Bird Control: Protect Your Home
What Do Birds Look Like?
Pest bird species greatly vary in size, from the 11-inch body length and 23-inch wingspan of pigeons to the 35-inch body length and 66-inch wingspan of geese.
In between, the mid-size crow features a body length of 18 inches or more and a wingspan of 36 inches, while woodpeckers average between 6 and 20 inches long, depending on the species.
Birds also regularly vary in color. Of the common pest bird species, crows feature all-black bodies, including beaks and feet, while pigeons often come in various colors ranging from blues and greys to browns, and purples, with black and white striations.
Canada geese, or Branta canadensis, feature brown top feathers and white underbellies, with a long black neck and a stripe of white just below and behind the eyes.
Woodpeckers also come in varying colors. Red-headed woodpeckers represent the most visible type of woodpecker in North America, while Golden-fronted woodpeckers, another common North American species, possess zebra striping on the back wings, red and yellow feathering on the crown, and brownish-cream or golden breasts, hence the name.
Overall, the distinguishing traits of birds include:
- Hard, protruding mouthparts known as beaks
- Hollow bones
- Ability to fly
- Reliance on large flocks for social interaction and sustainment
However, some species lack flying capabilities despite possessing wings and other genetic traits typical of birds. Mid-Atlantic pest bird species characteristically possess two wings enabling the Avialae to fly.
The birds tend to congregate and nest territorially until predators or other potentially threatening circumstances, like food shortages, drive the animals elsewhere.
Due to ongoing urbanization and population increases, many of the pest species interact comfortably with people, which accounts for a majority of issues caused by birds.
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- Species: Considered by many to be direct descendants of dinosaurs and closely related to reptiles, birds comprise roughly 10,000 different species of flying, feathered animals.
- Problems: The ability to fly and the migratory habits of birds often result in problems with surrounding communities of human populations, as the avian animals demonstrate territorial tendencies and carry potentially fatal illnesses with regularity.
- Common birds: Common pest birds include pigeons, crows, woodpeckers, and geese, which all reside in areas throughout much of the U.S.
What Do Birds Eat?
The food sources of pest birds vary by species. Some example include:
- Canadian Geese: Canadian geese, one of the largest groups of pest birds, feed primarily on short grasses commonly found in manicured lawns.
- Woodpeckers: Woodpeckers use strong, pointed beaks to bore into both healthy and decaying trees for insects.
- Pigeons: In the wild, pigeons regularly feed on fruits, nuts, and seeds of various types; however, the feral and generally sedentary animals mostly feed on human food waste and handouts.
- Crows: Like woodpeckers, crows primarily eat insects, including grubs, worms, and caterpillars. Crows also scavenge for leftover human food waste in suburban and urban areas.
Most birds live and thrive in large congregations or flocks. The iconic “flying V” characteristic of Canada geese visually represents the social behaviors of birds, pest or otherwise.
Birds lay eggs to reproduce and build nests in places out of reach of predators. Depending on the species, female birds may lay as many as seven eggs per mating period, or “clutch,” with pigeons laying the fewest and crows and geese laying the most. Birds generally lay multiple clutches in a single year, which results in the potential for dozens of offspring per female.
Urban living greatly reduces the lifespan of pest birds, as pigeons typically live only three to four years on average in cities and suburban areas, while rural or wild pigeons may reach 14 or 15 years old. Crows similarly live for about 15 years in the wild and around 7 or 8 years in domesticated circumstances. Geese often live up to 20 years, while woodpeckers live around 5 to 10.
- Flocks: Birds flock and usually travel in groups. Alarming numbers of birds in a single area for more than a short period of time usually indicates infestation.
- Feathers: Pest birds often go through molting at early ages. Large quantities of discarded feathers often signal nearby nests.
- Feces: Canada geese and pigeons, in particular, leave behind vast amounts of fecal matter, and other species of pest birds behave in much the same way. Identification of bird waste regularly points to nesting and the likelihood of infestation.
- Damages: In the event of woodpecker infestations, the birds may leave behind holes bored into wood surfaces.
Problems Caused by Pest Birds
- Health: Birds present serious health threats to people and can cause structural damage to homes. Pigeons alone carry significant amounts of hazardous pathogens, including salmonella, encephalitis, and histoplasmosis.
- Damage: Birds also feed on and damage crops, plants, and lawns in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Additional problems caused by pest birds include the unsightly accumulation of droppings.
- Feces: Larger buildups of bird fecal matter, if laid near ponds or lakes, may over-nitrify the water and lead to overgrowth of aquatic plants, resulting the decline of marine life.
- Attacks: The larger Canada goose may attack small children or pets if provoked and even unprovoked.
- Nests: Birds may also build nests in the eaves of houses and remove pieces of siding and/or shingling to complete the habitats. Woodpeckers notoriously bore holes in sheds and other wood-sided structures.
Signs of Infestation
The most telltale signs of infestation include:
- Visible nests in undesired areas
- Large accumulations of bird droppings
- Feather debris from moltings
- Unusually prevalent presence of birds for long durations of time
- Holes in walls
- Missing siding
- Regular unwanted contact with birds
Regularly cleaning the eaves or other areas of standing structures that birds may find suitable for living, like attics or enclosed decks, often reduces the likelihood of bird infestations.
Some species, like pigeons and geese, rely on human handouts as food. Refrain from feeding birds known to depend on people for scraps to lower the chances of other birds flocking to the area for the same hospitality.
Birds usually congregate in large numbers and typically communicate newfound sources of food to one another. Though seemingly innocent, feeding one bird may lead to future problems with infestations.
Tips for Removal from Home
Defending against pest birds becomes tricky due to federal, state, and local laws governing the protection of certain species and the ethics of pest removal.
Some of the most well-known pest birds carry federal protection from hunting or mistreatment, such as the Canada goose.
Popular and acceptable methods of removing birds from unwanted areas include hunting and noisemakers. However, local ordinances regarding hunting practices and noise levels may limit options to certain times of the year, if at all.
Removing potential food sources remains the most widely practiced method of ridding pest birds from an area.
Additionally, homeowners with small ponds or similar outdoor water sources may want to let the surrounding grasses grow tall, as some bird species find overgrown areas undesirable and ultimately migrate elsewhere.
Bird removal can be challenging, often requiring a combination of home repairs and ethical measures that influence bird populations to move on from your property. While certain birds can be a beautiful addition to the backyard landscape, there can be problems with what they leave behind.
Bird Damage to Your Home
Bird damage to your home starts with the obvious: droppings. Feathers and unpleasant odors can also be an issue, as can unwanted noise – especially if birds create nests in your attic or eaves. In some cases, birds may feed on vegetation in the yard, and they have the potential to spread diseases or parasites.
Recently, Western has noticed another trend: birds roosting beneath solar panels. Placed about six inches off of the roof, solar panels can create an excellent harborage for feral pigeons or even rats. If birds decide to roost, damage to both the roof and solar panels can occur.
Targeted Bird Removal for Homeowners
Western provides expert bird removal services for these common residential issues:
- Outside: Pigeons nesting on your roof or in the eaves
- Inside: Starlings or sparrows nesting in vents, eaves, and other cavities in the home
- Roosts: Removal of large starling, crow, or vulture roosts
It is important to note that certain bird removal techniques are restricted due to animal preservation and safety laws. Your Western technician can work with you one on one to determine a safe, ethical bird removal solution.
Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.
Call for service: (877) 250-3857