by Barb Ogg, Ph.D., Extension Educator and Soni
Cochran, Extension Associate
In the afternoon, hundreds of noisy black birds (starlings)
come into my yard and sit in the tree and roost overnight. How
do I keep them away?
Starlings are extremely social and have the unpleasant habit
of gathering and roosting in large numbers. In fall, starlings
often move into urban settings and roost overnight in trees,
on ledges, near lighted signs and other places that provide
shelter and warmth. Beneath the roost, droppings can accumulate.
the day, these birds fly to areas where grain is readily available
like elevators, feed yards and crop fields. They return to roost
in urban areas in the late afternoon.
starlings in their urban roosts is most effective when done
on a neighborhood or community basis. The winter roost is the
most difficult problem because these birds may return to the
same site from November through March.
the tree down is a permanent solution, but the starlings may
find another roost site nearby. The next-best solution is to
prune the branches and open the canopy of the trees. This may
make the trees less suitable for roosting. Removal of small
branches will reduce the number of good perching sites and make
them fly off to find a more dense roost. Starlings can be repelled
by pyrotechnics (exploding shells and recorded starling distress
calls), but this harassment must be continued until they leave.
In urban areas, this harassment can be more stressful to human
residents than to the birds and there may be local ordinances
against this approach. Another deterrent is to apply a sticky
substance, (Roost-No-More®) to the perches which
makes the roost unsuitable; however, application is time consuming,
expensive and may need to be reapplied next year.
roosts are difficult to manage. There is a stressing
agent that can be used for control, but this must be done by
a wildlife control professional. Check the Yellow Pages under
Pest Control Services for a company that has experience in wildlife
Pigeons have been roosting and nesting on a ledge by our window
and making a mess. What can we do?
Pigeons are highly dependent on people to provide them with
food, water, and roost and nest sites. The best ways to solve
this problem is to either exclude pigeons from the roost or
make the roost undesirable. Other methods, like scaring and
using repellents, are less successful.
and nesting on ledges can be discouraged by changing the angle
of the ledge to 45 or more. Sheet metal, wood, plexiglas or
other materials can be fastened to ledges to accomplish the
wires (see figure 1) are nickel stainless steel prongs
with sharp points extending upward. The base of these prongs
can be installed on window sills and ledges.
are some sticky adhesive materials that can be applied to ledges
and sills that pigeons dislike which forces them to roost somewhere
else. However, the sticky material will collect dirt and eventually
lose its stickiness. It will be only a temporary solution.
Can you pick up lice from birds?
Nearly all bird species have parasites that live on them. These
can include lice, mites, bird bugs (similar to bed bugs), fleas
and ticks most of which are blood feeders. Each species of bird
has its own complement of parasites that are often quite specific
to that type of bird.
birds that nest on house ledges or under eaves can abandon their
parasites along with their nest. Parasites rapidly leave a dead
bird and will seek other warm-blooded animalsincluding humans.
These unwanted critters may seek shelter in cracks and crevices
of the house near the roosting/nesting areas. They may also
enter houses through tiny cracks near these areas.
first step in eliminating bird parasites is to remove the roosting/nesting
birds, nests and any dead birds from the area. You can prevent
a recurrence of this situation by making the roost/nest site
unsuitable (refer to the previous question). After removing
nests and dead birds, you may want to spray the immediate area
(outside only) with a residual insecticide like Dursban®
(chlorpyrifos)to limit the movement of parasites. Be sure to
read and follow all directions when using any pesticide.
I love to feed birds, but I want to discourage grackles, starlings
and sparrows that are so greedy and eat so much of the seed.
What can I do?
Try a feeder that is specifically designed for small birds (like
finches) and fill it with thistle seed. Larger birds will not
be able to use some of these feeders because their beaks are
too large. With open feeders, try using smaller seeds to encourage
only the smaller birds. English sparrows also feed on small
seed; you may not be able to discourage English sparrows from
your bird feeder if you want to feed finches.
The geese we fed for awhile were fun to watch, but now they
are coming into our yard and making a mess. What can we do to
Geese prefer grassy areas near water. If you live near a lake
or pond, you may have a habitat ideally suited to them. If you
have not already done so, stop feeding the geese! Feeding them
only encourages them.
can discourage geese from using a pond by mowing to the edge
of the pond and using herbicides to eliminate emergent aquatic
vegetation. Eliminate fertilizer applications to surrounding
grass area to make the grass less nutritious. In cold climates,
shut off pond aerators in the winter and allow the pond to freeze.
geese will not establish nesting territories if there is a steep
pond embankment. Discourage nesting by vertically straightening
the bank or by erecting 30-36" chicken wire fence around the
pond at the water's edge. Chicken wire fencing will also protect
gardens from waterfowl.
actions may be difficult because Canada geese are migratory
game birds that are protected by federal regulations. People
wishing to take any migratory birds outside of the legal hunting
season, must secure a federal permit from the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service. Federal regulations also include the protection
of nests and goslings; so, it is illegal to destroy nests containing
eggs or chicks.
Can I shoot birds with a shotgun, pellet gun or air rifle in
There are regulations that prohibit the discharge of firearms
in the city limits. This would include the firing of a shotgun.
Persons should call the police department to ask about current
regulations regarding pellet guns or air rifles. updated
June 12, 2001
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