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Bird Facts, Identification, and Control in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

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.

Control

Signs of Infestation

Bird infestations are usually fairly easy to spot. You’ll usually be able to see them, hear their calls and ruffling, and often notice their nests 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

We don't recommend attempting to remove bird nests on your own. Not only is it dangerous, but it could also further compromise the structural integrity of your building. You can take steps to prevent birds from nesting on your property, but once they have, we recommend calling in the pros.

Birds tend to build their nests in natural crevices and sheltered areas around roofs, awnings, and vent systems. If you can deprive them of sheltered areas to build, they won't want to make their nests near you. You should also look for and clean up any bird food and water sources, such as fallen seed or puddles.
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Identification

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. New York's birds tend to be adaptable scavengers. They'll eat more or less whatever they can find.

Birds spend most of their time foraging for food they can either eat right away or carry back to their nests. Birds tend not to range far from their nests, preferring to scavenge whatever they can from nearby. Many of NY's birds are (obviously) social and congregate in flocks to mate and seek food. 

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Birds mate sexually, often after prolonged courtship rituals. The female bird may lay her fertilized eggs a few days after mating, or she may wait several months. After laying the eggs in a nest, the mother will protect and incubate them with her body. Bird eggs take around 10 days to 3 weeks to hatch.

Birds undergo several stages of development before adulthood. Hatchlings are newly-hatched baby birds. Nestlings are baby birds that can't leave the nest and rely on their parents for food. Fledglings are young birds that have started growing feathers and learning to fly. Once birds can fly, they leave the nest and seek mates.

Other Characteristics

  • Bird's songs can serve many different purposes. They can attract mates, bond with other birds, claim territories, search for lost chicks, and warn other birds that predators are nearby.
  • Birds often follow relatively elaborate courtship rituals to mate with one another. These courtship rituals can often involve territorial disputes and fighting, or "squabbling" in midair. Birds may be more aggressive or territorial during spring mating season.
  • Birds are a vector for disease. Their feathers, droppings, and nests can all contain potentially dangerous pathogens. Birds are confirmed to carry and transmit human-communicable diseases, including Cryptococcosis, Histoplasmosis, and Psittacosis.

More Information

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