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Pest birds: information and resources

Many bird species don’t pose a threat, however, pest birds can cause property damage and can spread diseases. Understanding these species and their behaviors can help quickly identify potential problems you may experience on your property.

Knowing which species of pest bird you are dealing with will also help in deciding on the perfect control method for your property. Every bird problem is unique to the species, location, and surrounding conditions, so it is important to work with a company that specializes in bird control and can properly identify the species you are dealing with. At Ehrlich, we control various bird species and adhere to all state and federal bird regulations.

Call Ehrlich today at 800-837-5520 or contact us online to find out how you can get rid of birds from your home or business.

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What are pest birds?

While there are thousands of bird species, there are only a few that are typically considered pest birds. They are not federally protected and are not native to the United States. These include pigeons, sparrows, and starlings.

Pest birds are a nuisance. They are considered an invasive species and overpopulate many types of areas. Though they are not considered an immediate threat to humans, they can carry harmful diseases.

Pest birds can also cause serious damage to properties from both their droppings and their nesting materials. They are considered bad for the environment as they can push other beneficial birds out of the area.


Pigeons are considered to be the number one pest bird in North America, as they have grown accustomed to living around humans. This pest bird takes advantage of structures and human behaviors when it comes to finding food and shelter.


Sparrows are well-known throughout North America, and they are very used to living around humans. They nest in tight spaces as well as indoors. Sparrows can become aggressive when defending their nest, especially once they’ve moved inside.


Starlings are well-established across the United States. They have been known to cause problems for both structures and livestock, resulting in a lot of damage around commercial buildings, fields, vineyards, and power structures.

What you need to know about pest birds


A bird’s life cycle includes multiple stages: eggs, nestlings, juveniles, and adults. Depending on the species, pest birds can live anywhere from 3-10 years. Starlings and sparrows have an average lifespan of about three years, whereas pigeons can live anywhere from 6-10 years.


Pest birds’ nests can cause serious damage to properties because of where they are placed. Their nests and nesting materials can clog pipes, cause electrical outages, and can even attract other insect pests to your property. Pest birds are also very protective of their nests and can become aggressive if a human goes near one.


Pest birds will feed on anything from human food to trash. Pigeons enjoy any type of human food, but prefer grains like sparrows. In addition to grains, sparrows will eat fruits, vegetables, and flowers, but they will also dig through trash. Starlings enjoy trash and spilled foods as sparrows do, but they will also feed on fruit, seeds, and grubs.

Diseases carried by birds

Birds are known to carry a range of diseases and are hosts to other insect pests. Humans can also develop symptoms similar to influenza from the spores from bird droppings. Some diseases associated with pest birds are:

  • Salmonella - This bacterium is deposited where pigeons or gulls defecate. It can lead to Salmonellosis and Paratyphoid fever.
  • Psittacosis - Also called Ornithosis or pigeon fancier's lung, this infection can be transmitted by inhaling the bacteria from dried droppings or handling feathers of infected pigeons or seagulls.
  • Fowl pest - Known also as fowl plague or Newcastle disease, this virus can be transmitted to people when they’re exposed to fecal matter and other excretions from infected pigeon birds.
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) - This disease is mainly spread by seagulls and can lead to illnesses such as gastroenteritis and septicemia.
  • Fungal infections - Includes Histoplasmosis and Cryptococcosis. These infections are carried within bird droppings from seagulls.
What you need to know about pest birds

Frequently asked questions

What are the most common types of birds?

The most common types of birds can really depend on where you live. On the east coast, some of the most common types of birds are mourning doves, cardinals, robins, crows, sparrows, geese, starlings, and woodpeckers.

How do you get rid of birds in your yard?

The best way to get rid of birds in your yard is to make your yard less appealing to them. Deterrent products, such as Avian Block™, Bird-Out™, and bird spikes, are used to reroute the birds and force them to land or nest elsewhere.

How do you get rid of birds around your business?

The best way to get rid of birds around your business is to use a product that deters the bird from landing and encourages it to nest somewhere else. If you own a restaurant and are experiencing problems with birds, bus outdoor tables quickly and keep the trash area clean and as far away from the building as possible.

What is bird netting?

Bird netting works to keep birds out of an area by using a net, screen, or other physical seal over that area. The nets or screens prevent a large group of birds from making a home in an unwanted area around your home or business.

What are the signs of an infestation?

Some of the most common signs of a bird infestation are:

  • Birds roosting on top of your property
  • Multiple bird nests or nesting materials around your property
  • Bird noises
  • A lot of bird droppings
  • Parasites
  • Damage from the birds pecking or fouling

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