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Using an Owl Decoy to Deter Birds and Undesired Wildlife

Updated on July 29, 2013

Solving Pest Problems with an Owl Decoy

I love the outdoors and wildlife, but only up to the point that they become a nuisance. If you are experiencing a problem with birds, rabbits, rodents, or other small animals around your home or garden, then consider using an owl decoy as a deterrent.

Most owl decoys mimic the great horned owl. You might not think so from looking at them, but great horned owls are fierce predators. They have incredibly keen vision, and very sharp talons capable of exerting 300 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) of bone and flesh crushing power.

Almost any living creature that walks, crawls, flies, or swims (with the exception of large mammals) is the great horned owl's legitimate prey.

They predominantly feed on small to medium-sized mammals like rabbits, which are their most common prey. They also feed on any small to moderately sized rodent such as rats, squirrels, flying squirrels, mice, lemmings and more. Other mammals eaten regularly will include shrews, bats, armadillos, muskrats, martens and weasels. The great horned owl is a natural predator of prey two to three times heavier than itself, like porcupines, marmots, and skunks. Even other winged creatures, such as birds, are not excluded from the great horned owls diet.

So if any of these pests are causing problems around your home or garden, then you may want to consider an owl decoy as a possible solution. Some work better than others, so let's take a look at the options available and which ones are the most highly recommended.

(Image Credit to InterRev - This is my personal photo of my owl decoy.)

A Moving Owl Decoy Works Best

I have tried both a solid plastic owl decoy and a moving owl decoy, and can say without a doubt that I had much better success with the electronic owl decoy that periodically moves its head. It is the movement that is detected by the wildlife pests, and that movement will have them heading the other way.

I had a problem with birds building nests on my deck. The deck has an upper and lower level. The birds were building nests on the underside of the upper level, so the lower level was getting covered up with bird droppings. This was a very nasty problem, considering I had patio furniture on the lower level. You couldn't use the table or the chairs, because they always had bird droppings on them. I needed a solution.

I made the decision to purchase the Dalen Gardeneer SRHO-4 Solar Rotating Head Owl.

What drew me to this model was:

  • Lifelike head movement - The head is on a spring that allows it to tilt and wobble.
  • Rotating head - Every two minutes, the head on this electronic owl decoy rotates.
  • Solar powered - No batteries to mess with. This solar powered owl uses the power of the sun for its energy.
  • Visually appealing - They are hand painted for a life-like appearance. Will add to the d├ęcor of your patio or garden.

Dalen Gardeneer SRHO-4 Solar Rotating Head OwlCHECK PRICE

If you choose this model too, I do recommend that you fill the bottom with sand or gravel to give it some weight. This will make it more sturdy and keep it from blowing over in gusty wind.

Deals on Owl Decoys

Here are several selections of owl decoys that all have moving heads for added realism. The Dalen Gardener SRHO-4 has a motorized head, using an embedded solar panel for power. The Easy Gardener 8021 is another model that has a motorized head, but it uses AA batteries for power and also makes a "hooting" sound for added realism.

The remaining models have a motion head that will move even in the slightest breeze.

These are all great options for deterring pests and other wild animals from around your home or garden.

Gardeneer By Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow Rotating Head Owl
Gardeneer By Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow Rotating Head Owl

It's 18 inches tall and hand-painted for realism. The head bobs and turns in even a gentle breeze. Here is a tip for you... move your owl to different locations around your garden or yard every few days. This creates additional realism to keep your pests at bay.

Gardeneer By Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow SOL-R Action Owl
Gardeneer By Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow SOL-R Action Owl

This is the model that I purchased and have been pleased with. There is a solar panel on top of its head that powers this owl decoy, turning its head every two minutes. The head tilts and bobs for a realistic effect. No batteries required.

Easy Gardener 8021 Garden Defense Electronic Sensor Owl
Easy Gardener 8021 Garden Defense Electronic Sensor Owl

Triggered by any of 4 motion sensors, this electronic owl decoy will turn its head toward the motion and hoots for a realistic effect. It is powered by three AA batteries.


Video of Solar Powered Owl Decoy

Here is a video showing a solar powered owl decoy in action. Since it is solar powered, there are no batteries to worry about, so you can set it up and let it do its thing. You can see how the movement from the head can attract attention and deter those unwanted pests from around your home or garden.

Owl Decoy Poll

Have you ever used an owl decoy to deter animals from around your home or garden?

See results

Leave a comment below about these owl decoys, or just say "Hi" and let me know you were here!

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    • profile image

      Joe 19 months ago

      We have tree squirrel problems in our neighborhood. The solar powered

      moving-head horned owl does not work. Squirrels are dumb.

    • Whatsittoyou profile image

      Whatsittoyou 4 years ago from Canada

      We get birds on the balcony of our apartment building. My grandma had bought an owl decoy to keep them away. It worked at first but after awhile the birds were actually snuggling up next to it. These new moving style would be so much more effective.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 4 years ago from Connecticut

      I don't have an owl decoy but a screech owl that moved into one of our birdhouses. There are lots of voles and other small critters in the gardens and woodlands to keep them busy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago funny .... interesting addition to the yard :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      It was a long time before I realized why there were owls in the top of the football stadium and for years I thought they were real.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      We have great horned owls where I live, and I've seen them on buildings occasionally. A few times I realized it was a fake one, to deter birds such as pigeons and seagulls.

    • Protasker profile image

      Barbara 4 years ago from USA

      I've seen owls like this and wondered why people had them, now I know, Thanks!

    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      What a great idea! We have a smaller owl in Hawaii and the great horned owl decoy that we've used worked well, except my kids kept moving it. The solar version sounds perfect.

    • wiseriverman profile image

      wiseriverman 4 years ago


    • vegetablegardenh profile image

      vegetablegardenh 4 years ago

      I had no idea that there are "solar rotating head owls" out there! LOL. Gotta get one of those for sure! :)

    • AceofHearts profile image

      AceofHearts 4 years ago

      Thanks for the good advice.