Robins are beautiful migratory birds. However, they can quickly damage your home and garden, especially when migrating in large flocks during the spring. Robins can damage your garden by tearing up the grass, scattering mulch while looking for food, and eating fruit or crops. On top of this, robins can carry and attract parasites and insects with their nests, putting your family, pets, and home at risk. Robin poop can also be a health risk and create a foul stench, especially if robins get inside your walls. However, you can not legally kill robins in the United States, and in many areas, their nests are protected and should not be destroyed unless the robin has moved on. So, what can you do to get rid of robins and rid your home of these nuisance birds?
In this guide, we’ll cover the following:
- How to get rid of robins
- How to keep robins away
- How to identify robins
- Signs & causes of robins nesting near your home
How To Get Rid of Robins
As a homeowner, it’s understandable that you’d want to get rid of robins to protect your family’s health and your home and garden from damage. However, it’s crucial that you check with your local laws and regulations first to see what protections may be in place for robins in your area.
Robins are a protected species, and their nesting sites are also usually protected, meaning that the nests can’t be moved or destroyed unless abandoned. So, before you take any of the following steps, please check your local laws to make sure you are compliant.
Here are our top recommendations for getting rid of robins humanely:
- Install noisemakers or streamers to deter robins from sticking around. Noisemakers, like wind spinners or wind chimes, can scare off robins. Other popular options include brightly colored ribbons, Mylar streamers, or sonic repellents, which can frighten robins away from your property.
- Assess your landscaping. Robins need coverage to protect them from strong winds and poor weather conditions. They also need nesting material. Take a look at your yard and garden. Prune trees, trim hedges, and mow grass that is overgrown to prevent robins from having ample nesting material.
- Apply sticky gel. Watch the robins for a few days to see where they frequently perch on your roof, front porch, patio, etc. Then, apply a polybutene gel product to those spots. The sticky gel will irritate the robins and force them to find new nesting sites away from your home.
- Treat any existing pest problems. Robins primarily eat insects during the spring and summer, such as snails, spiders, and earthworms. If you have a spider or insect problem, get professional help to treat it immediately to discourage robins and other pests from using the insects as a food source. Young robins eat insects and worms primarily, so reducing the number of insects on your property may reduce a robin’s willingness to nest nearby.
- Create a homemade robin repellent. To create a DIY bird repellent, take 8 ounces of water mixed with 1 ounce of crushed chili peppers. Place this mixture into a spray bottle and spray around your porch, roof, or other areas where you spot robins. Robins hate chili peppers and will be repulsed by the stench.
- Use humane bird traps. If you only have a few robins on your property, consider setting up a humane bird or robin trap, then relocate the bird miles away from your property. We don’t recommend this if you have a large robin infestation or if the robins are nesting because the fledglings will not survive without their mother or father. If you choose this method, it’s critical that you take other steps, like habitat modification, to prevent robins from returning to your property.
- Scare robins away. Robins don’t like sudden movement, so consider using a visual deterrent that moves to scare them. You can set up a motion-activated sprinkler in your yard to startle these nuisance birds away. Alternatively, you can hang predator eye balloons, reflective eye diverters, or flash tape from trees to create sudden movements and reflections.
- Hire a professional pest control service. Many pest control companies offer bird control product installation, like bird netting or humane traps, to deal with bird infestations. Look for wildlife or pest control companies that specifically provide bird control services for the best results.
How To Keep Robins Away
Once you’ve gotten rid of robins on your property, you’ll want to take precautions to keep robins from returning to your home and garden.
Here are some of our top tips for keeping your home robin-free:
- Put up plastic decoys. Robins have many natural predators, including hawks and owls. Many stores sell fake owl or hawk decoys that you can place around your garden to scare off critters and pests, like robins. For the best results, make sure you consistently move the decoys around. Otherwise, the robins will smarten up and realize over time that these decoys aren’t a real threat to them. You can also place alligator or snake decoys to frighten birds away from drinkable water if you have water features.
- Take away your bird feeder or birdbath. While you may enjoy seeing birds drinking or eating from the feeder, removing food and water sources is important for keeping robins and other pests away. If you have permanent water features, consider replacing saltwater with freshwater so that birds cannot drink from it.
- Remove any available food sources. Robins will eat many foods, so make sure that all outdoor food sources are secured. Check that your garbage cans are tightly sealed and never leave food outside, such as pet food or picnic leftovers.
- Tend to your garden and crops. If you have fruit trees or vegetables on your property, make sure that you regularly tend to the plants and pick any ripe fruits or vegetables. Many pests, including robins, will use your crops as a food source, especially if it’s easy to access, like fallen fruit on the ground. Consider covering your garden with a net to keep birds and other pests from eating your plants.
- Remove old nests. Robins migrate during the spring and summer months. During fall, take time to remove existing nests on your property to discourage birds and other pests from using these nests again. Most of the time, robins will build a new nest, but used nests can harbor parasites, insects, and robin poop, so it’s best to remove these as a preventative measure.
- Treat your plants with pesticides. Robins eat insects, such as earthworms or Japanese beetles. There is little you can do about certain insects, like earthworms, but you can treat for other insects like Japanese beetles. Eliminate these bugs using insecticides or other measures to reduce robin food sources on your property.
How To Identify Robins
Robins are adaptable birds found in many parts of North America. They thrive in parks, forests, woodlands, yards, pastures, and even the tundra. Typically, robins are between 8 and 11 inches long.
American robins are beautiful birds with gray-brown feathers and orange underparts. Female robins are typically paler, while males have deeper, richer colors that contrast with their gray backs. Both male and female robins have white patches on their lower belly and underneath their tail, which you may spot while they are in flight. Please note that robins found in the Western United States are usually paler in color than their richly colored Eastern and Canadian counterparts.
These industrious birds are known to bound across lawns. Typically, they stand tall with their beak tilted upwards to help them spot predators, like owls and hawks. A common robin behavior to watch for is constant tail flicking. Many robins will flick their tail downward multiple times in a row out of habit.
Signs & Causes of Robins Nesting Near Your Home
Robins typically live close to humans and are among the first songbirds to create nests in the spring. If you suspect you have robins nesting near your home, start by looking for some of the most common signs, such as:
- Loud bird noises: Most homes will be close enough to birds where you can hear the occasional bird chirp. However, if you suddenly start hearing new or much louder bird sounds, you may have a robin’s nest nearby. Nasal whining sounds are a hallmark noise that nestings make to get their mother’s attention, so listen carefully for any unusual sounds.
- Unusual behavior: If you spot a robin repeatedly visiting a spot with no food source, the robin may be perching near there to watch over it. Watch for robins that continually fly to the same site, possibly with many glances to a specific spot, and see if you can spot nearby nests.
- Destruction: Robins are messy creatures when they’re creating their nests. If you see robins suddenly plucking their own feathers, they’re likely gathering materials for a nest. Other popular nesting materials include grass, paper, thread, etc.
- Look for robin nests: Robin nests are cup or bowl-shaped and made of dried grass, paper, thread, feathers, and mud. They’re most often found in trees or shrubs and usually contain between three to seven eggs at one time. Nests are typically built in April, but this can vary based on your location.
So, why are robins nesting near my home? There are a few primary reasons why a robin may select your home for its nest:
- Easy access to food and water: Like all animals, robins will only consider areas where they can easily hunt down food for themselves and their baby robins.
- Shelter: Robins that are nesting will look for an area with trees or shrubs to place their nest in. In addition, an area with ample coverage from predators in the sky is beneficial to them, so if you have a lot of nearby trees or a cluster of trees, birds may flock to your property to nest.
- You have a pest problem: If you have pest infestations, like spiders or termites, robins may nest nearby to access food quickly. If this is the case, promptly address the pest problem, and you should discourage robins from nesting near you in the future.
Robins are beautiful birds, but you should not underestimate the damage they can cause to your home and garden. If you spot robins near your home, act immediately before they begin creating nests on your property because robins are a protected species that cannot be harmed or removed when they are nesting. After robins have migrated away from your home, take immediate steps to keep robins away in the future. Habitat modification steps, such as reducing available food and water sources and removing nesting materials, like excess grass or trash, can decrease your risk of having robin problems in the future.