Seagulls are the scourge of boat owners all across the world. I hate them personally and have previously spoken on Pontoonopedia how I joked to my wife that I felt like shooting these flying rats.
Stopping them from pooping all over your boat’s seats, canvas, canopy, and covers seems to be an on-going battle. And if you own a boat lift, chances are they have made this their new home too, leaving their mess all over the place.
But it’s not just the pooping damage and stains on your boat that are annoying. Seagulls also spread disease and can be a health hazard. Think about the places you see them when they aren’t on your boat.
They will be found pecking around trash dumps and in bins, finding whatever scraps they can. This means that when it comes to the seagulls sitting on your boat, they bring all that nastiness with them.
Seagulls are intelligent too, far more than we give them credit for.
If they find a place that they like, especially if there’s food nearby, then they will stick around, and then call in further reinforcements!
And if that place is your boat, then not only are you risking damage that you need to clean up, but also placing your health at risk as they potentially spread disease.
So how do you keep seagulls off your boat, canopy, lift, and covers?
Well, you can try any of the following methods or solutions. Go take a look below.
How to Keep Seagulls Off a Boat
Your boat’s either moving or will be moored or docked, so you need a solution that suits both scenarios.
Any shapes that spin and bounce in the wind should be your first line of defence. Any type of boat bird deterrent that rotates or has wire legs will work just as well.
Here are just two such mechanical devices you could consider.
#1: ScareGull Seagull Sweep
This is exactly the same device that I use on my pontoon boat. I’ve used it for a year now with zero complaints.
I think you will love it too and you can read the reviews on Amazon.
Before you get started, do your clean up job, as I am sure you’ve got all that seagull poop to get rid of. Once that’s done you can get this bad boy fully operational.
As the propellers sweep around in the wind, seagulls won’t even consider landing on your boat again. It will work whilst you’re out on the water or docked up.
You don’t need to wire it up to your boat battery either. It is fully wind powered.
It’s relatively cheap too.
How to Keep Seagulls Off Your Boat Canopy
#2: Bird B Gone Spider Device
This device also involves no wiring and no power, is wind operated and looks like a spider. But the legs are thin enough that it’s not that noticeable most of the time.
The spider legs bounce around in the wind creating a fantastic seagull deterrent – go take a look at the photos on Amazon plus some prices.
It’s great way to keep seagulls off your boat canopy, covers, or could even fit it on top of a boat lift too if you wish.
I’ve personally not tried this device, but the Amazon reviews are very impressive, and I’ve seen loads of boat owners using these successfully.
How to Keep Seagulls Off Boat Covers
For keeping these pesky birds off your mooring covers when docked in a marina or slip, then the Bird B Gone spider device would be the best approach.
You can see that product above.
How to Keep Seagulls Off Your Boat Lift & Canopy
Static boat lifts are commonly used as great places for seagulls to hang around, cause a nuisance, and generally stink the place out with their crap.
Here’s just a couple of ways you can stay one step ahead of these annoying critters.
#3: Gulls Away
If you have a boat lift with a canopy on top of it, then my recommended anti-seagull deterrent would be a product called Gulls Away (view Amazon prices).
It’s renowned as being one of the easiest and most effective ways in which you can keep seagulls off your boat lift, as well as their poop!
The great thing I like about it is that to the naked eye it’s not that noticeable so won’t take anything away from how good your boat lift looks.
It can work with boat lifts such as Daka, Hewitt, Newmans, Pier Pleasure, RGC, Shoremaster, and many others.
It’s dead simple to assemble, as you can see from the diagram below.
You fix the rods below the boat lift roof frame, and then pull the transparent fishing wires over the top.
The diagonal patterns discourage and deter birds from landing on the boat lift canopy so should be the answer to your prayers.
#4: Spikes & Nets
For a very cheap solution simply mimic what you see happening on land.
You’ve probably seen store owners place spikes and netting above shop doors and signage to stop birds sitting and pooping on customers.
You can take exactly the same approach on a boat lift, marina, or dock.
Seagulls love sitting on high spots, so any type of parallel wiring, plastic or steel spikes, or netting will help to deter them from taking a break anywhere near you or your boats.
Methods for Keeping Seagulls Away from Boats & Marinas
The above seagull deterrents are specifically designed for boats, boat canopies, and boat lifts. Either one or a combination of a couple of solutions should work for you.
However, whilst researching this guide I also stumbled across a variety of other methods that people are using to scare away seagulls and birds on a far larger scale.
I thought it would be a little fun just to list a few other anti-bird deterrents and methods that I found online, some of which might not be particularly helpful on a boat, marina, or dock.
Some are low cost solutions which you can set-up with very cheap items, others require more advanced expertise.
This is more of a solution for people who own or manage marinas and docks where berth or slip holders are experiencing seagull pooping and infestation problems.
Believe it or not, recent research has shown that by patrolling with a sheepdog you can reduce the number of seagulls by up to 99%.
And there’s even a best time of day to do it.
By patrolling during peak seagull time which is early in the morning and early in the evening, you will get far better results.
It’s worth mentioning that the intention here isn’t for the dog to kill the seagulls, but instead to scare them away. Seagulls will see the dog as a predator and steer well clear.
#2: Hawks or Falcons
This is another great way to rid a marina or dock of birds and seagulls.
But it requires someone with expertise in raptor bird handling.
For under $60 an hour you should be able to employ a falconer to come along to any site where there is a severe seagull problem.
This method is commonly used at landfill and trash dumps in the United States and Canada and works extremely well.
Because hawks and falcons scare the living daylights out of seagulls. They will fly away, tell their friends, and most likely not return that day.
However, you might end up spending quite a lot of money on this solution to keeping seagulls off boats, because the next day they will probably come back. It’s a boat bird deterrent that requires daily run-outs.
#3: Scary Plastic Owls
Seagulls hate owls.
It’s the eyes that do it.
What you could try is buying a few cheap plastic owl ornaments but aim for the ones with bright yellow eyes – also known as “terror eyes”.
Whilst these lawn ornaments aren’t going to look great sat on your boat, if it stops the seagulls from pooping on the canopy or boat lift whilst your docked, then it’s worth a shot.
It doesn’t always work though, as this report from the BBC website shows.
#4: Electric Bird Deterrents
Whilst you won’t be able to set this one up on a boat, it could work on a marina or as a way to keep seagulls off a boat lift.
When a bird lands on the metal track is gives them a very mild electric current shock.
It won’t kill them but will irritate them enough to help ensure they will stop landing on the particular area where the system is set-up.
You can find out more about how these electric bird deterrents work on this manufacturer website.
#5: Sound, Touch, & Light Deterrents
Alternatively, you can irritate the heck out of those seagulls using a variety of different gadgets. Whilst they won’t really be a suitable method to keep seagulls off your boat, you might still find them of interest.
The types of solutions I mean include sound cannons and amplifiers, strobe lighting, and even spray on sticky liquids that seagulls hate landing on.
The audio deterrents emit sounds similar to predators such as hawks and falcons, or even seagull distress calls.
It’s enough to freak seagulls out enough that the manufacturers of these various devices claim if keeps them away for longer periods of time.
#6: Reflective Materials
One way in which you keep birds off your bird could be to test out some shiny materials. You might have seen this already used by gardeners who hang up old CDs to keep birds away.
Rather than using old CDs, which will look very tatty, you can buy special shiny and mirrored tape which you could then stick to your boat canopy or boat lift top.
I found a product on Amazon which claims to work quite well and has very good reviews.
It’s called Bird Scare Tape (view Amazon prices) and is commonly used by farmers and property owners all around the world to good effect.
#7: The Color Red
And finally, the color red is said to scare off seagulls.
Whilst it hasn’t been scientifically proven, there have been reports in the press where people have kept seagulls away from their boats this way.
You can read one such report on The Guardian website where a guy in Scotland used bright red panelling on his house to stop seagulls from nesting.
How Seagulls Can Spread Diseases
Before wrapping up this guide, I just wanted to talk a little more about the health implications of not dealing with the seagulls who are making your boat their meeting place.
The main reason you probably came to this page in the first place was because you were sick and tired of cleaning up seagull poop and crap from your boat.
But the consequences can be way more serious than simply the inconvenience and cost of a clean-up operation.
There was a recent academic study where microbiologists at the Central Michigan University found that seagull populations have been growing in the Great Lakes region by 10% year in year since the late 1970s.
This was part in due to how much opportunity the seagulls found to feed, but with this increase in the bird numbers, it also brought a lot of bacterial risks to the local population, including boaters.
The study found that seagulls were bringing increased levels of bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia to the local beaches.
One microbiologist had this to say upon release of the study’s findings:
“For some beaches they’ve been implicated as the primary source of E. coli. That bacteria’s presence can indicate a sewage leak, so it confuses water quality tests when it comes from birds. But it poses a real health risk. The only real way to keep them away is to change how we discard things.”
This is why it’s so important to put a proper bird deterrent method in place on your boat.
I hope that you have found this guide on how to keep seagulls off your boat handy.
If you continue to browse through the web you will find loads of other suggestions, some of which are unproven, and not always that practical.
The ideas I have outlined above come from not just my own personal experiences, but also after speaking to and seeing what other boat owners are currently doing successfully.
I hope you can get rid of them!