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What Smell Do Birds Hate? Here’s 7 Smells That Birds Hate

You don’t have to be a bird hobbyist or an ornithologist to enjoy the beauty of the various birds located around the world and especially in your own garden and backyard. Birds are enjoyable to watch and study. The only problem is when they begin nesting within your home, apartment, offices, and place where we live and work.

Bird Damage

Birds damaging blueberry crops
Birds damaging blueberry crops

The damage that they can cause will create structural damage with a financial downturn. Neighborhood related birds that nest on your property can create the following problems:

  • Contaminated droppings on a building, vehicle, mailbox, and all over the ground
  • Droppings in gutters can create a clogged issue.
  • Flowers and veggies whose seeds and leaves have been eaten and pecked on.
  • Loosened tiles with birds hoping to lift and nest beneath.
  • Larger bird species can eat small farm animals and eat their eggs.

Also, birds that have made a nest that contains their young, are very aggressive. They will fly and swoop around you. For example, if a bird’s nest is located in or around your home, it will fly close to you to intimidate you. Of course, by this time, it is too late to remove the nest but if you can wait for a week or two, the nest will be empty.

Do No Harm

What do you do when nesting or roosting birds become a nuisance around your property? Well, firstly most U.S state birds are migratory birds. This means that they are protected by state laws and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

You really don’t want to harm them or even kill them because like most creatures, birds serve an ecological purpose. We understand that birds take up nesting because they are looking for food, shelter, and to create a new generation of winged beauties.

Birds in the chimney
Birds in the chimney

But birds are stubborn and resistant to change, meaning that when they scout out a nesting place, that is where they want to stay. Your goal is to do no harm but to make the area unappealing to them. This can be accomplished with annoying sounds and terrible tasting products as well as visual or physical deterrents.

Expert Tip: More favorably, there are safe ingredients that contain smells that repel birds.

These scents do not harm birds. As a matter of fact, the birds do not like the following smells because they are an irritant to them, thus they will not take up residence around your garden, home, or building.

Can Birds Smell?

Many years ago, the founder of the Audubon Society, John James Audubon conducted several scent tests for birds, which failed. Because of this information, Audubon believed that a majority of birds can not smell but rather rely on their eyesight and hearing to locate food and nesting spots.

Can Birds Smell
Can Birds Smell

Since that time, ornithologists have adjusted this thinking. The physical makeup of scent glands in small birds consists of large olfactory air sacs within their bodies enabling them to inhale scents, breathe, and serve as flight directional glands.

These nasal looking passageways feature tissue-covered bone with a soft, fleshy, feather-free patch on the bill called a “cere” and a nostril design known as “nares”. Even though it is not clear, it is perceived that these nostril area glands do play an important role in a bird’s smelling and breathing.

However, birds on a whole like pigeons, robins, woodpeckers, swallows, starlings, blue jays, crows, blackbirds, and many other smaller-sized birds do not rely on their sense of smell. Their highly developed sense of hearing helps them locate food and shelter. Larger prey birds rely on their eyesight to capture their food.

Smaller species that are located in our residential and commercial locations rely on their eyes and super-hearing senses, like owls. Yes, the birds that we see around our homes find their food by sight or touch. These two senses are perceptibly developed in our local fowls.

But small migratory birds can smell and perceive odors even though their sense of smell is not as fully developed as their larger-sized cousins. Most bird nostril features are not used to smell like human noses are designed to do.

Birds that are ground hunting birds like Kiwi’s are definitely identified as using their scent glands to smell out food like small insects, i.e worms beneath the ground. Also, sea birds like pelicans and albatross species do use their developed olfactory nasal glands to smell and find their fish food.

Smells That Repel Birds

Let’s look at using a method that will deter birds from nesting in, around, and on your property. The following scents that are DIY home remedy products are scent irritants to birds and most importantly, will not harm them or cause any toxic reactions. Use the following irritant ingredients in a spray or sprinkle around your home or yard.

Smells That Repel Birds
Smells That Repel Birds

You can use garlic, peppermint, cayenne pepper, chili, vinegar, lemons, and bird gel to make a smell that repels birds.

Expert Tip: To eliminate or less bird activity, just make a solution to be used in your garden or other areas where birds tend to gather to keep them at bay.

It is very likely that the following scents are smells that repel birds and are located on your food shelf. Several of the following 7 smell lists are used when we prepare our foods. They also contain scents that are enjoyable to humans. However, for birds, they are an irritant.

1. Garlic

Garlic contains a natural chemical called “allicin” which is an irritant to birds but healthy for humans. You can make a spray solution with water only or you can combine garlic with vinegar and water to make an effective spray.

Garlic contains a natural chemical called allicin
Garlic contains a natural chemical called allicin

Spray leaves and possible nesting areas with a garlic oil solution, but you must spray occasionally to keep the garlic scent strong and fresh to repel birds. A DIY garlic spray works great in your garden to repel birds. A garlic solution can be sprayed onto fruit trees and fruit leaves.

When fruit begins to ripen, birds can smell this, and they will attack and eat the fruits.

Expert Tip: Garlic helps to mask the ripening scent of fruits, therefore, birds ignore your fruit trees and plants.

2. Peppermint

100% peppermint oil is part of the essential oil family. Birds don’t like the strong scent of peppermint and are repelled by its odor. Peppermint oil can be sprayed onto plants and structural areas without causing damage. It is just a deterrent to nesting or roosting birds.

Birds don't like the strong scent of peppermint
Birds don’t like the strong scent of peppermint

Peppermint oil does a great job of deterring birds. Just a slight whiff of pure peppermint oil will make them quickly fly in the opposite direction. Spraying this around potential nesting areas and in your garden allows a peppermint smell to repel birds.

3. Cayenne Pepper

Animals as a whole do not like the scent or taste of cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is repulsive to animals and birds. Birds find the smell of cayenne pepper an irritant because it harshly irritates their olfactory glands.

Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Pepper

Mix a larger portion of cayenne pepper with water to keep birds flying in another direction and away from damaging your garden or home.

4. Chili

Chili pepper, chili powder, or chili salt irritates the soft bone area within the nasal cavities of birds. Using it as a smell that repels birds is best used when it is mixed with a little water or vinegar. Spray it on and around where you don’t want birds to nest, and it will keep them at bay.

Birds don't like chili
Birds don’t like chili

Birds do not like the scent of the strong capsicum annuum that gives chili its spicy pungent flavor. Chili products can be sprinkled around areas where birds tend to congregate, and you will see them fly away. Chili will not harm buildings or plants so you can reapply your DIY chili bird repellant regularly.

5. Vinegar

The natural scent of vinegar is even tart to our taste and to our noses. If you spray fresh white vinegar in places where birds begin a nest, its smell will repel birds. Granted that vinegar is another liquid solution that must be kept refreshed or its odor will dissipate.

Vinegar smell will repel birds
The vinegar smell will repel birds

Many naturalists and farmers have learned that mixing vinegar, crushed garlic, or lemon together creates a spray that keeps birds away from gardens and housing structures. Vinegar’s pungent odor is enough to keep birds from roosting anywhere near your home. Vinegar will not harm birds.

6. Lemons

Lemons are too strong a scent for bird
Lemons are too strong a scent for bird

Freshly squeezed lemons sprayed on your garden or any part of the house annoys birds. Lemons are too strong a scent for them to handle so they will choose to fly away. You can also use real lemons or lemon oil diluted with water and spray it where birds congregate.

Expert Tip: Lemons are a great natural bird control solution, plus it is only an irritant and will not harm birds.

7. Bird Gel

Lastly, there are over-the-counter professional products like bird gel that are designed to be harmless to birds. It features a two-fold repellant feature. It not only irritates a bird’s sense of smell it also feels sticky which makes their feet feel irritated. Bird gel is a safe repellant that prevents birds from nesting or roosting in unwanted outdoor areas.

Bird gel is a safe repellant
Bird gel is a safe repellant

It feels sticky on their feet which birds do not trust or like, therefore, they will find another location.


Remember that the above scents are a repellant to birds and will not harm them. Before you enter the essential oil category to repel birds, do your research. For example, using essential products containing tea tree cinnamon, myrrh, sandalwood or eucalyptus oils or spray are toxic to birds.

These products will cause respiratory issues in birds. Yes, there are several bird repellant products, but as much as you can keep birds at bay without harming them, the better it is.

Will Spraying Vinegar Keep Birds Away? – A Fact of a Bluff?

You might be wondering why birds are coming to your garden, farms, and even at home? Well, you might as well have thought of driving them away without hurting them much, right? Now, to answer the given question, will spraying vinegar keep birds away? The answer is a strong YES.

Yes, it can drive away birds. Why? Vinegar contains acid that might be very irritating whenever gets contact with sensitive skin, much more sensitive among birds. This acid can suppress or kill bacteria in the surroundings where these bacteria can be harmful too among birds.

On the other hand, its irritating value can also be good as repelling factor among birds.

Expert Tip: The best way to make a repellent out of vinegar is that to have it in a 50-50 solution, water, and vinegar, or you can have it into a 100 percent vinegar content only if you wish to have a strong effect among birds. Then, you can start spraying the surfaces or areas where you want the birds to be off guard.

What Home Remedy Keeps Birds Away? Things to Know!

Birds might be very relaxing to watch especially if they are playing and making pleasant sounds out of their small mouths. However, there are some that are very irritating and quite destructing especially when you need the right time to relax and feel all alone.

Making unnecessary sounds is just one of the things annoying about them, more if they drop something in front of your yard, and worst of it hits your body parts, right?

Good thing that you can think and have some home remedies to keep birds away from your yard and to yourself as well. But always bear in mind that these birds should not be physically hurt and be seen by someone because some families of these birds are being protected by laws. So better think of some good ways to keep them far from you.

The first remedy you can have is by spraying vinegar in your area. Vinegar contains acids that might be irritating to birds. Next is you can also have chili pepper solution be sprayed or scattered into your yard or garden. The last thing to have is to have a do-it-yourself predator statue to scare away those birds of any type.

About Rencel Leyran