Secret to Keeping Seagulls Off Your Boat, Canopy, & Covers
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  • Post last modified:August 3, 2021

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Seagulls are the enemy of all the world’s boat owners. I personally dislike them and have previously joked with my wife about shooting these flying rodents.

Stopping birds from pooping all over the chairs, canvas, canopy, and covers of your boat seems to be an ongoing battle. And if you own a boat lift, chances are that they’ve also made this their new home, leaving their mess all over the place.

But it’s not just the pooping damage to your boat and the irritating stains. The disease is often transmitted by seagulls and can be a health concern. Think of the places where you see them when they’re not on your ship.

They can be seen pecking in bins and around garbage dumps, searching whatever scraps they can. This means that they carry all the nastiness with them when it comes to the seagulls sitting on your ships.

Seagulls, too, are clever, far more than we credit them for. If they find a place they like, particularly if there’s food nearby, then they’ll hang around, and then they’ll call in more reinforcements!

And if that place is your boat, then you not only risk the damage you need to clean up but also put your health at risk as the disease can spread.

So how are you going to keep the seagulls off the boat, the canopy, the rise, the covers? Well, you can try some of the approaches or solutions that follow. Hey, go take a look below.

Keeping Seagulls Off Your Boat

Your ship will either move or be moored or docked, so you need a solution that matches all scenarios.

Your first line of defense should be any shapes that spin and bounce in the wind. It will work just as well with some kind of boat bird deterrent that rotates or has wire legs.

Here are only two of these mechanical devices that you might think of.

1: ScareGull Seagull Sweep

Do your clean-up work before you get started, as I’m sure you have all that seagull poop to get rid of. You will get this bad boy fully operational once that is completed.

Seagulls would not even consider landing on your boat again as the propellers sweep around in the wind. When you’re out on the water or docked, it’ll work.

You don’t need to wire it to the battery of your boat either. It is entirely operated by the wind.

It’s also relatively inexpensive.

Keeping Seagulls Off Your Boat Canopy and Covers

1: Bird B Gone Spider Device

This is a great system, It contains no wiring and no electricity is powered by wind, and looks like a spider. But the legs are small enough that most of the time it is not that visible.

In the wind, the spider legs bounce around to make a great seagull deterrent.

It’s a perfect way to keep seagulls off your canopy, covers, or, if you wish, might even fit it on top of a boat lift.

Then the Bird B Gone spider kit will be the best way to keep these troublesome birds off your mooring covers while docked in a marina or slide too.

I haven’t used this gadget myself, but the Amazon reviews are very impressive, and I’ve seen plenty of boat owners successfully using them.

Check Amazon

Keeping Seagulls Off Your Boat Lift

Static boat lifts are usually used to stick around, create a nuisance, and generally stink the place out with their crap as great places for seagulls.

Here are only a few ways in which you can keep one step ahead of these irritating creatures.

1: Gulls Away

If you have a boat lift on top of it with a canopy, then a product named Gulls Away will be my preferred anti-seagull deterrent.

It is known as being one of the fastest and most successful ways to keep seagulls and their poop off your boat lift!

The best thing I like about it is that it’s not so visible to the naked eye, so nothing can take away from how fantastic your boat lift looks.

Boat lifts such as Daka, Hewitt, Newmans, Pier Fun, RGC, Shoremaster, and several others will operate with this.

The Gulls Away item is simple to mount and offers a fast and easy deterrent for boat birds.

You fix the rods under the roof frame of the boat lift, then pull the clear fishing wires over the end.

The diagonal models deter and discourage birds from landing on the canopy of the boat lift, so your prayers should be answered.

Gulls Away – Check Amazon 

2: Nets and Metal Spikes

Simply imitate what you see occurring on land for a very cheap solution.

You’ve probably seen store owners put spikes and netting over shop doors and signs to avoid birds sitting on customers and pooping.

At a boat lift, marina, or port, you can take the same method.

Seagulls love to sit high, so some kind of parallel wiring, spikes of plastic or steel, or netting can help keep them from taking a break anywhere near you or your ships.

Strategies to Keep Seagulls Away from Boats and Marinas

For boats, boat canopies, and boat lifts, the above seagull deterrents are specifically made. It should work for you, either one or a combination of a couple of solutions.

However, I also came across several other tactics that people use to scare away seagulls and birds on a much larger scale while studying this guide.

I figured it might be a little fun just to mention a few other online anti-bird deterrents and techniques I found, some of which may not be especially helpful on a cruise, marina, or dock.

You can test out some tactics here to help keep seagulls away from marinas and docks.

Some are low-cost solutions that you can set up with very inexpensive goods, whereas others need more technical information.

1: Sheepdogs

This is more of a solution for individuals owning or operating marinas and docks where seagull pooping and infestation issues are faced by berth or slip holders.

Believe it or not, recent research has shown that you can minimize the number of seagulls by up to 99 percent by patrolling with a sheepdog.

And even the best time of the day is here to do it.

You’ll get much better results by patrolling during peak seagull time, which is early in the morning and early in the evening.

It should be noted that the goal here is not for the dog to kill the seagulls but to scare them away instead. The dog will be seen by Seagulls as a predator and steer well clear.

2: Hawks

This is another excellent way to get rid of birds and seagulls at a marina or port.

But it needs someone who has raptor bird handling skills.

This guy has just seen the hawk come up and his days are numbered.

You should be able to hire a falconer to come to any place where there is a significant seagull problem for under $60 an hour.

This technique is widely used in the United States and Canada in landfills and garbage dumps and works exceptionally well.

Since hawks and falcons are extremely terrifying to seagulls and other birds, they are a great deterrent. These annoying sea birds are going to fly abroad, tell their families, and most probably not come back that day.

You can end up spending a lot of money on this solution to keep seagulls off your cherished boat, though, since they will come back the next day. It’s a deterrent for boat birds that needs frequent run-outs.

3: Plastic Owls

Owls dislike seagulls.

They’re the eyes that do that.

What you might try is to buy a few inexpensive plastic owl ornaments, but target those with bright yellow eyes, also known as “terror’s eyes.”

The numbers may be high, but you can beat these guys and have the last laugh.

Although these lawn ornaments would not look fantastic on your boat, if it prevents the seagulls from pooping on the canopy or boat lift while you dock, then a shot is worth it.

As this article from the BBC website shows, it doesn’t always succeed though.

4: Electric Deterrents

Although you’re not going to be able to set up this one on a ship, it could work in a marina or as a way to keep seagulls off a boat lift.

It gives them a very mild electric current shock when a bird lands on the metal track.

It will not kill them, but it will sufficiently irritate them to help ensure that they avoid landing in the specific area where the device is set up.

You will find out more on the manufacturer’s website about how these electric bird deterrents operate.

5: Deterrents That Use Sound, Touch, and Light

Alternatively, using several different gadgets, you can irritate the hell out of those seagulls. Although they’re not going to be an effective tool for keeping seagulls off your ships, you might still find them fascinating.

Maybe now he’ll look smug, just wait until he hears the nasty noise…

Sound cannons and amplifiers, strobe lighting, and even spray-on sticky liquids that seagulls hate landing on are the types of solutions I mean.

The audio deterrents emit noises like hawks and falcons or even seagull distress calls, close to predators.

It is sufficient for seagulls to stress out sufficiently that the manufacturers of these different devices say if they are kept away for longer periods.

6: Reflective Deterrents

Testing some shiny materials might be one way to keep the birds off your chicken. You may have already seen this used by gardeners who are hanging up old CDs to keep birds away.

You can buy special shiny and mirrored tape instead of using old CDs, which would look very tatty, that you could then stick to your boat canopy or boat lift top.

On Amazon, I found a product that claims to run very well and has very good reviews.

It’s called Bird Scare Tape and is widely used to good effect by farmers and landowners all over the world.

7: The Color Red

And finally, it is said that the color red scares off seagulls.

This seagull is afraid, but was it the red color that frightened him away?

Although it has not been scientifically proven, there have been reports in the media that people have kept seagulls this way away from their ships.

On the Guardian website, you can read one such report where a guy in Scotland used bright red paneling on his house to stop nesting seagulls.

Seagulls Spread Diseases

I just wanted to talk a little more about the health implications of not dealing with the seagulls who make your boat their meeting place before wrapping up this guide.

In the first place, the main reason you probably came to this page was that you were sick and tired of your boat cleaning up seagull poop and crap.

But the consequences of a clean-up operation can be far more serious than simply the inconvenience and cost.

There was a recent academic study in which microbiologists at Central Michigan University found that since the late 1970s, seagull populations have grown 10 percent year-over-year in the Great Lakes region.

This was due to how many opportunities the seagulls found to feed, but this increase in the number of birds, also brought a lot of bacterial risks, including boaters, to the local population.

The study found that increased levels of bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia were brought to the local beaches by seagulls.

Upon publishing the results of the study, one microbiologist had this to say:

“They have been involved in some beaches as the primary source of E. From coli. The existence of that bacteria may mean a sewage leak, so when it comes from birds, it confuses water quality tests. But it poses a genuine health risk. Changing how we discard items is the only true way to keep them away.

This is why having a proper bird deterrent technique in place on your boat is so critical.


I hope you have found this guide on how to keep your boat’s seagulls handy.

You’ll find hundreds of other tips if you continue to browse the internet, some of which are unproven, and not all that realistic. Some are even funny.

Not just my personal experiences, but also after talking to and seeing what other boat owners are currently doing effectively, the ideas I have mentioned above come from.

I hope they will get rid of these flying pests for you!

John Allen

With more than a decade of experience cruising the lakes in my Crestliner Grand Cayman pontoon boat and my Boston Whaler, I now want to share everything I've learned with my community here at Boating Hub.

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