When Buying a Fake Bird, Save the Receipt

The first time I saw a plastic bird being used to shoo away real ones was on top of our local grocery store. It took three visits for me to realize that the very still bird that was always perched in the exact same spot wasn’t real.

For some reason, the front porch of our home attracts barn swallows. Each spring, the swallows return to build a nest in the exact same spot. I let it go for a couple of years — live and let live, I say — but then the jerks began taking advantage of my generous nature. I didn’t mind hearing “cheep cheep cheep” every time I left the house, but after a while the little buggers started dive-bombing me every time I walked up the sidewalk. In addition to the attacks and the noise, the birds coated everything on the front porch with poop. Our chair, our statue, and even the porch lantern are covered in an avian fecal winter wonderland.

Last fall after the birds moved out I sprayed down the abandoned nest using the garden hose. Beginning this spring, I monitored the porch more closely. Any time I saw the slightest hint that the birds were rebuilding, I’d re-spray the corner clean. Surely, I thought, after knocking down the beginnings of a nest ten times, the swallows would get the hint and move along.

We went out of town for four days and returned to a completely built nest, filled with eggs.

Not wanting to knock down a nest full of eggs, I went with Plan B and ordered the Bird B Gone Hawk Decoy from Amazon for around $13. According to Amazon, the Bird B Gone Hawk is designed to strike fear into the hearts of all lesser birds. Before it arrived, I stumbled across an animated owl at a garage sale for only a dollar. I went from owning zero fake birds to two in 48 hours.

Side by side, the fake owl is the more impressive of the two. It’s motion sensitive, which means each time I enter or exit my house, the owl goes “hoo, hoo” and its head spins around like Regan’s in The Exorcist. The plastic hawk is not animated, although its “mock predator eye and shiny reflective surface” (read: plastic) is supposed to be enough to deter birds from approaching.

One morning before work I placed the owl in the corner under the nest and the hawk in the bushes in front of the house.

I came home to discover the owl’s head covered in a layer of white poop, looking like a snow-capped mountain. “Hoo, hoo!” it said as I approached the front door. The owl tried to rotate its mechanical head, but with so much bird poop both on and in the gears, the movement was less than smooth. The hawk fared better; he was leaning at a 45 degree angle, but still inside the bushes. I’m not sure if it was knocked over by the wind or by another animal, but I have my suspicions.

The only effect my two fake birds seem to have had is that now the real birds are more aggressive. They don’t attack the fake birds so much as they now continually attack me. Instead of hanging out in their nest, they now perch on the edge of gutter, dive-bombing me every time I walk up or down the sidewalk.

So there you have it. This was a few weeks ago. I went outside to take a picture of the nest for this post and was attacked by a swallow. If anyone wants a poop-covered owl, a plastic statue of a hawk, or a used sparrow’s nest, shoot me an offer.

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