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Pest Birds: Pigeons, Starlings, and Sparrows


Most birds are beneficial creatures who serve an important role in the ecosystem and bring much joy to humans, and they are appropriately protected by law from being intentionally killed or harassed.

In other words, when we speak of pest bird control, we're not talking about knocking off Little Robin Redbreast.

But there are three species of birds in the United States that are considered pests and that may be controlled, even by killing them. These three species are the pigeon, the house sparrow, and the starling. Because of their significance as pests,in most United States municipalities, they can be controlled with no justification other than that the property owner doesn't like them.

A fourth specie, the Canada Goose, is protected by U.S. law, but may legally be chased away from areas where they are causing problems using methods that do not harm the geese. More about harm-free methods to control geese and other birds can be found on the next page.

Pest Birds and Health

Aside from their being a nuisance and defacing buildings and monuments, pest birds also present serious health risks. They are capable of vectoring several serious diseases including histoplasmosis, salmonella, ornithosis, pseudotuberculosis, and several other diseases. In addition, birds often carry parasites (especially fleas and mites) that may vector other diseases, and are involved in the transmission of West Nile Virus.

Pest Bird Species


PigeonsPigeons are the birds that pest control professionals are most frequently called upon to control. Originally introduced from Europe as pets, pigeons rapidly proliferated and became pests. Many people refer to them as "flying rats."

Because of their large broods and filthy habits, pigeons contaminate public areas with their dropping, deface monuments, and cause serious hazards to air travel.

Some people aggravate the pigeon problem by feeding pigeons, a practice which should be vigorously discouraged.


StarlingStarlings are predominantly black, speckled birds that nest in protected areas such as hollow trees, roof soffits, electrical boxes, and structural voids of buildings. From a distance, the birds appear quite dull; but when looked at more closely, the speckling becomes more apparent. During their breeding season, adult starlings' beaks turn bright yellow.

Young starlings often associate into huge flocks whose droppings deface and damage structures and monuments. They are "bully" birds who often evict other birds from their nests and move in themselves. This behavior is believed to have contributed to the the decline of several native North American bird species.

Starlings are not native to North America. They were brought here in 1890 by a bunch of morons who were obsessed with introducing all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays to the United States.


SparrowSparrows are small birds who build elaborate nests, often in rain gutters, electrical boxes, roof soffits, roll-up door housings, and other nooks and crannies of man-made structures.

Sparrows can become a major nuisance when they clog rain gutters and downspouts, and their nests frequently cause electrical shorts and fires when they nest in electrical equipment.

Like starlings, sparrows also were deliberately imported to the United States. They are not native to North America, and some believe that their aggressive nesting habits have contributed to the decline of native bird species.

Next: Pest Bird Control