Owl Decoys to Scare Birds Away

Using owl decoys to scare birds away

Pest birds cause millions of dollars in damage to homes and buildings across America every year. Due to the acidity levels found in bird droppings, structures are eroded causing leaks and ruining historical properties and statues. Nesting birds can also ruin gutters, cause electrical fires and block ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Gardens and crop fields are tempting too with birds destroying young seedlings and fresh fruit and contaminating our food with their droppings. It is therefore important that we find an effective, yet ecologically safe way to control the bird population.

Best owl decoys

An owl decoy is an environmentally friendly bird deterrent, that does not harm birds or other wildlife, yet will effectively deter them from your property in the short term. Below we review our top 5 best owl decoys for your backyard.

  1. Gardeneer By Dalen
  2. Britenway Large Scarecrow Owl Decoy
  3. Galashield Owl Decoy
  4. Bird Blinder Scarecrow
  5. Hausse Solar Powered Fake Owl

best owl decoys bird deterrents

What is an owl decoy used for?

An owl decoy is specifically designed to scare off birds. Decoys such as owls are low-maintenance options for bird control and are usually made from durable plastic so that they can be used throughout the year and in all-weather situations.

Decoys are commonly created in the shape of an owl (or sometimes a hawk), as these are predators that hunt birds in the wild. Therefore, a fake owl is likely to prevent birds from visiting a property.

By strategically placing these decoy owls on your roof, in your backyard, or even on a boat, birds are unable to tell that the decoy is not real at least for a little while. When the sun is shining, these owl decoys produce a scary shadow that is menacing to pest birds, but the success of decoy birds ultimately relies on human interaction. By moving the decoy owl to a variety of different locations, gives the impression that the owl is real and on the hunt.

Do owls really scare birds away?

Back in 2012, Linfield College in Oregon carried out an in-depth study to determine whether placing a decoy owl in your backyard, really could scare away birds. Findings found that birds were significantly deterred from feeding when there was a predator presence, however, this proved to be the case for only a limited period of time.

Using paired tests, we determined that a false predator was effective in deterring bird species – Linfield College

To a small bird, an owl seems formidable agile, and always on the hunt, it rules the sky and often our backyards. But certain species of birds are intelligent, and after just a few days can often figure out which owls are real, and which are fake placed there to scare pigeons and other birds away.

using a decoy to stop birds hitting glass windows

Using decoy owls to stop birds from hitting windows

If you have watched Alfred Hitchcock's world-renowned film The Birds, then this situation could well sound familiar.

A few years back we had a call from a resident who was being plagued by crows. Fascinated by their own reflections, as the sun came up, they would throw themselves against the glass back door. The noise (not to mention the mess) was very distressing for everyone plus, the racket was waking everyone up. After some initial investigations, we decided to trial decoy owls around the property, and low and behold the crows never came back!

See my reviews below on the best decoy owls with moving heads, lights, sound, and other mechanical features.

Do fake owls keep pigeons away?

Fake owl decoys can be a good way of limiting the number of pest birds visiting your garden but as we have established it is highly dependent on species so what about pigeons?

Pigeons may look a little silly with their bobbing heads and tatty feathers, but they are actually quite quick in figuring out situations and are unlikely to be put off by a plastic fake owl for long. In fact, we have seen pigeons in some cities that have had such little respect for our owl decoys that they use them as a perch to sit and watch the world go by.

We would say, that the more realistic you can make your owl look the more convincing it is likely to appear to a pigeon. But, for best results in scaring pigeons away, we would recommend an integrated approach using physical barriers such as nets, gels, and spikes.

Do decoy owls scare hawks?

Hawks are magnificent birds, however, when you have yields or small animals, hawks can become a real pest. In the past, raptors such as hawks would be controlled through shooting or poisoning, but today they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 USC, 703-711) which strictly prohibits the capture, killing, or possession of hawks without a special permit. In addition to this, most states have regulations regarding hawks depending on whether they are regarded as an endangered species.

It is common knowledge that hawks and owls are natural enemies due to a shared interest in prey and nesting choices. It is, therefore, not uncommon to see a hawk go out of its way to avoid coming into contact with an owl.

For this reason, if you were looking to deter hawks from circling around your crops or chickens, then a plastic decoy owl should keep them well away. Just be sure to move the owl decoy around regularly, as hawks are highly intelligent and will notice if the deterrents remain stationary for more than a couple of days.

Where to place owl decoys

If you are looking to prevent birds from nesting or perching on your property, then we would advise placing the owl decoy on the roof or in trees as this will stop them from scouting out the area. Owls, predominantly, don't like to be seen in the day, so positioning one in plain sight will cause suspicion. Instead, hide it behind leaves or tv aerials so it is less obvious to other birds.

Where to place owl decoys

Make sure that you remember to change the owl decoys position every few days and hang old CDs or ribbons from branches around it to add to the overall confusion for visiting birds.

Either purchase a mechanical bird or invest in an inexpensive sound device that makes a loud sound like a distressed bird at random intervals to make the decoy even more lifelike.

How to mount a decoy owl

No matter where you plan to position your decoy owl, you must make sure you implement the following steps:

  1. If you have a non-mechanical decoy owl, turn it upside down to expose the hollow inside.
  2. Fill the owl with sand or gravel to keep it grounded in windy weather conditions.
  3. Find a suitable location for your owl. Ideally, it should be up high, looking down imposingly on passing pigeons and birds.
  4. Your decoy owl should come with mounting equipment and instructions, but you may need a ladder to position it. You can also use other items such as cable ties or nails to attach the feet to branches and ledges for added stability.
  5. Make sure that you move the owl around regularly (every 2-3 days) to maximize the effect.

5 Best Decoy Owl Products

There are a number of mechanical or animated decoy owls that are available to purchase. Still, decoys do not move whilst action and robotic decoys have the ability to flap their wings and make bird-like noises. Below are my top 5 best owl decoys to keep birds away available to buy on Amazon.

[amazon box=”B005J24R26″ link_id=”1413″]

1. Gardeneer By Dalen

As far as plastic owls go, this one looks pretty convincing and comes with a bobbing head that can spin 360 degrees in the breeze, for added effect. Imposing in statue this decoy owl is 18†tall, so does need to be weighed down with either sand or stones. This owl is imported from China, however, so make sure you leave time for delivery.

2. Britenway Large Scarecrow Owl Decoy

This owl is hand-painted in America and looks realistic when captured out of the corner of the eye sitting on the fence. Although it is not mechanical in any way, the manufacturers are so confident that this decoy owl has the desired effect on pest birds, that they offer a 30-day refund for unsatisfied customers. Again, this owl comes hollow for you to fill, and has two handy hooks to attach it to nearby trees and structures.

[amazon box=”B079JYN1GZ” link_id=”1414″]

3. Galashield Owl Decoy

We particularly like this moving owl decoy, as not only does it come with a rotating head but piercing reflective eyes. There are, however, limited instructions and no special brackets or provisions for mounting this owl, so we would suggest drilling some holes in the feet to allow you to perch him up high.

[amazon box=”B06Y1W4SB4″ link_id=”1415″]

4. Bird Blinder Scarecrow

If you are plagued by pest birds around your property, then we recommend this set of 3 unique owl decoys. Each owl has been decoratively hand-painted and looks completely different from the next, in order to add to the illusion of multiple owl predators. Relatively small in comparison to other decoy owls, these stand at just over 10 tall.

[amazon box=”B07MD5KR9Z” link_id=”1416″]

5. Hausse Solar Powered Fake Owl

You won't get more lifelike than this action decoy owl, which comes with flashing eyes and scary sound effects. Solar-powered by the sun, you don't need to worry about batteries either, just anchor your owl near natural light and switch it on.

decoys to scare birds

Additional decoys to keep birds away

We would always recommend employing more than one decoy bird control product around your property for maximum effect. We have often found that whilst fake owls can often solve a situation, in some circumstances, they can go on to reoccur on the other side of the building. Also, you may find that whilst plastic owls are great for scaring certain birds, others are more non-plus.

Kite decoys

These kites are designed to look like replica birds and can fly and dip in the wind, imitating real movements. Designed to help farmers, gardeners and mariners scare away pest birds, they are also fun for kids to fly.scare tape to deter birds

Balloon decoys

Great for keeping birds away, these 3D predator balloons are bright in color and move majestically in the sky. These are great as they can be tied to trees, garages, doorways, and barns.


These are easy to make and effective to use. Made out of waterproof materials such as CDs or plastic, when banging in the wind they startle birds away.

Aluminum foil tapes

Another visual option to scare birds away is to use iridescent bird deterrent foil. Usually made of aluminum, you simply cut off strips and attach them to fence posts, trees, or rooftops to scare the birds away. As the strips blow in the wind, they catch the sunlight, producing an array of constantly changing colors and patterns. The tape itself produces a metallic rattle, and the combination of the two is enough to unnerve pest birds for good.


Most birds are not considered to be pests, but if you are plagued with pigeons, crows, and other species that when left to nest can cause substantial damage, you know it is time to act. A fake plastic owl decoy is a good solution as it is not harmful to either wildlife or the environment. However, owl decoys may only offer a short-term solution, and if the problem continues to spiral that you may require additional pest control in the future such as nets, gels, and spikes.

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