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Birds probably aren’t what you would consider “traditional” pests, but if you’ve ever had a colony living on your property, you know how disruptive they can be. Any animal can be a pest if their presence in a certain place causes problems. Birds are pests when they endanger people’s health, cause property damage, and impede normal building functions. Virtually any bird can become a pest under certain circumstances, but some species tend to annoy us more than others. Here are the four most common trouble-making birds in our Midwestern service area, how to spot them, and what kind of damage they can cause.

house sparrow House Sparrows

This 14 to 18 centimeters long, brown or grey-brown, full-chested bird is equally ubiquitous to the cities, suburbs, and rural parts of the US. Thanks to a series of Ill-advised introductions to the US in the 1800s, the house sparrow has learned to live near people quite comfortably. These sparrows are the most widely distributed wild bird in the world, and one of the most common. Like most invasive pests, they often become a problem because their environment is not adapted to them. House sparrows feed on whatever they can get their beaks on, whether that’s bugs, grains, seeds, or most other small organic material. Their feeding habits and aggression make them a potential problem for plants, other birds, and even pets. Sparrows disturb or threaten other birds and animals near your home and make loud mating noises in the early morning. Worse, they can also carry and transmit several dangerous parasites and diseases, including salmonella and escherichia coli.

pigeons Pigeons

Different species of pigeon vary in size, weight, and length. They're usually between 14 to 37 centimeters long, but they could be longer. The common rock pigeon is a plump, round bird with a small head, short legs, and a broad tail. Most pigeons are pale grey, blue-grey, or brown-grey, with black bands on their wings and a black tip on their tails. Many pigeons have iridescent, shiny blue-green crest feathers. Pigeons become a problem when they nest near humans. Since they prefer to build in hollows or crevices, their nests often choke pipes, vents, or other utility lines. Pigeon waste is unsanitary and can stain or damage property. As social birds, pigeons frequently gather in large flocks, which can make infestations more disruptive and difficult to control. Like sparrows, pigeons tend to be opportunist eaters, feeding on scavenged garbage, insects, seeds, grains, and other easily obtainable materials. Some pigeons may fear humans less than most birds.

Starling Starlings

We can all “thank” Shakespeare fans for bringing the Starling along with them to America (ugh, English majors). Now, there are over 200 million all over the US. Lord, what fools these mortals be! The starling is a chunky, scrappy bird averaging 8 to 9 inches long. Their stubby tails, long beaks, and short wings make them look like stars, hence the name. Starling feathers usually appear black from a distance, but when they catch the light they shine in iridescent oranges, purples, and greens. Starlings are highly social birds, traveling in large flocks and “talking” to one another with high-pitched chirps or by mimicking another species. Fights within flocks are common, loud, and often upsetting. These avian agitators prefer to build nests in the nooks and crannies of standing structures. Huge nesting flocks can cause some serious structural and logistical problems in a home or business.

Seagull Gulls

Unfortunately for us, ‘seagulls’ defy their informal name and breed all over the US--even in the northern part of the Midwest! Gulls vary in size and weight, depending on species. They’re usually white or grey, with black markings on the tips of their wings and heads. They're usually easy to tell apart from other birds because of distinctive characteristics like their combination of white and grey plumage, grey wings, bright yellow or orange beaks and bright pink legs. Gulls are aggressive, opportunistic scavengers, known for stealing from other species or each other. Some gulls that grow accustomed to people may even become aggressive in their harassment of people with food. They tend to flock around restaurants, landfills, dumpsters, and other places where they can easily grab a bite. Unlike other birds on this list, gulls are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but they are not considered endangered.   While it’s true that these birds can be pests, that doesn’t mean they’re gross or “undesirable”. Like everything in nature, birds have an important role to play. Proper bird control is about re-directing birds away from the wrong place, so they stop bothering you and keep doing what they should be. Plunkett’s Bird Management & Deterrent Solutions service offers custom-designed bird management programs for any home or business bothered by pest birds. Give us a call today. We have the experience, expertise, and equipment to handle bird problems safely and effectively.

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