Many sailors have a real love affair with their boats. They may not have a fancy yacht, a 50-foot trawler or some go-fast "cigarette," but they're always sanding, painting or cleaning their boat every chance they get. A clean, ship-shape boat says a lot about its owner. And most owners say a lot about their boat—to friends, family, fellow sailors, even strangers. One thing they all have in common is their disdain for pest birds. Which brings us to a major problem faced by virtually every boat owner.

Problem: Pest birds come in all sizes and shapes--gulls, cormorants, pelicans and pigeons. They love to flock around your masts, spreaders and riggings. And what they leave behind isn't pretty: bird droppings that smell and deface and eat into everything: canvas covers, rigging, sails, radar antenna gear, just about every surface on your boat. Brazen gulls will fearlessly squat on your boat, leaving you to contend with corrosive droppings, dead fish parts and nesting materials. Not exactly the image you want for your next party or outing with friend and family. These droppings can also carry any number of diseases. And they're hard to remove, usually requiring sanding.  They can even cause people to slip and fall on deck—especially children.

Solution: If you're on a tight budget and want to protect your boat from invading birds, you might consider using some Visual Bird Scare Deterrents. Many boat owners have tried these with considerable success. They're inexpensive and you can easily attach them all over your boat. Bird Scare Deterrents are basically the banners, flash tape and balloons you see on so many boats. They create an “Optical Distraction Zone” that makes birds really nervous.

The banners and iridescent reflective foil or flash tape are easily attached to your masts, railings, and towers. They reflect sunlight and crackle in the breeze, creating an audio-visual deterrent that will scare birds away—to the other guy's boat. Inflatable bird scare balloons work on the same principle. They feature a giant lifelike reflective predator eye that makes pest birds feel like they're about to be pounced upon. Finally, there are the teardrop-shaped Scare-Eye Diverters, which birds will avoid. They feature the same giant predator eye; in fact, some even have iridescent foil eyes to really give pest birds the creeps. Others scare-eye diverters will feature glow-in-the-dark backsides to keep birds away at night.

The secret to keeping birds away form your boat is to install these scare deterrents in high visibility areas where birds see them. And to do so now, before the birds come to your boat for the summer. Finally, make sure you move these deterrents around from time to time.  Birds will eventually get used to them.

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