While some birds are beneficial to us through their production of down feathers, control of pests, control of weeds, and providing us with the opportunity for birdwatching, they can be detrimental to our homes and our health. Besides being a general nuisance, some birds can cause damage to buildings and monuments, contaminate food sources, and transmit diseases that can be serious to humans.
Three of the most common nuisance birds that can cause these issues to humans are pigeons, sparrows, and starlings. Here is a look at each of these nuisance birds, as well as some tips to prevent and exclude them.
Pigeons are the most common nuisance bird and are also responsible for the worst public health concerns caused by birds.
Adult pigeons are about a foot in length and weigh about 13 ounces. They are blue-grey in color with iridescent feathers on their heads and necks. Pigeons have short necks, small heads, and short legs.
Pigeons prefer to nest in small, flat areas that are off the ground (e.g. ledges, air conditioning units, pipes, and window sills). They eat a varied diet, consuming anything from grains and livestock feed to discarded food scraps and manure. They must have water daily to survive.
Pigeons can cause serious problems wherever they are. Large flocks of pigeons can be a nuisance in public places. Their feces can not only deface and deteriorate buildings and other structures but can also cause slipping hazards on stairs, sidewalks, and fire escapes. Their droppings and debris from their nests can clog downspouts and machinery. Pigeons carry numerous diseases including histoplasmosis.
Pigeons adapt easily to their environments, including those that are manmade. They will travel up to 5 miles between their nesting and roosting sites, making it very difficult to get an established flock to move. Their homing capabilities allow them to easily find their way back to their original nesting sites.
House sparrows are not actually true sparrows; they actually belong to a family called weaver finches. They are stocky, small birds about 5 to 6 inches in length and weighing about 1 ounce. They have conical bills with brown grey feathers. Males have a black throat and white crown while females have a white throat and a dull eye stripe.
Sparrows build extremely messy nests out of anything they can find (string, twigs, paper, grass). They prefer to make their nests in covered, elevated areas like warehouses, airport hangars, and stadiums.
Sparrows primarily eat grain but have also been known to eat fruit, seeds, insects, and food scraps. They have become extremely dependent on humans for both food and shelter. They nest, roost, and feed in large groups within 1 to 2 miles of each other.
Sparrows can be difficult to control because of their ability to rapidly reproduce. They are extremely aggressive and will often drive out other desirable bird species from the area. When they nest in electrical areas they can cause electrical shorts and fires. When they congregate in poultry and hog farms they cause potential contamination threats. Sparrows have been associated with over 25 diseases and ectoparasites.
Starlings are an introduced species that cause problems in both urban and rural areas. Adult starlings are about 8 inches in length and weigh about 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 ounces. They have short tails and long bills. In the winter, starlings have dark bills and iridescent coats speckled with white dots. In the summer, starlings have yellow bills with duller coats that are mostly purple and green in color and are less speckled.
Starlings travel in flocks that can number into the thousands. They nest and feed in a variety of areas. When they nest in urban areas they tend to frequent trees, exhaust vents, marquees, ledges, lighted signs, hollow lampposts, billboards, soffits, and dryer and stove vents. In rural areas they tend to nest in farm building ledges and tree cavities.
Starlings feed on a variety of things depending on what season it is and what food sources are available. They are known to eat seeds, fruit, food scraps, insects, fruit, and vegetables.
Starlings can be problematic because of their intense vocalization, especially when their flocks grow to such large numbers. Their fecal accumulation can also be problematic because of the sheer volume. Starlings are very aggressive and can drive out other bird species. Their feces can deface and deteriorate buildings and other structures; can cause slipping hazards; can contaminate livestock feed; and can kill trees. They leave nesting materials behind that can clog machinery, cause drainage problems, and clutter structures. These blocked vents can also lead to moisture buildup, odor issues, and potential fire risks. They are known to carry serious diseases like histoplasmosis.
Each of these nuisance birds can be hard to control or eliminate once their flock is established. Prevention and elimination is key to helping control these bird populations. Here are some bird prevention and exclusion tips you can use to help control these problematic pests.
- Discourage people from feeding these birds in public areas.
- Clean up any spilled grain or feed daily.
- Make food and water sources as inaccessible as possible.
- Block building openings such as lofts, vents, eaves, window sills, and steeples) with wood, metal, glass, masonry, wire mesh, plastic or nylon.
- Change ledge angles to 45 degrees or more as this discourages roosting.
- Place netting over ornamental architecture.
- Screen the underside of rafters with netting or wire mesh screening.
- Install a permanent mechanical bird repellent like bird spikes to help eliminate roosting.
If you have a nuisance bird problem, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a customized inspection and treatment plan for your situation.
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While It’s true there are plenty of snakes that play a vital role in our ecosystem that we should protect and preserve, there are also venomous species in areas that can pose a serious threat to human life. It’s important to be cautious of these species as they start coming out of hibernation for the summer. Here are a few venomous snakes that are common in our area and how to identify them.
Water moccasins have a triangular head. They are considered to be heavy-bodied and vary in coloration. These snakes can be active both during the day and night but tend to feed in the dark. They are found throughout the entire southeast U.S., typically near cypress swamps, river floodplains, and heavily vegetated wetlands.
Light brown to tan in color, copperheads can be easily recognized by the hourglass-shaped crossbands along their bodies. These snakes can be found throughout the eastern and central U.S., living in a variety of habitats. Copperheads are comfortable in dry, rocky areas, forested areas, or even wetlands. It is even possible to catch copperheads in suburban neighborhoods with patches of forest.
Timber rattlesnakes are considered unique as they are active both day and night. They typically like to hibernate during cold weather but become active in late spring and remain so until late fall. These snakes are big, heavy-bodied, and can grow up to 6 feet in length. They are found in the eastern U.S. where you can spot them residing in forests, mountainous areas, rural habitats in farming areas and even near swamps and river floodplains.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern diamondbacks are dark brown in color and have a row of diamond shapes patterned on their bodies that are outlined by a yellowish border. Diamondbacks measure 3 to 5 feet but can reach up to 7 feet in length. These venomous snakes are active during the day but are most commonly seen in the mornings and evenings in the summer months. They often inhabit dry sandy areas, pinewoods, coastal dune habitats, and flatwoods. They typically avoid areas that are wet but will live along edges of swamps.
With this information in mind, it’s important to be aware and be cautious of these venomous snakes while outdoors enjoying your summer! Remember, however, to please be conscious that in certain states it is illegal to kill venomous snakes. If you realize you have a snake in or around your house, it’s best to contact a local wildlife control company who can safely remove the offending pest.
With the warmer weather ever so present, it’s the perfect time to take up or get back into gardening if it’s been a while. Though, gardens can benefit your entire family, they can also be a major attraction to pests and wildlife. Birds such as crows, pigeons, sparrows, robins, and starlings are a few that are drawn to food sources found around your home. Fortunately, there are some easy DIY prevention tips to help prevent birds from destroying your fruits and vegetables!
If you need a quick and easy way to keep birds away, you can place everyday objects found in your home around or in your garden. Objects such as, CDs, aluminum cans, tin foil, small mirrors, or even metallic wrapping paper can discourage birds from entering unwanted areas. Light reflections discourage birds from returning to these areas. Aluminum foil is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep birds away. Birds typically don’t like the feeling of foil under their beaks. Place strips of aluminum foil from trees or high points around your garden.
A fun and decorative approach to keeping birds away is to invest in some garden balls. Garden balls are a natural bird repellent that are round and colorful. They can be placed in or around your garden or hung in trees, fence posts, and stakes. Garden balls are multipurpose, as they are great for decorating your garden but will also confuse birds away from the area.
Another method is to place bird spikes around your home and garden. Bird spikes are long, needle-like rods used to keep birds away from certain areas. Birds find these spikes very uncomfortable and will avoid landing on them. You can also create these spikes by using plastic cans and place them in the dirt or attach them to the wire of windowsills, overhangs, or fences.
If you try these DIY methods but still have issues with birds, you should contact your local pest control company who specializes in wildlife control. They will be able to evaluate and determine the best measures to prevent birds from returning.
Homeowners can all agree that the idea of having rats inside your home can be very alarming! These rodents can easily sneak into your basement, walls, and even in kitchen cabinets. At first, rats may not reveal themselves to you. However, there are a few clues to look for when you start to suspect you might have rats roaming inside your house.
One sign that you possibly have rats is seeing gnawing marks. Rats are known to sneak behind walls and gnaw on wires. This can be especially dangerous as it can increase the risk of a fire in the home. Make sure to check out any exposed wood inside or around your house for gnawing marks.
Another common sign of rats is seeing their nests. Rats usually prefer to nest underground or in attics and you’ll typically find them in dark secluded areas hidden from any possible disturbances. They commonly build their nests using paper products like cotton, fabrics, wall insulation, or any soft material found in the environment. Rats are also known to leave tracks or rub marks throughout your home while following a trail from their nest to food sources. They will usually leave dark grease or dirt marks along walls and floorboards.
A major sign you’ve got a rat infestation is seeing their droppings. Rat droppings usually measure around 1/8-1/4” long and are generally left behind randomly, but are often found in places where food is stored, such as cabinets or pantries. You can also find droppings inside cardboard boxes, along baseboards, and even on top of wall beams. Seeing rat droppings could indicate that its time get rodent control help from a professional pest control company. Professionals are able to inspect the home and begin the best method of treatment.
Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia), also known as “Murder Hornets” have now been found in the United States for the first time ever. Although scientists are unsure when or how these pests first arrived, there have been verified sightings as far back as December in Washington state. These hornets were also discovered back in August 2019 in Canada in both British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
Asian Giant Hornets are larger than typical species of hornets with an average length of 1.5 to 2 inches. They have large yellow to orange heads with prominent eyes. They also have yellow/orange and black stripes extending down their abdomen.
“Murder hornets” are known to be aggressive. While they don’t typically go after humans, they will attack if they are disturbed or threatened. Their stingers are longer and more dangerous than those of bees and are even capable of penetrating typical beekeeper suits. They will attack aggressively in groups and their collective stings can administer enough toxic venom to be equivalent to the bite from a venomous snake. Multiple stings to a person can be fatal. In fact, these hornets are known to kill up to 50 people per year in Japan.
The life cycle of the Asian Giant Hornet begins in April prompting concern from scientists and researchers that a wave of these predators is imminent. Queens will soon be emerging from hibernation in search of new locations for underground nests. Once these are established, workers will be sent out in search of food for the newfound colony. This usually happens in late summer and early fall.
These “murder hornets” are a significant predator to honeybees, one of the most important pollinators in the United States. In fact, Asian Giant Hornets are capable of wiping out an entire honeybee hive in a matter of a few hours. The worker hornets will decapitate the bees and bring their thoraces back to the colony to feed their young. This is problematic for the US as honeybee and other pollinator populations are already on the decline. Pollinators increase the United States’ annual crop values by $15 billion.
Because of this threat to the honeybee population, scientists are actively searching for Asian Giant Hornets and their nests to keep their population from becoming established and completely eradicating the bee population here. The fact that these hornets’ nests are often found underground coupled with the ideal and vast climate and landscape of Washington state, tracking down these nests is quite difficult. Scientists have mapped out search grids and are moving painstakingly across the state in search of these pests. They are placing traps with geotagging and implementing geothermal imaging of the forest floors. They also have plans to try other methods in the future such as tracking the signature hum the hornets make when they are in flight and tagging and tracking any hornets that are caught in the traps.
While the “murder hornets” don’t pose an immediate threat to the Southeast states right now, it’s important to be aware of the destruction they can cause. For any questions regarding bees or other pests, contact a Northwest team member at (888) 466-7849 or request a free estimate now.
With warmer weather here, many animals are beginning to emerge from hibernation and are ready to roam. Unfortunately for many homeowners, that means you may need to start protecting your home from wildlife entering. Pests such as squirrels, mice, raccoons, and more are in search of food and water, two things that can be easily found in your home.
There are a few signs that you can look for if you suspect that you have wildlife inside your home. The first is hearing noises. Some animals tend to sneak in-between walls or find their way up into attics. You can hear them running in your attic or hear scratching noises inside your walls. If you hear these noises and happen to see small openings in walls, it is most likely that these animals are inside your house.
Another sign to look for is seeing droppings from animals. Places to look for these droppings include basements, along baseboards, or even in pantries. Animal droppings can be considered very dangerous as their feces can contaminate the air in your home. The contaminated air contains spores that develop from the fungus grown in animals’ fecal matter, causing illness if breathed in.
Keeping wildlife out of your home can be challenging but with these wildlife prevention tips you can lessen your chance of seeing these animals inside your home.
- Clean out your gutters
- Bring all pet food inside the house and keep them in sealed containers
- Trim back all trees from the roofline of your house
- Keep outdoor trash in tightly sealed containers
- Caulk and seal up entrances around your home
- Remove bird feeders as they can attract squirrels and other animals to your home
Depending on the pest, it’s always best to have a customized plan for removal. Make sure to call your local pest control company who can inspect and create a plan to remove and prevent these animals.