by Alex A. Kecskes
As a boat owner, you want to keep your boat in ship-shape condition, ready to sail without a lot of clean-up or maintenance. That means your radar units, canvas covers, masts and Biminis must be free of bird droppings and debris. If you're an experienced boat owner, you know that preparation is the key to keeping your boat in tip-top condition. You know that an ounce of prevention now can keep you boat free of pest birds for all those summer excursions, harbor cruises and parties. The last thing your guests want to see is bird droppings all over your boat as they snack on food and drinks. You also don't want your guests--especially landlubbers--to trip on your deck because of bird droppings, which you know can be slipperier than a banana peel.
Problem: Unless you're prepared with effective bird control measures, your boat can easily become the victim of many types of pest birds. These include egrets, blue herons, crows, doves, and seagulls, even an occasional pelican. Some species of seagulls, such as the Heerman's gull are protected by law. Destruction or removal of a nest may result in legal penalties. So the idea is to keep birds from gathering and nesting on your boat in the first place. No matter which species invade your boat, you'll have quite a mess on your hands. The droppings and food scraps they carry can be both annoying and destructive, especially if left to gather on masts, spreaders, and riggings. In most cases, the droppings, once dried, can be nearly impossible to remove from certain surfaces. Cormorant droppings, for example, can be like epoxy. The worst part is, the high concentration of uric acid--extremely high in sea bird droppings--can erode stainless steel, discolor paint, and permanently stain your jell coat and blue covers. Bird droppings can also carry any of 60 known diseases, so if you're cleaning off the dust, be very careful.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep birds off boats. But you must act now before your boat becomes home to these pests.
Solution: To whip birds away from those high areas of your boat that birds find irresistible, consider investing in Bird Spiders. These popular and highly effective bird deterrents typically have stainless steel "arms" that wave wildly in the breeze to discourage all manner of pest birds. Birds don't like to feel threatened and bird spiders make them feel unwelcome. They come in 2-, 4-, 6-, and 8-foot diameter arm lengths to cover ever-increasing areas of deterrence. They're easy to place on masts, spreaders and railings. Some spiders come with an optional base, so you can literally place them anywhere pest birds tend to gather. They're also easily removed and stored when you're ready to set sail.
For the very tip of top of masts and other high areas of your vessel, consider installing some Bird Spikes. These intimidating looking bird deterrents simply won't allow birds to land. They come in stainless steel and in 3-, 5- and 8-inch widths to deter virtually any size pest bird. The best spikes feature a U.V. -protected polycarbonate base, which is 1.5-inches wide, so you can easily attach it with zip ties. Bird spikes won't harm birds and have been approved by humane groups worldwide--including the U.S. Humane Society and PICAS (Pigeon Control Advisory Service).