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Can Fake Owls Keep Real Birds Away?

Birds are beautiful, and we love to have them in our yard. They’re also helpful since they eat huge quantities of annoying insects, like mosquitoes. But even out feathered friends can get out of hand at times. 

You might run into problems with birds at times. They could damage your garden or leave droppings all over the place. And you’d just like to be able to keep them away – maybe not from your whole yard, but at least from certain areas. 

Many people turn to plastic owl figures to try to keep birds away. But is this effective? And are there better ways to do the job?

Why Plastic Owls Work – and Don’t Work

The theory behind plastic owls for bird control is a solid one. Many small birds are afraid of owls. Owls are predatory animals – they hunt mice and other small mammals, but they’re not averse to grabbing birds, too. And other birds will easily recognize the silhouette of an owl. So using a plastic owl makes sense – birds will be afraid and stay away.

However, birds are smarter than we usually give them credit for. They know an owl isn’t going to sit in the same place for days on end. They know they don’t perch in exposed places. In other words, they know how to spot a fake.

Sure, at first glance, they may be intimidated. But they’ll soon realize there’s no danger and return to their former habits.

Some Alternatives

There are no perfect or easy ways to keep birds from intruding where you don’t want them. But some steps can provide a bit of relief.

Have a deer issue in your garden? We’ve got some great tips!

Keep Your Owls Moving

For example, those plastic owls can still be helpful. However, you need to put some work into it. Choose their roosts wisely – hang them in a tree or a ledge under the eaves. Also, they need to be moved around about twice a week. After three or four days, the birds or on to you. Time to make adjustments!

If I Only Had A Brain . . .

An old-fashioned scarecrow has the same problems as an owl. They work for a bit but need changing up. You can build one with just two pieces of wood nailed together like a T. Dress it up in old clothes. But to be effective, move it to different parts of the yard and change its clothes occasionally.

Somebody’s Watching You 

A couple mylar balloons painted with eyes can also help frighten birds away. The eyes can make them feel like they’re being watched. Garden shops sometimes sell these. Or you can buy plain mylar balloons and paint the eyes on yourself.

Gotta Wear Shades

You can also hang shiny objects from poles or branches. They work best if they’re light and can move in even a slight breeze. The reflection will startle the birds and send them flying.

On the outside, looking in

To protect seedlings in your garden, a layer of chicken wire is a big help. As they start to grow, you should raise the wire a couple inches.

On that same theme, netting is the best way – really the only way – to keep birds completely away from your plants. The more expensive stuff is worth it – it will hold up over time. The low-end netting falls apart and animals can get tangled in it.


Plastic owls can help to keep birds away, but you still have to put some effort into moving them around every few days. Otherwise, the birds will learn to ignore them. Still, it’s a decent strategy when you need to keep them at bay. There’s no perfect solution for a bird problem. But don’t forget – birds add beauty and pest control, so you don’t want to completely get rid of them, either!

About Us

Tom and Sarah Greenwood are the dynamic duo behind “Yards Improved,” dedicated to the joys and challenges of gardening, pool maintenance, and lawn and patio care. With Tom’s passion for landscape design and Sarah’s enthusiastic approach to gardening, they share their journey of transforming their backyard into a thriving retreat. We strive to offer practical advice aimed at helping you enhance your outdoor space.