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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Some birds are beautiful and fun to watch, while others can be downright annoying and destructive. While birds aren’t typically considered a nuisance pest, they can become a problem when their nests obstruct important areas in your house, their droppings carry transmittable diseases, or they get into your attic or chimney.
Understanding what nuisance birds are attracted to is the first step in helping to prevent them. Pest birds such as crows, pigeons, sparrows, robins, and starlings are attracted to food sources they can find around your home (insects, earthworms, corn, seeds, and rotten fruits and vegetables). Woodpeckers are also a common nuisance bird and will drill into your trees in search of carpenter ants, beetles, and other wood-boring insects.
Birds can be attracted to pet food which is often left outside all day for them to feast on. Birds also require water to survive and will use your fountain, water feature, or any other standing water on your property as a birdbath.
While professional bird control is always an option, there are some bird prevention tips you can use at home to help keep birds away. Here are 5 of our favourite DIY bird-repellent methods.
1. Modify Their Habitats
If there isn’t anything in your yard to attract birds, they will be less likely to hang around.
Most birds require freshwater to survive. Substitute saltwater for freshwater in your fountains and water features so birds won’t be able to drink from them. If you feed your pets outdoors, remove or cover their food and water dishes as soon as they’re done with them. Make sure pet food is kept in airtight containers.
Birds also like to take cover in grass and other landscaping, especially in windy or stormy conditions.
Make sure grass is kept mowed, and hedges and trees are kept trimmed to help reduce cover. If you see a bird actively building a nest, use a long stick to dismantle it. Once you do this a few times, the bird will move on to a new nesting site.
If the nest is already built or occupied by the bird, don’t attempt bird nest removal yourself. There are laws in each state regulating the removal of bird nests. Contact a professional wildlife exclusion company to help properly remove or relocate the bird’s nest in question.
2. Aluminum Foil
One of the easiest and cheapest natural bird repellents is aluminum foil. There are several different ways you can use aluminum foil to keep birds away. If birds are disturbing your garden, you can place strips of aluminum foil under the surface of the dirt or around any plants they are bothering. Birds don’t like the feel of the foil under their beaks and will stay away.
You can also hang strips of aluminum foil (or shiny party streamers) from the trees or other high points around your home and garden. The sun reflects off the shiny surface and bothers their eyes, deterring them from coming near. If woodpeckers are around, hang an aluminum pie plate on the tree where you see them most often. The reflection of the plate will scare the woodpeckers off.
3. Fishing Wire
If birds are constantly landing in or near your pool, try running fishing wire high over the pool in a criss-cross pattern. You can hang it between 2 trees, between eaves, or from any other high locations you might have near your pool. The birds don’t like the impediment to their flying space and will find somewhere else to land. As a bonus – you won’t be able to see the clear fishing wire from the ground so it doesn’t take away from the aesthetics of your backyard space.
4. Baking Soda
If pigeons and other nuisance birds are invading your patio space or window sills, try sprinkling baking soda anywhere they like to perch. Birds don’t like the feel of the baking soda under their toes and will avoid it at all costs. You can also use double-sided duct tape instead of baking soda.
5. Predator Decoys
If birds are a problem around your garden, pool, or deck, you can purchase one (or several) predator decoys at your local hardware store to scare them away. As the birds fly overhead, they will see the plastic owl, rubber snake, or whichever other decoy you choose and won’t land near it. Just make sure you move your decoys around often or the birds will get used to them and realize they aren’t real.
The more deterrents you have around your property, the less likely you are to have birds hanging around. If these methods don’t work or you already have an existing bird issue, contact a professional bird control company who can help you safely and effectively remove the nuisance birds and put measures in place to prevent them from coming back in the future.
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While most birds aren’t considered parasites, they can become quite a nuisance. Birds can be helpful in some ways: feeding on predator insects and eating the seeds of pesky weeds that can overtake your garden; but birds can also be pests by feeding on the fruits and veggies in your garden, causing damage to your home and other structures on your property, and leaving droppings that can lead to serious health risks to you and your family. Because it is illegal to kill most species of birds and remove or destroy the nests of other species, homeowners are only left with a few options when it comes to bird control: natural repellents that deter birds away from certain areas around your home and professional wildlife exclusion to safely and humanely remove or relocate nuisance birds. Here are five home remedies to keep birds away:
1. Shiny Objects
Shiny, reflective objects make great deterrents for problematic birds. The reflection of light off of these objects discourages birds from returning to these areas. These shiny objects, such as old CDs, aluminum cans, tin foil, small mirrors, or even metallic wrapping paper, can be hung near nesting or landing areas frequented by the problematic birds.
Birds have many natural predators including cats, owls, and larger birds of prey. Placing objects in the shape of these predators around areas frequented by nuisance birds can deter them from nesting or landing near them. These objects can be made of wood, metal, or any other material that can withstand the outdoor environment. Make sure to move these objects around every few days or the birds will get acclimated to them and begin to ignore them.
3. Garden Balls
Round garden balls, which are large colorful balls that can be placed in your garden or hung from trees, fence posts, and stakes are a natural bird repellent. Birds will confuse these spherical orbs with eyes and try to avoid them. They also can be great decorations for your yard or garden.
4. Bird Spikes
Bird spikes are long, needle-like rods used for bird control. These spikes can be made of tin or plastic cans and placed in the dirt or attached with wire to window sills and overhangs. They can also be made by hammering nails into wood. Birds find these spikes uncomfortable and won’t land on them, keeping them away from problematic areas around your home.
5. Repellent Sprays
There are several versions of bird repellent sprays you can make at home but the most popular is a concoction of chili peppers, water, and vinegar. To make this spray, crush dried red or green chili peppers into a mixture of water and vinegar. This mixture can either then be heated in a crock pot for a few hours to infuse or placed in a clear glass in the sunlight for a natural infusion. Once finished, place the repellent in a plant mister and spray any areas where birds are causing problems.
If you try these home remedies and you still have an issue with birds, your other option is to contact a professional pest control company who specializes in wildlife control who can come and thoroughly evaluate your home to help determine not only the species of bird you are dealing with, but also the best course of treatment that is both legal and effective.
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Nesting birds can cause much more damage than one may realize. But why would birds want to build their nests so close to humans? Nesting near, in, or on homes actually provides birds with protection from dangerous predators and helps protect them from extreme temperatures in the environment. Birds will build their nests anywhere that fits the criteria they are looking for. They prefer to nest at higher locations so they can survey the area around them for potential predators while keeping their nests relatively hidden. Bird nests can be found just about anywhere on or around your home. In fact, small birds will even nest in gaps in siding, behind shutters, or even on light fixtures.
So a bird built a nest on your home. Is that bird’s nest dangerous? They can be! Bird droppings contain acid that can corrode metal and concrete and even damage car paint. Debris from nests and bird feathers can clog drains and gutters leading to moisture issues. When nests are built in dryer, fan, or stove vents, they can cause clogs that restrict air flow, cause lint to buildup, and significantly increase the risk of fire. Nests that are built inside attics can cause damage to insulation.
Besides the physical damage to your home, bird nests can also cause health issues for humans. Birds carry pathogens that can be dangerous to the health of you and your family. Nests also contain bird droppings which can carry all sorts of bacteria and other pathogens like histoplasmosis. Nests can also contain parasites, ticks, mites, and other pests that can remain long after birds have vacated a nest.
There are also several federal, regional, and local laws and regulations that restrict or prohibit the relocation, removal, or destruction of bird nests. Without knowing for certain what species of bird has inhabited your home, disturbing the nest could be considered illegal and put you at risk for legal ramifications.
The best way to get rid of bird nests is to prevent them from being built in the first place. Here are some steps you can take at home to help prevent birds from nesting in, on, or near your home.
- Eliminate food sources. Birds often nest near homes because they provide an ample supply of food without having to travel far from their nests. Remove food scraps and trash from around your home. Make sure your trash containers are sealed tightly. Keep bird feeders and baths farther out in your yard and only fill them with enough feed for a few birds at a time. Make sure to clean up any spilled birdseed regularly.
- Keep it covered. Birds are notorious for building nests in dryer vents, fan vents, stove vents, and chimneys. Install covers or screens over any open vents. You can also install chimney caps on chimneys. Seal any gaps in siding and shutters.
- Scare them away. Consider installing perch repellents on window sills, ledges, and around the perimeter of your roof. These spikes will prevent birds from alighting on these areas. Consider placing plastic predators like coyotes, snakes, owls, and hawks) on your porch and around your yard. These will spook birds away from your home. Make sure to move them around periodically so the birds don’t get used to them being there. You can also use visual hanging repellents on your porches.
Due to the laws and regulations surrounding bird nest removal and bird protection, it is usually best to call a professional wildlife exclusion company to handle any bird nest issues you may have. These wildlife removal professionals can properly identify the species of bird nesting at your home and properly, humanely, and legally remove it or relocate it from your property.
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Most people may not consider birds when they think of pest control; bird removal does, however, fall into the category of wildlife exclusion. While typically benign to homeowners, birds can be detrimental to both homes and health. Birds can be quite noisy, especially if they build a nest in or on your home. They can cause damage to your roof, car, and property. Their nests can block stove, dryer, and fan vents causing fire hazards and rendering them useless. Their nests can also clog gutters and drains, leading to standing water and potential damage to your roof. Their droppings contain uric acid which can damage the paint on your car. Bird droppings also contain pathogens that are dangerous to humans like histoplasmosis. Bird nests can also contain other pests such as mites, parasites, and ticks that can stick around long after the birds have left the nest.
Birds have been known to build their nests in some very inconvenient places in and around homes. They are often found above doors, over garages, inside sheds, and other high-traffic areas. They can also nest in places that are dangerous to the birds themselves – on top of lawnmowers, heat pumps, etc.
While the decision to remove the bird nest may seem simple, there are Federal laws regarding bird nest removal that make it illegal to remove certain species of birds or their nests. Best practice is always to check with a wildlife control company before attempting to remove any bird nests from your home. If you have verified that the species of bird invading your property is not protected and removal of the nest is legal and necessary, here are some steps to take to ensure both proper and safe removal and/or relocation.
The best way to eliminate bird nests from your property is to prevent them from building in the first place. Remove any food scraps and open trash from around your home as this invites them to feed. Make sure trash is secured tightly in containers. Place any bird feeders and birdbaths away from the home and further out in the yard. Only put out enough food for a few birds and clean up any spills regularly. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent nesting in gutters and downspouts. Vents are a common nesting place for birds so install vent covers and screens. Use perch repellents if necessary; these are rows of bird spikes installed on ledges, window sills, and around the perimeter of the roof to prevent birds from alighting on perches. You can also use visual repellents such as plastic owls, hawks, snakes, and even coyotes. If you use visual repellents, make sure to move them often as the birds will get used to them being in one place. Hang reflective bird diverters from strings on your porch also.
The best time to remove a nest is when it is still in the building stage. If you notice a bird nest already built or remove one this season, keep an eye out in the same area next season and stop it before it is fully completed.
2. Check for Activity
Always make sure a nest is inactive before removing or relocating it. Never attempt to remove or relocate a nest if there are birds or eggs present. It is best to wait until after nesting season for any removal or relocation. Eggs in a nest without signs of the parents don’t necessarily mean the nest has been abandoned. The parents may be out feeding or they may have left to allow the eggs a chance to cool down.
3. Wait For the End of Nesting Season
The best time to remove or relocate a nest is after nesting season is over. Most birds only nest once per year; however, some species will nest 4 to 5 times. The time varies with the species of bird. Without knowing the specific species of bird, it is difficult to determine the best time to remove or relocate the nest. A professional can help identify the species you are dealing with and help determine the best time to remove the nest.
4. Use Proper Precautions
Once you have positively identified the species of bird you have, confirmed it is legal to remove the nest, and have made sure the nest is inactive and no eggs are present, you can proceed with removing or relocating the nest. Bird nests can harbor other pests and residual bird droppings that can contain dangerous pathogens for humans. Make sure to wear long sleeves, long pants, latex gloves, and a respiratory mask to protect yourself. Carefully inspect the nest to make sure it is empty of eggs and birds. Spray the nest with an antibacterial spray. Once dry, remove the nest and dispose of it in a securely sealed container or exterior trash bag. Dispose of it in the trash away from the home. Clean the area where the nest was with a strong disinfectant. Remove and dispose of your gloves. Remove your clothing and wash them immediately in hot water. Wash your hands thoroughly.
5. Call A Professional
It can be difficult to determine whether or not the bird nest in or on your home is legal to remove or the best way to remove it. If you have a bird nest that is causing problems in or on your property, contact a professional wildlife exclusion company who can positively identify the species of bird you have, properly remove or dispose of the nest, and help you identify areas where nesting could be a potential issue in the future.
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