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Bird Facts, Identification and Control

Birds

Scientific Class: Aves

Common Families:

  • Starlings (Sturnidae), including the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

  • Swallows (Hirundinidae), including the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

  • Vultures (Cathartidae), including the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

  • Pigeons (Columbidae), including the Feral Pigeon or City Pigeon (Columba livia domestica)

  • Sparrows (Passeridae), including the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

  • Crows (Corvidae), including the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Appearance

  • Size: Pest birds range in size, from the tiny 1 oz. sparrow to the heftier 5 lb. turkey vulture. 

  • Color: Since there are so many varieties of pest birds, their colors also vary, and we recommend viewing our list of birds below and searching for specific breeds further to determine more exact characteristics.

Behavior and Diet

Most birds eat seeds nectar, insects and their larvae, aquatic animals, and, in some cases, carrion. They have no teeth and use their sharp beaks to tear small chunks off larger foods in order to swallow bites. While the majority of birds scoop mouthfuls of water into their beaks, tilt their head back and swallow the water, pigeons, finches and mousebirds can actually suck water into their mouth without needing to scoop it.

Birds are known for their song, their nesting, and their general love of swooping around and pooping just about everywhere. Interesting fact: the purpose of birdsong is to attract a mate, bond with other birds, claim territories, search for lost chicks and as a warning to other birds that predators are nearby.

Reproduction

Breeding season makes birds of the same species aggressive towards each other, especially when defending nesting territories. Birds "squabbling" in mid-air can be a sign of a fight between males about territory perimeters.
Eggs laid by all birds are called amniotic eggs. Those laid in nests are typically pale in color while eggs laid in open areas are generally camouflaged from predators by adopting colors similar to their environment. Seeing a lot of these nests on your property is a surefire way to know that you have an infestation.

Signs of Bird Infestations

Bird infestations are usually fairly easy to spot since birds aren’t as small as other types of pests. You’ll usually be able to see them, hear their calls and ruffling, and notice nests being built around your property. Not all birds are considered pests, however, so let us lay out which varieties are typically considered “pest birds” and how they got that descriptor.

starling

Starlings
An urban pest known for "flocking" trees and buildings ("flocking" involves thousands of starlings invading a structure or tree at one time and refusing to leave), starlings carry lice and leave droppings everywhere that can erode paint, wood and other building materials.

swallow-bird

Swallows
Because of their destructive nesting habits, swallows are also considered urban pests. In addition to building large mud nests that deface buildings, swallows are also known to carry lice, mites and other blood-sucking parasites.

turkey-vulture

Turkey Vultures
Intimidating-looking birds with a large, reddish head and dark-feathered body, turkey vultures will attack and strip tiles, caulking and even gutters off buildings and roofs. Feeding primarily on dead carrion, they will pick open a dead animal, eat what they want and then leave the carcass to attract flies, mosquitoes and disease-carrying bacteria.

pigeons

Pigeons
Since they drop highly acidic feces that eat through building materials wherever they go, pigeons are one of an urban area's worst pests.

sparrow

Sparrows
Ubiquitous in urban areas and a year around nuisance to food and manufacturing plants, sparrows are hardy little birds that can survive harsh winters and hot, dry summers. They often clog drainage pipes and gutters by building nests in them, which can produce flood damage and sewer back-up.

crows

Crows
Not as destructive as others listed, crows are known as more of a noise nuisance and for raiding crops like corn, berries and vegetables.

Treatment and Prevention

Management of pest birds is just as difficult as eliminating an insect infestation in your home. Once birds discover the perfect building in which to roost, nest and raise their young, they won't be inclined to leave just because somebody scares them away with loud noises, chicken wire or removal of their nests. They will inevitably return and likely in greater numbers.

We recommend never attempting to remove nesting birds on your own. It is not only dangerous to you but could lead to worsening of the deteriorating happening to your building's structural integrity. Letting birds take over your building can also lead to employers, customers, patients or students developing illnesses related to a large population of birds, such as asthma attacks, allergies and even diseases transmitted by fleas, ticks and mites. Only professional bird management companies like Assured Environments possess the knowledge, experience and equipment necessary to quickly and effectively remove birds from your building - for good.

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