The Wyoming-Colorado region is home to over 400 species of birds. The vast majority of these species do not have any harmful interaction with humans, but a few types of birds may become a nuisance. Read on to learn about some of the region’s common nuisance birds and what can be done about them.
Effective Bird Removal
Nuisance birds can be difficult to handle because of federal laws that sharply limit what sorts of removal methods are allowable, and because birds have the annoying habit of nesting in very hard-to-reach locations. Why remove nuisance birds? Droppings – often filled with spores and bacteria -pose a serious risk to human health; and noises from birds nesting in or near a home can be a source of constant irritation to homeowners. There are many things to consider when working with birds; Creature Control’s technicians have the knowledge and experience to remove and exclude unwanted birds from your home or business. Call us today at 1-844-774-3284!
Birds are Protected Species
When removing birds one must take in to account federal laws. All birds are protected by state and/or federal law except pigeons, house sparrows, and European starlings. This means that you cannot shoot at, trap, poison, or otherwise kill, capture or possess one without a permit. It is against the law to kill any other species of bird without a special permit. It is even illegal to cause the death of a protected bird indirectly. It is also against the law to tamper with the nests of birds if there are eggs in them.
However, that does not mean there are no options for dealing with protected birds; they cannot be killed or trapped, but they can be harassed. There are various options available to deter nuisance birds from frequenting your property. As you can see, bird removal can be very complicated.
Types of Damage
Damage from a bird problem can vary depending upon the type of bird you are dealing with. Woodpeckers, a common nuisance bird in Colorado, cause damage to wood siding by their incessant pecking; starlings will destroy fruit trees. Any bird can cause damage by their droppings; droppings can contaminate and ruin building materials. Accumulated bird droppings in parking lots, loading docks, etc. means wasted time and money for companies and municipalities who are on the hook for the clean up.
Effects on Business & Agriculture
Businesses spend more money on rodent control than any other pest, but bird control is a close second. For example, the airline industry alone spends $1.2 billion every year on bird control and removal. A famous 1973 study by the University of Nebraska estimated that birds annually destroy 17% of many states’ cherry harvests. Blackbirds destroy $38 million worth of sunflowers annually and aquatic, fish-eating birds cause millions of dollars of damage to state fisheries. If we take into account wasted labor and money spent by businesses and homeowners on bird dropping removal, the impact of birds on the economy is incalculable.
Common Colorado-Wyoming Bird Pests by Species
Most of our calls for bird problems deal with six species: starlings, sparrows, pigeons, woodpeckers, chimney swifts and swallows.
The starling is not native to the United States but was introduced from Europe in 1890. They have a black, speckled color and a very short tail. Starlings are typically city birds, preferring man-made structures that provide them ample roosting sites. They are mainly insectivores, but will also eat small fruits, like grapes and cherries, as well as apples. They are the biggest avian nuisance in North America; starlings disrupt native bird habitats, destroy fruit harvests, interfere with air travel and more. They frequently nest in attics or gaps in siding along eaves.
Fact: Starlings were brought to the United States in 1890 by the American Acclimatization Society, an organization which tried to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare into North America.
Like the starling, the sparrow is another species introduced from Europe, brought over in colonial times. Males can be recognized by their black bib (the area beneath the beak) and white cheeks; females are a little more difficult to identify, but both the male and female have a “chunky” appearance. Sparrows are not picky eaters: crops, seeds, fruits, insects, and food dropped by humans are all food sources. They can do a tremendous amount of damage in agricultural areas. In residential areas, the most common complaint is sparrows nesting in or near homes, often inside attics. Once nested, they befoul the attic with their feathers and droppings.
Fact: The sparrow was so destructive to Chinese harvests that from 1958 to 1962 the government of China sponsored the “Four Pest Campaign,” a massive mobilization of all the Chinese peasantry to eliminate sparrows from China by smashing nests and banging pots and pans to frighten sparrows out of fields.
Pigeons are easy to recognize by their gray-blue feathers and their familiar “cooing” sound. Pigeons are the number one bird nuisance in heavily urbanized areas. They pose a particular sanitary risk because of the high acid content in their droppings, which is very corrosive and can cause extensive damage to metals and anything it sits on. Accumulated pigeon debris can back up gutters and drains which can cause flooding and roof damage. Nesting materials often clog rooftop A/C units, which are common nesting sites for pigeons.
The bacteria, fungi and mites found in pigeon droppings can carry a host of serious diseases, including histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, toxoplasmosis and more. When it comes to pigeons, it is best to act sooner rather than later. Many businesses have incurred large clean up expenses because of a pigeon problem they didn’t resolve until it got out of control. This is especially true of businesses in suburban areas with lots of strip malls, since these afford pigeons a stable habitat and constant food source in the debris left behind in large parking lots.
Fact: In the 17th century, King George I of England, decreed all pigeon droppings to be property of the Crown (Pigeon manure was used in making gunpowder).
Woodpeckers are unique among birds because of their habit of drilling into trees with their beaks in order to find food, nest, communicate with each other (called “drumming”), mark territory and attract potential mates. Woodpeckers are easily identified by their stout, sharp beaks, very short legs and their backward-pointed toes which allow them to cling to surfaces while pecking. Colorado (and to a lesser extent, Wyoming) are home to several types of woodpeckers; the northern flicker is the most common, but the red-headed woodpecker, red-naped sapsucker, Lewis’ woodpecker, Williamson’s sapsucker, hairy woodpecker and downy woodpecker are also found in the region, more so in Colorado.
Fact: A woodpecker’s tongue is up to 4 inches long depending on the species, and it wraps around the skull. Many woodpeckers have barbed tongues that help them extract bugs from trees and holes.
As the name may suggest, chimney swifts tend to get into chimneys; this is due to the chimney swift’s unique ability to fly straight up and down, something few birds are capable of doing. The chimney swift has a long, cylindrical body with slender, curved wings. Their plumage is a sooty gray-brown color and their tails are short. Originally the chimney swift nested in hollow trees, but now they primarily nest in man-made structures, especially chimneys. Their nests are made of clumps of twigs held together with saliva. While chimney swifts are beneficial in that they eat a tremendous amount of insects, they clog chimneys and irritate homeowners by their extremely loud chirping.
Fact: Chimney swifts are migratory and will fly as far south as Peru for the winter.
Though there are many types of swallows common to the United States, most are easily identifiable by their forked tail and diamond-shaped body; most have brown plumage. The swallow’s unique body shape allows them to feed “on the wing,” meaning that they feed in flight. Swallows live in colonies and tend to nest in or around human habitation, especially barns and garages. Swallows look for four things in a nesting site: (1) an open habitat for foraging, (2) a suitable surface for nest attachment beneath an overhang or ledge, (3) a supply of mud of the proper consistency for nest building, and (4) a body of fresh water for drinking.
Fact: Besides feeding, swallows are also capable mating and feed their young in the air.
Ducks, geese and swans can be nuisance birds, especially to homeowners with lakefront property who find their yards and beaches littered with bird droppings day after day. Geese can be especially irksome if they choose to nest on your property, hissing at anyone who draws too close to the nest. Creature Control has a variety of options available for dealing with these pests. Dealing with water fowl is somewhat complicated and requires a customized solution. If you are having a problem with unwanted geese or other water fowl, call us today for a consultation or to set up an inspection.
Fact: The name “goose” comes from the Old English gos, which means “simpleton”, reflecting the traditional belief that geese were uncommonly stupid animals.
Bird control solutions
Birds are extremely difficult to remove. There are the federal and state laws protecting birds, the dangerous nature of bird droppings that requires a lot of protective gear and special equipment to handle, laws prohibiting tampering with bird nests, not to mention the great variety of birds one may encounter. Creature Control has a host of tools at our disposal for dealing with your unwanted birds. Sometimes it is necessary to erect a bird barrier, which may be an exclusionary netting, covering of an opening or “bird spikes” designed to keep birds from loafing on structures. Sometimes an auditory/sonic deterrent is more effective as a bird repellent; this consists of a device that emits sound waves mimicking bird distress calls, leading birds to consider the area unsafe. Visual deterrents, habitat modifications, shock strips, fogging and motion sensers are also available. Our experienced technicians will evaluate your problem and select a customize a treatment based on your specific case.