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Common bird species

Many of the bird species in the United States are good to have around. However, some birds, like pigeons and starlings, can become a serious nuisance in the wrong locations. All birds are federally protected in the United States except for pigeons, starlings, and sparrows.

Learn more below about common types of pest birds found across the country and our control methods for each type:

Get started with your bird control today!

Canadian geese

(Branta canadensis)
Protection Status: Federally protected

3 Canadian geese in a parking lot.

Appearance

  • Length: 2.5’ - 3.6’
  • Color: Black and white head and neck with a light tan body

Habits

  • Nests are built on the ground, sometimes under shrubs or bushes, but situated where the female can have a clear view of her surroundings
  • Mate for life, pairing up around the age of three
  • One brood per year, two to eight eggs per brood
  • Both males and females can be aggressive
  • Migrate slowly in large V-shaped formations
  • Attracted to bodies of water and large, open spaces
  • Problem hot spots: Agricultural fields, lawns, parking lots, golf courses, retention ponds

Canadian geese control methods

  • Fogging / misting / olfactory repellents
  • Applied repellents
  • Grid systems
  • Laser harassment
  • Canine harassment

Crows and ravens

(Corvus and corvus corax)
Protection Status: Federally protected

A crow sitting on a tree stump.

Appearance

Crows

  • Length: 15.8” - 20.9”
  • Color: Black with an iridescent shine

Ravens

  • Length: 22” - 27.2”
  • Color: Black

Habits

  • Crows and ravens typically have one brood per season, with an average of three to five eggs
  • Feed on anything from insects to trash
  • Gain attention with their distinctive, loud ‘caw’
  • Can destroy crops, create excessive noise, leave behind an incredible amount of droppings, and frighten people
  • Sometimes feeds on other species’ young and eggs
  • Problem hot spots: agricultural fields, orchards, athletic fields, parks, trash cans and dumpsters, waste management facilities, healthcare facilities, signage

Crow and raven control methods

  • Exclusion / netting
  • UV repellents
  • Fogging / misting / olfactory repellents
  • Tactile / sensory perch modification

European house sparrow

(Passer domesticus)
Protection status:
Not federally protected

A Europen Hosue Sparrow sitting on a rock

Appearance

  • Length: Less than 6"
  • Color: Females and young birds are pale brown and grey; males have grey, black, white, and brown markings

Habits

  • Build nests year-round in tight spaces on structures
  • Can be aggressive when defending their nest
  • Typically have two to three broods per year; usually three to six eggs, but can be as many as eight
  • Pest to the food industry in particular because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods
  • Problem hot spots: interiors (they’re difficult to move once they have moved inside) and any small, tight protected openings such as those in corrugated steel, dryer vents, building signs and lighting

Sparrow control methods

  • Exclusion / netting
  • Interior removal / single bird traps / mist netting
  • Fogging / misting / olfactory repellents
  • Tactile / sensory perch modification
Get started with your bird control today!

Grackles

(Quiscalus quiscula)
Protection status: Federally protected

A grackle looking up.

Appearance

  • Length: 11” - 13.4”
  • Color: Appear black from a distance, but up close their glossy purple heads contrast with their bronze-iridescent body

Habits

  • Build nests in shrubs or trees
  • One brood annually, with four to five eggs per brood
  • Eat insects, seeds, crops, garbage, or any food scraps from humans
  • Destructive to corn crops
  • Gather in large flocks, creating extreme amounts of droppings and noise, which can be disruptive for businesses
  • Problem hot spots: Agricultural fields, lawns, outdoor dining areas, utility, power, communications and industrial facilities, waste management facilities, lumber yards, healthcare facilities, resorts

Grackle control methods

  • Exclusion / netting
  • Laser harassment

European starlings

(Sturnus vulgaris)
Protection status: Not federally protected

A European starling sitting in a grass field

Appearance

  • Length: 7 1/2"–9"
  • Color: At first sight they appear to be plain black, but in the light, they may appear iridescent green or purple

Habits

  • Nest in natural hollows (trees, woodpecker holes), but can sometimes nest on structures
  • Typically two broods annually, four to six eggs per brood
  • Females sometimes lay eggs in another starling’s nest
  • An agricultural pest of standing crops, but will also flock into cities in large numbers
  • Recognized for their elaborate acrobatics in large flocks in the sky known as murmurations
  • Not particularly afraid of humans, so common in residential and urban areas
  • Problem hot spots: agricultural areas, especially fields and vineyards, electrical and power structures, commercial buildings in cities.

Starling control methods

  • Exclusion / netting
  • Interior removal / single bird traps / mist netting
  • UV repellents
  • Fogging / misting / olfactory repellents

Rock pigeons

(Columba livia)
Protection Status: Not federally protected

A Rock Pigeon standing near a retention pond.

Appearance

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

Habits

  • Feed on seeds, green feed, and domestic scraps in and around cities, near roosting sites
  • Nest all year long - they do not migrate in the winter to warmer climates but are able to adjust their diet to food scraps or anything they can find
  • Typically have three to four broods annually, with two to three eggs per brood
  • Thrive in an urban environment and only require the smallest amount of shelter on buildings
  • Problem hot spots: ledges, pipes, beams, rooftops, HVAC units behind signs, under bridges, barns, grain silos

Pigeon control methods

  • Exclusion / netting
  • Trapping
  • UV repellents
  • Tactile / sensory perch modification

Signs of a pigeon problem

Bird control specialists at Ehrlich provide expert pigeon control solutions to protect your business and customers from these pest birds. Look out for the following pigeon infestation signs on your property, which may indicate a problem that requires professional help.

  • Flocks of pigeons – if you regularly notice flocks of pigeons around your property
  • Nesting materials – twigs, grass, and sticks are usually used to make a nest
  • Pigeon droppings – large amounts of droppings found near your building could mean pigeons are roosting on your property

Risks to your business

  • Health & safety hazard - droppings can sometimes make sidewalks very slippery
  • Loss of customers - large quantities of droppings and the presence of pigeons on your property could put customers off from entering your facility
  • Loss of productivity - the diseases pigeons are known to carry could impact on your co-workers leading to illness and time off work
  • Drainage problems - nest debris and feathers can also block gutters and rainwater drainage systems, potentially leading to damage to your business from water penetration
Get started with your bird control today!

Seagulls

(Larus)
Protection status: Federally protected

Multiple seagulls sitting along a rocky coast.

Appearance

  • Length: 2’ - 2.2’
  • Color: White head, tail, and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings

Habits

  • Nests on cliffs and buildings
  • Produce one clutch per year, typically with three eggs each, although some species can only produce one egg
  • Feed away from their roosting sites; omnivorous
  • Can be aggressive scavengers
  • Often found in coastal towns and cities (only a small number are recognized as being pest birds: the silver gull [Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae], the lesser-known black-backed gull [Larus fuscus] and the herring gull [Larus argentatus])
  • Problem hot spots: near dumpsters, outdoor dining areas, parking lots, rooftops, beaches, agriculture areas, athletic fields, airports

Seagull control methods

  • Exclusion / netting
  • Grid systems
  • Visual and audio deterrents
  • UV repellents
  • Laser harassment
  • Prey birds (extremely sensitive environments only)

Vultures (buzzards)

(Cathartes aura)
Protection status: Federally protected

A vulture sitting on a tree trunk.

Appearance

Length: 25.2” - 31.9”
Color: Dark brown with a featherless, red head

Habits

  • Perch high up on power and communication structures and rooftops to spot food
  • One brood annually, usually one to three eggs
  • Carrion feeders that search for food from high above
  • Have a powerful chewing sense and will destroy rubber rooftop membranes, cables, wires, and equipment
  • Problem hot spots: Agricultural fields, orchards, athletic fields, parks, trash cans and dumpsters, waste management facilities, healthcare facilities, signage

Vulture control methods

  • Grid systems
  • Laser harassment (in select situations)

Woodpeckers

(Picidae)
Protection status: Federally protected

A woodpecker standing on the side of a tree.

Appearance

Length & Color: Come in many sizes and colors, but they share one common feature – a strong beak

Habits

  • Nest in tree hollows
  • One to two broods per year, with four to six eggs per brood depending on the species
  • Hammer on wood with their beak to attract a mate or drill into a surface to ferret out insects and insect larvae for food
  • Cause damage to structures, stucco, and landscaped trees
  • Problem hot spots: residential homes, hospitals, landscaped trees, any business with stucco siding

Woodpecker control

  • Visual and audio deterrents
  • Fogging / misting / olfactory repellents

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