Cost - $25 available here
Aesthetic - 9/10 (It doesn’t draw attention, like other methods)
Source - The local hardware store, you can buy them off of the internet also.
The Theory - Owls are the natural predators of most birds, so the birds won’t go near an owl. Having an owl around the area you want to protect will keep the birds away, and the birds don’t know that your owl is really plastic.
How to use - Quite simple, place the owl in the area you want to keep free of birds. I had an old fencing post near my lawn so I screwed the owl to it which was a little mucking around, but still relatively easy. Maintenance wise, you could move it around to keep the birds guessing. The owl I bought had a ‘wind powered spinning head’. So in the breeze the head spins around which is a little creepy for birds. The moving parts are to help make the owl seem more authentic, and keep the birds guessing. Not all plastic owls have moving parts.
Story - I had high hopes for the owl. It looked quite good, (but compared to CD’s tied together with some string anything looks good) and it cost more than most of the bird scaring techniques.
Two days in and I hadn’t seen any birds on the seed. Although I got the feeling they were testing the waters though, I saw one sly bird perched on the fence a few meters away from the owl, but the way the bird was sitting, he may not have seen the owl (as the gate post is a little lower than the fence height).
Four days in my wife and I came home from grocery shopping and there was four pigeons feasting on my lawn seed, right under the nose of the owl! About 4 -5 metres away, even while his head shook from side to side.
Seven days in and the birds are getting closer, one bold pigeon was sighted right underneath the owl, I mean less than one metre away from it.
I do consider the owl in its current position relatively useless now, it may displace future birds that are looking for a place to eat but if they see another bird eating seed right underneath its feet, the jig is up and the seed will be gone in a few days. This caused me to move the owl.
The owl in the new place did keep the birds away for a day or two as far as I could see. There was still half the seed left that I had used. My second location was to put the owl on top of the air conditioner, which is under the eve of the roof. And when I took the owl down he had bird poo on him. :/
Conclusion - The plastic owl does seem to have an initial impact on birds. Although as time passes and the owl doesn’t move, the birds seem to figure out that it won’t move and take their chances. Even a spinning head wasn’t enough movement to scare the birds.
During the test I noticed that the head of the owl wasn’t moving much. It does move in the wind but now having a way to gauge the wind I have notice there isn’t much around at the moment. This is something that I never really thought of before I bought the owl, and may be lessening its effects. It does seem far-fetched though.
I’m also not sure there is always a place to put a plastic owl either. Where you would put this if you had a space of lawn to protect? And if you had a large space it wouldn’t take long for the birds to start creeping in on the owl from a distance.
This is a good bird scarer if you were scaring the birds for a short period of time (hours) and the owl didn’t stay in the same place. For example scaring birds off an outside setting at night.
It didn’t seem to have an impact when I moved the owl, the birds didn’t see me and think, the owl is not moving on his own, he must be fake. Even though I moved the owl in the middle of the day with birds most likely watching me, they didn’t come and get the seed much faster afterwards.
The imitation owl with moving head is usually $33, but is available here for under $26