a changing pattern, most birds consider it as a threat. As a result, birds scare away and they don’t want to come near the tape. 

There’s another school of thought about how birds scare tape works. Actually, I found a very interesting discussion thread on Reddit, I think! Well, I don’t remember the exact path so I won’t be able to link to the reference. Here’s what people think:

A spooked bird about to take off

Why are birds afraid of reflective tape?

Bird scare tapes use a method known as flash reflection. This is similar to the reflection you see on shiny objects such as mirrors or windows. When a bird comes near the tape’s surface they see the reflected image of another object.

The image is quite quick and sharp enough to make them believe that this bright object is something real. They usually fly away from the sudden appearance of this scary-looking thing and never come back again.

Point to Pounder – Birds are incapable of distinguishing reflections from the real world. As a result, they often fly into windows. An even more obvious example of this is the male bird fighting its own reflection.

How Do Birds React To Bird Scare Tape?

Birds react differently to different types of scare tape. It also depends on where and when you tape. There are two types of reactions based on the level of stress involved. 

A bird that feels relaxed while seeing a tape will react normally. Whereas stressed birds tend to fly away from the threat immediately.

There are basically 3 different responses that birds have to the tape. These are outlined below:

1) Flight away: In this case, the bird flies away from the tape. Usually, this is done within seconds of approaching the tape. If the bird was injured then, it could land on the tape and peck it out of concern that it might be dangerous.

2) Pecking: Most birds do this but it doesn’t happen all the time. It depends on the strength as well. Most birds won’t go for pecking out the tape until it has been attacked several times. Once it reaches this stage they’ll just take off without even bothering to look at the tape.

3) Look around: This last scenario involves some birds actually stopping to look at the tape once it has approached the screen. This behavior is generally seen with smaller birds who have either just hatched or are younger.

It serves as a defense mechanism of sorts. They want to know what it is that caused them to sense danger. They’re less likely to fly right into it because they’ve learned about avoiding danger through previous experience.

Will Aluminum Foil Keep Birds Away?

Okay, we talked about the science and logic behind a bird scare tape. But wait a minute! We all have aluminum foils in our kitchens (almost everyone has them). Do you think it will also work just like the tape? Well, it is a bit tricky to answer this question as there are a few things you need to know.

The first thing that needs to be noted is aluminum foil is a good reflection of light rays. Which means that it can work in scaring the birds away.

However, if it is static then it won’t be that effective. It is because the birds in your lawn or garden will learn that this is just an aluminum sheet and not something scary. 

A scared Kingfisher

Do Birds Scatter When They See Tape?

This really depends on many factors including the height of the tape and the proximity of other nearby objects that may act as distractions. Generally speaking, however, the higher the tape and the closer the other objects are, the more likely the birds are to scatter.

The reason is that any noise coming from the tape disturbs the harmony of nearby birds which makes them feel nervous and start flocking together in an attempt to flee. You’d notice how quickly this happens.

What Kind Of Birds Are Affected By Bird Scare Tape?

It works on all kinds of birds but especially larger ones that can cause harm to people.

Examples include:

  • Eagles,
  • Owls,
  • Storks,
  • Swans,
  • Geese,
  • Pigeons,
  • Woodpeckers,
  • Squirrels,
  • Parakeets,
  • Crows,
  • Seagulls,
  • Ducks and Gulls.

Will Reflective Tape Scare Small Birds?

I’ve mentioned a shortlist of big birds that don’t like reflective tape very much. However, the problem is small birds, especially house sparrows which can destroy your succulent garden in no time. 

Well, the answer to this question is yes, the reflective tape also works on small birds effectively as long as it is properly reflecting light and moving randomly in wind. The birds around will think it as if something is trying to harm them. 

For your information here is a list of small birds that are scared of reflective tapes:

  • House Sparrows
  • Cedar Waxwings
  • American Goldfinches
  • European Starlings
  • Red-winged Blackbirds
  • White-throated Sparrows
  • Common Ground Doves
  • Hedge Buns

These are only a few examples but if you see one of these birds flying around your house then try using some reflective tape to scare it away.

What About Other Festive Ribbon or Tape 

At this point, I hope you’ve found the answer to your question i.e. does bird scare tape work or not. But as I said earlier there might be additional questions coming to your mind related to this topic. For example, you might think about a festive ribbon, right? Or a plastic strip that can reflect light.

Well, the point is, you can definitely use them without any issue whatsoever. But the only issue is that they won’t last long. Why? Because the UV (Ultra Violet) rays in the sunlight will ruin the quality of the plastic with time.  

If you choose to use a festive ribbon instead of plastic tape then yeah! You can have a little bit longer performance. But the problem is, festive tapes don’t work very well with the rain and water splashes. Therefore, it may work for a few months but eventually, you will need to replace it with a new one.

Bird Scare Tape Vs Decoys

A bird looking at a scare tape in the garden

Some people try to put decoys in their yards to scare away birds and discourage them from entering their yards. Well, that may sound like a neat trick but actually, it isn’t that effective. Why? Because most birds are smart enough to know that decoys are just for show they ignore them.

Since decoys are usually static and they don’t move, some very intelligent birds such as corvids can easily tell whether it is safe to sit near it or not. Additionally, scare tapes actually move with the wind, which is annoying for birds since the reflection changes angle continuously. 

However, it doesn’t mean that decoys are completely useless. In fact, predators such as fake owls, snakes, etc can work very well in small places. 

Should You Put Bird Scare Tape on Windows?

In most cases, you may notice birds hitting the windows of taller buildings. This is a bigger problem as it can cause severe injury and sometimes result in the death of the bird. According to some studies, about a quarter of a million birds die due to collision with windows only each year in England.

This means the number can be twice or thrice globally because there are so many skyscrapers in cities now. Well, you can help save our little feather fellows by attaching some scare tape to the frames of your windows. 

This should work very well but sometimes it may not be sufficient as sometimes birds may still fly into windows. Under such conditions, you need to fix some strands of the tape by spacing them apart in such a way that birds can see them easily from a distance.

Good to Know – Suppose the birds attracted to your windows are mostly birds of similar size to blue jays. Separate the strands by four inches. For smaller birds, like sparrows or cardinals, the spacing should be 3 inches.  

Last Minute Thoughts 

Does bird scare tape work? Yes, bird scares tape work in most cases but it may not work on all species of birds.

However, if you are looking for ways to repel birds from some specific places such as trees where you park your car etc. You can use bird deterrent tape in combination with decoys like a fake owl etc. 

I hope you’ve not only enjoyed reading this article but have learned something new from it today. If you found it helpful please share it with your friends and family and don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest. 

I am also open to suggestions from everyone. If you think I can make this article more helpful for my readers you can drop your suggestions in the comments section. 


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