Beautiful birds are a hallmark of the mid-Atlantic Spring and Summer seasons and this year they are out in full force. They captivate us with their beautiful colors and lively songs. Did you know there are more than 500 chapters in the National Audubon Society, nationwide, with bird-watching groups all across the country devoted to sightings and habitat study? For many, the hobby brings joy, whether you travel afar to explore favorites, or simply enjoy a view from your own window.
For homeowners who are trying to sell, the perspective may be a bit different. Birds can cause damage to your home when allowed to nest on porches, in attics and eaves, vents, outdoor furniture, and elsewhere. Bird nests, made from flammable materials, can interfere with ventilation, bird droppings can spread diseases, and young hatchlings can invite other more dangerous and unwanted predators.
I represented a seller in a home sale recently, where woodpeckers had hammered through the far side of the home, creating damage that went undiscovered by the owners until their potential buyer’s home inspection occurred. A curious neighbor happened to be outside during the inspection, and when asked, offered his opinion of the matter, noting that certain bird species were a well-established feature of the wooded neighborhood. While this seller was happy to cure the home defect once it presented, the buyers ultimately decided against the sale, and went on to locate a property with fewer trees and birds for their new home.
Another home seller experienced a similar surprise when the home inspector found damage to a home’s attic, including bird droppings and nesting evidence. The last-minute clean up and re-insulation of the attic area prior to settlement, in order to “save the deal,” was more costly for the seller than it would have been had the problem been identified and addressed in advance of the home sale process.
One more short story - last Spring I held an open house during which a harmless 10’ black snake came across the lawn. It created quite a stir amongst the guests. The snake was tempted toward a large tree in the front yard where several birds had nested and laid eggs and the spectacle drew neighbors and onlookers. Needless to say, we did not make a sale that day. (Did you know Animal Control will not remove a snake unless it actually enters your home?)
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There are a few simple and humane things a home seller can do to prevent unwanted birds from interfering with the home sale process.
Many species of birds in our area, including starlings and sparrows, will seek out dryer vents, bathroom vents, and oven vents for nesting. You may hear them chirping or scratching in the spring as they nest and breed. If you suspect you have birds in your vents, check your exterior siding near the vent for evidence of infestation. You may notice droppings on the siding, or a dryer that takes too long or gives a “blocked” warning. While you should always call a professional for specialty removal, a good tip before spring is to install devices over vents to prevent access. Steel wool or screen material can be a deterrent; and there are a number of specialty products that can be permanently affixed over vented areas.
Reflective repellent rods, repellent tape, solar-powered repellers, decoys such as owls or hawks, optical gel, bird-coil, and other visual, audio or taste deterrents can keep birds away from common areas, such as front porches, balconies, decks, and the like. Bird-deterrent systems that use reflected light, sudden motion, or the sound or appearance of a natural predator will deter birds from coming and protect your property from damage during the home sale process.
If birds have already damaged your home, there are a number of bird control experts that can assist. Need a recommendation or thinking about selling? Feel free to contact me, Teri LaBuwi at (703) 451-0222.