Common Bird Species

Many of the bird species in the U.S. are good to have around, thanks to their attractive plumage and birdsongs. However, some birds can become a serious nuisance in the wrong locations, especially pigeons and starlings.

Learn more below about common types of pest birds found across the country.

Pigeons

(Columba livia)

Also known as city doves or street pigeons, they are descended from wild rock doves. They thrive in an urban environment and only require the smallest amount of shelter on buildings.

Appearance

  • 12 1/2" long.
  • Blue—grey in color (although other colors are common).

Lifecycle

  • 2 – 3 broods per year, with 2 eggs in each clutch.
  • 17 – 19 day incubation period.
  • Young birds spend 35 – 37 days in the nest.

Habits

  • Feeds on seeds, green feed, domestic scraps in and around cities, near roosting sites.
  • Nests on ledges.

Seagulls

(Family – Laridae)

Seagulls are often found in coastal towns and cities. Only a small number are recognized as being pest birds, such as Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), the Lesser black–backed gull (Larus fuscus) and the Herring gull (Larus argentatus).

Appearance

  • Silver Gulls have a white head, tail and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings.
  • In adult birds the bill, legs and eye-rings are bright orange-red.
  • Identification of gulls can be difficult due to seasonal variations in their plumage.

Lifecycle

  • 1 brood per year, with 3 eggs in each clutch.
  • 25 day incubation period.
  • Young birds spend 35 – 42 days in the nest.

Habits

  • Feed away from their roosting sites; omnivorous.
  • Nests on cliffs and buildings.

House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus)

The House sparrow is a significant pest to the food industry because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods.

Appearance

  • Less than 6" long.
  • Males can be identified by the grey crown on their heads, and black throat ‘bib’.
  • Females and young are mostly plain brown.

Lifecycle

  • Sparrows live for four to seven years, with up to five breeding seasons.
  • The breeding season runs through Spring and Summer, and up to three broods of 4–6 eggs may be laid in this time.

Habits

  • The same nest will tend to be used every year, resulting in a build up of nest debris, and insects associated with their nests.
  • It is a pest to the food industry in particular because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods.

Starlings

(Sturnus vulgaris)

Appearance

  • They are 7 1/2"–9" long, and can be recognized by their pointed wings and short tail when flying. At first sight they appear to be plain black, but the feathers catch the light and may appear iridescent green or purple.

Lifecycle

  • Starlings can rear up to two broods a year, in April and May. Each clutch usually consists of 4–6 eggs, the young staying in the nest for about 3 weeks. 
  • Breeding can extend into June and July if conditions are favorable.

Habits

  • The concentration of droppings from a large roosting flock provides a good medium for pathogenic fungi, some of which can be harmful or even fatal to humans. 
  • It is an agricultural pest of standing crops, but will also flock into cities in large numbers.

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