Homestead Hack: Keeping Birds Off Railings

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

RancherMan & I love the native birds, albeit not all the bird poop they leave on the porch. All those birds were landing on (and POOPING on) our porch railings. What a mess!

Come see the oh-so-simple Homestead Hack solution we came up with!

Texas Homesteader Homestead Hack Tricks. #TexasHomesteader

Enjoying Native Birds In Our Yard

We have a bird feeder out back that we keep filled so we can enjoy all those beautiful, cheery birds. 

(be sure to check out my Bird-Feeding Homestead Hack where I share how we keep ’em fed on the CHEAP!) 

I fill our pretty bird feeder with cheap chicken scratch instead of expensive wild bird seed. #TexasHomesteader

And as you may already know, recently RancherMan & I had a porch extension built. We spend lots of time out there enjoying the birds and the scenery. 

But ugh, the birds use the railings as their perch. And there was always mounds of poop building up along the railings and on top of the built-in benches too. Until…

How To Eliminat Bird Poop On A Porch Railing?

I don’t want to reduce the amount of birds frequenting our back yard. I really enjoy watching them.

There are always a wide variety of birds near our feeder. And they nest nearby too, raising their young. Oh how I love it all!

But I needed to be able to easily steer them away from using our porch railings as a stopping point. But how?

How do you keep birds (and their POOP) off your porch or deck railings? We came up with a simple, CHEAP solution that works like a charm! #TexasHomesteader

In a perfect world I’d be able to enjoy the porch & that gorgeous view and still keep everything looking natural. We’d be able to entertain guests out there, looking over a beautiful horizon and maybe sipping a cold glass of iced tea. It was the perfect entertaining spot after all.

But how do I keep the birds we love from pooping all over the railings?

Bird Poop Makes A Mess On Porch Railings

As you see in the photo below, all those birds leave a little something behind as they congregate on the railings. And with so many of them, there was lots of poop let me tell ya!

How do you keep birds (and bird POOP) off your porch or deck railings? We came up with a simple, CHEAP solution that works like a charm! #TexasHomesteader

So even with constant cleaning of the bird droppings, it was always back within minutes. How disgusting!

A constant, never ending chore. Especially if we would be entertaining guests there.

And heaven forbid unexpected company showed. That meant I’d have to stutter my apologies as I did my best to quickly clean a place for our guests to sit.

And then remind them not to rest their arm on the rail. Ewwwwww. How embarrassing. But what’s the solution?  Hummm…

How To Stop Birds From Perching On Porch Railing

I needed a way to enjoy the birds in the yard but discourage them from our porch. But how?

Well, what if I ran a string along the rails about 4″ high between the porch’s poles? Yeah! That might make landing on our porch rail less attractive to them.

They’ll try to land but with a string above the rail they won’t be able to actually land on the rail. And with a 2″ to 3″ gap between the rail and the string they won’t be able grip the string with their feet either.

Their weight may push the string down but not enough to touch the rail to give them a more solid footing. Hopefully that way they’ll give up and perch elsewhere! 

I asked RancherMan what string he’d like me to use and he said “Why don’t we just use fishing line? It’s cheap, it’s easy and it will be almost invisible!”

Why RancherMan, that’s brilliant! Let’s give it a try.

Using Fishing Line To Discourage Birds

So we took some inexpensive fishing line and wrapped it around the first post and strung it tightly to the second post, running it about 2″ to 3″ above the rail. 

We stretched the fishing line tightly & tied it to the first post. Then we ran another line between that post and the next. 

As you can see by the photo below, the fishing line really is almost invisible! So it doesn’t detract from the beauty of our view of our yard nor watching the beautiful birds at our feeder.

How do you keep birds (and bird POOP) off your porch or deck railings? We came up with a simple, CHEAP solution that works like a charm! #TexasHomesteader

Would The Fishing Line Trick Work?

But would our little fishing line hack actually work? Would the birds find a way around our barrier?

Perhaps they are too smart for our little trick and they’ll lite on the edge of the rail instead? Or maybe the fishing line will stretch enough to sag all the way to the rail under the bird’s weight and make no difference at all.

So to observe the effectiveness, RancherMan & I sat on our porch swing to see if our little trick would work. Since the birds are used to us being out there they will tropically flitter about the porch area even in our presence.

So we enjoyed the afternoon with a glass of iced tea and watched the birds coming and going. But none would lite on the railings. EUREKA! It seemed to like a charm.

Next we evaluated the effectiveness when we weren’t outside with the  birds. That way there would be even more birds flittering around to test the string solution even more.

But even over the next several days, nary a single bird dropping was to be found on our porch rail.

Tips For Successful Fishing-Line Rail Runs

I feel there are a few secrets to success for running this fishing line along a rail to keep birds off:

      • Fishing line should be run about 2″ high from the railing

      • Line must be pulled tight so it won’t sag to the rail if landed upon by birds.

      • Distance between posts should be 6-ft or closer – no long runs.

This is the perfect solution for us. There are still lots of birds in the back yard for us to enjoy, but they stay away from the porch now.

And because the fishing line’s almost invisible it doesn’t detract at all from the beauty of our porch. Now the bird poop won’t detract from our enjoyment of our porch either!


This post categorized in  All our native Texas plant and wildlife posts. #TexasHomesteader 

Tagged in Complete list of our handy Homestead Hacks. #TexasHomesteader  Posts about Texas birds. #TexasHomesteader     

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19 thoughts on “Homestead Hack: Keeping Birds Off Railings

  1. Donna

    I’m concerned about a bird getting hurt while trying to land on our fence. Have you ever seen a bird get tangled in the fishing line? Since it is almost invisible to us, it surely is to them as well. Could they be hurt by it? I would like to try it, but I don’t want to hurt the birds.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Never, Donna. The premise here is a single line drawn taunt along the length of the rail as opposed to a net where a bird’s foot might become entrapped or entangled. They’ve only attempted to land on the rail, not found solid footing there and moved on. I’ve never once had a bird injured, just encouraged to land elsewhere with more solid footing. ~TxH~

  2. Leila

    I tried this. It WORKED!!!! Thank you!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      You’re right, it works beautifully for cheap. And without changing your own view from your patio. Win/win! Sometimes the simplest things are best. 🙂 ~TxH~

  3. Dhananjay

    Great Post!, Thank you so much, I am going to implement it soon.

    I was using spikes on the railing but a couple of times it slightly hurt my wife 🙂 not enough to make her mind kill me 🙂 so I looked for other options like bird repellent, tying CD, mesh was not an option for me, (rubber snake, owl keeps them away only for few days, pigeons are smart enough to find the difference between toys and real ones).

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve never had to try this against such big birds. For my smaller sparrow to cardinal-sized birds string the fishing line about 3-fingers high and I tie the line tight enough that they don’t land on the line and have it just weigh down with their body weight and touch the railing. The key (in my case) is make it high and tight enough that they can’t weigh down the string yet not so high they can just perch beneath it. Pigeons are large, heavy birds. So you’ll want to make each line run as short a run as possible and tight as you can without stretching/breaking the line. Your ability to make shorter spaces between tie-offs (depending upon how far apart your posts to tie off on are) may be the only way you can successfully discourage them from landing on your rails. Good luck, pigeons can be quite the poop-producing nuisance. Ha! ~TxH~

  4. Carol

    Wow!!!! I was so tired of scrubbing my deck railing almost every day so I though I would try this… I did find some fishing line in my garage, had a few “push pins” so.. hoping my knots hold I strung this right next to my hanging bird feeder attached to my deck railing last night. Normally when I get up in the morning my bird feeder is full of birds and a line of them waiting their turn, THERE WERE NO BIRDS ON THE RAILING!!!!! WOO HOO!!!!! Thank you Thank you! Carol

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      It’s works amazingly, doesn’t it Carol? This fishing-line tip works wonders for us too. And the fishing line is almost invisible so it doesn’t even detract from the view either. Enjoy your new (cleaner) deck! 🙂 ~TxH~

  5. Joann

    My deck rails are covered in bird mess so I tried this and it didn’t work. I even put two rows and they actually sat right on the fishing line! Some smaller birds sat under it. I cannot stand birds!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh I’m so sorry to hear that Joann. It made an immediate difference when I did it years ago, and the same line is installed even now. Others have written to me that they’re amazed they finally can keep their railings clean – I’ve never heard anyone say it was ineffective for them. Just grasping at straws here, maybe the difference is the length span of the rails, or how tight (or loose) the line is? Mine is tight enough to be taunt but loose enough that if a bird tried to land on the line it may sag some but maintain tension to try to spring back, making it impossible for a bird to stand on it. Maybe experiment with different heights of your line as well as different tensions? Good luck! ~TxH~

  6. Alicia

    WOW… what a great idea and so inexpensive. I have fishing line, and You gave me the straight insite for keeping birds off the railing. I can’t wait to do this in my own yard. THANK YOU!!! Looks so Good.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      And it’s almost invisible to us too Alicia. As a matter of fact when company sits out there and they lean back & rest their arm on the rail they’re surprised to see there’s fishing line there. They don’t even notice it that close up! And the rail used to be completely covered with bird poop, but now it stays clean with no scrubbing from me. Yippee! ~TxH~

  7. Neil Smerling

    Great idea!! Did you run the fishing line along the outside of the top rail? Or down the center? It’s hard to tell from the picture. Thanks!!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I ran the fishing line right along the top middle of the rail, about 2″ up. The birds would try to land on the rail but couldn’t, so they’d fly off somewhere else. It’s worked like a charm! ~TxH~

  8. Laurinda

    That is really clever! I need to remember that one (we have a 5 year plan to homestead)

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve been really pleased at its outcome, Laurinda. Not only was it quick, but fishing line is inexpensive AND it barely even shows, so it doesn’t even look out of place. ~TxH~

  9. ColleenB.~Tx.

    Awesome idea and the fishing line will last longer than the string would have, plus it’s almost invisable

    1. Aline

      Great idea! Can you show the ends – what did you tie them to?

      1. Texas Homesteader Post author

        Our railings go from post to post. Each post sticks up just a bit higher than the railing itself. If you’ll look at one of the pics in this article you can see the post. I simply string the fishing line from post to post, just a couple of inches above the railing. Then I tie each piece of fishing line tautly to the post and ran another length of fishing line from that post to the next until I have fishing line tightly strung just a few inches above all the railings. Be sure to string it tightly & high enough that it offers resistance when a bird tries to land on it – too low or too loose and they’ll just push the line down when they land & sit on top of it (on the railing! LOL) I’m amazed at how well this works. ~TxH~


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