Keeping birds away from boat and dock

Published on April 13th, 2020

When U.S. Airways flight 1549 ran into a flock of birds in January 2009 and pilot Chelsey Sullenberger famously crash-landed the Airbus A320 into New Yorks Hudson River, the issue of bird and human interaction became front-page news. Though sailboat owners face much less devastating consequences, our interaction with the avian community is nonetheless problematic.

As Practical Sailor described in the April 2008 issue, guano and other bird scat not only can cause maintenance headaches but they can be damaging to boats, particularly those left unattended. Most readers are familiar with these problems, and-as weve found-nearly every boat owner has a story about his battle with the birds.

Why so much fuss about a little poo you might ask? Well, despite the negative connotations of the term “bird brain,” it turns out that birds can be resolute foes in the battle to keep your boat clean.

Experts assert that birds adjust quickly to uniform movements or noise patterns, so visual and aural devices will affect them only temporarily. And, its proven that if theres a food source near a boats berth (fish, oysters, shrimp, crabs), most birds will endure significant hardship simply to feed. Further, birds feeding will very likely attract other birds, compounding the problem.

With some new products on the market, Practical Sailor set out to conduct a test of different bird repellents to determine which methods prove most effective for keeping these fouling fowl off boats. Though there are only a handful of manufacturers making such devices in the U.S., there are dozens of products marketed as bird deterrents. And, unfortunately, this array doesn’t lend itself to easy comparison. The situation is beyond apples and oranges; its more like an entire fruit bowl. Full report.

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