Common Pest Birds You May Encounter in Arizona
Arizona native birds such as cactus wrens, finches, and cardinals are beautiful, amazing creatures that we should all enjoy seeing when we are out at a park or watching from your window. These are not pest birds.
Non-native birds, on the other hand, such as pigeons, sparrows, and starlings were introduced into the United States a long time ago and since that time have become a real problem in Arizona. These are pest birds, a fact you may now be learning if they are nesting or roosting on your home or business.
Did you know that pigeons poop 47 – 51 times a day? Pest bird and pigeon feces have been found to contain over 60 different diseases and 40 different parasites that could be passed to you, your loved ones, pets, clients, or employees. Pest birds on ledges and signs or droppings covering a sidewalk will send a message to visitors that the business is careless or does not care about its image or its visitors’ health.
Droppings can damage products and packaging, and contaminate production lines as well. Bird droppings found in food processing plants, restaurants, storage facilities, or other areas, violate local health codes. Pigeon and pest bird droppings can be very slippery; if a customer or employee falls they could get seriously injured and potentially sue the company.
Bird droppings are acidic and can corrode through paint, roofing materials, and fabrics and collections of droppings and nesting materials can clog drains and gutters causing water to back up further damaging your roof. The life of your roof can be reduced by 20% or more by bird droppings. Constantly cleaning up or washing off the pigeon and pest bird droppings can be time consuming and the ongoing labor cost is expensive.
Not so cute now, are they?
Feral Pigeons (Columbia Livia) are the number one urban pest bird, causing damage where ever they nest or roost. Pigeons are descendants of domesticated European Homing Pigeons or Rock Doves, so they have a varied diet and feel at ease making their homes in man-made structures.
Generally blue-grey in color, with iridescent feathers on the head and neck, pigeons often have markings in black, white, or brown on the wings and neck.
A short neck and small head characterize the standard pigeon; their short legs, hind toes, and level front allow for easy perching on pipes and ledges or walking on flat surfaces. Pigeons generally nest in small, flat areas away from the ground such as building ledges, air conditioning units, or window sills.
Pigeon Control Methods
The best solution for pigeon problems, is complete exclusion with a 2″ mesh net. Many ledge problems, however, can be solved by using products such as Bird Coil, Bird Wire, Bird Spikes, as well as Bird-Shock Electric Track. Solar panels and small roof overhangs can be screened off using using a long lasting, galvanized metal screen.
When bird pressure is heavy in an area, exclusion work must be accompanied by flock dispersal methods like trapping . Flock dispersal alone is not a long term solution especially in medium-heavy pressure situations when there are food, water, and shelter sources at the site.
The House Sparrow is the number two urban pest bird. Introduced as a species to North America, the house sparrow quickly spread across the country due to its lack of natural enemies and its adaptive traits. Its ability to nest in urban structures, eat urban scraps, and a large breeding capacity are some of these adaptive traits.
The House Sparrow is actually a member of the Weaverbird family and not a true Sparrow. Weaverbirds create intricate nests and relative to their size, the largest nests in the bird world. Their legs and toes are favored for branch perching and their short conical bills are ideal for seed cracking.
Their diet consists of seeds, grain, fruits, vegetables, human table scraps, and insects. They are boisterous, intelligent birds who roost in noisy flocks on branches of city trees, ivy covered walls, and under eaves of houses.
Sparrow Control Methods
The most effective method of control is to exclude sparrows from the area with 3/4″ net, making sure there are no gaps or crevices for the birds to pass through. The only ledge deterrent systems that are truly effective against sparrows are electrified ledge systems that use an intermittent pulse like Bird-Shock. New 2-chambered sparrow traps are quite effective at trapping small quantities of sparrows. The best trap has an elevated second chamber that keeps the birds happy and so content that they actually sing, attracting others to the trap. When practical, a trapping program should be combined with a nest removal program that will greatly reduce the population over time. Along with trapping, mist nets can be installed in the flight paths by certified personnel to capture these birds in enclosed areas. A new technique that has found some success for moving populations is to fog problem areas with RejeX-it. This method is most commonly applied when sparrows gather in flocks. Sparrows generally do not react to audio and visual products except occasionally in areas to which they are not very committed (new to area).
Woodpeckers primarily feed on wood-boring insects using their strong beak and long tongue to dislodge food. Some members of the Woodpecker Family (Flickers) feed on insects of the ground, while others prefer native berries, fruits, and nuts.
Arizona has woodpeckers called Gila Woodpeckers and they are protected by law from shooting or trapping without a special permit from the Fish & Game Department. It is commonly known that woodpeckers peck into wood. They do this for a several reasons: to search for food, as a mating call, to establish territory, and to build a nest. Woodpeckers have characteristic calls, but they also use a rhythmic pecking sequence to make their presence known. This is known as drumming which establishes their territories and attracts mates.
Gila Woodpecker Control Methods
The most effective control method is 3/4″ net that can be installed in a semi-permanent configuration until nesting behavior has been permanently modified. Alternatively the combination of scare devices like the Intimidator and reflective streamers used together work often enough without warranting stronger methods. Taste deterrents like the Protective Coating Spray, Hole Filler, or Paint Additive combination don’t seem to work for the Gila Woodpecker.
Like the House Sparrow, the Starling was introduced from Europe in the 19th century. However, it did not spread as fast and only reached the western coast within the last few decades.
Starlings are well adapted to urban life, which offers it an abundance of food and nesting sites. It is a muscular bird about eight inches long with long wings and a short squared tail. Starlings are very aggressive and will drive native birds out of their territory, much to the dismay of local bird watchers. Starlings are well noted for their flocking habits. They often gather in the tens of thousands, creating a nuisance when roosting in populated areas.
Starling Control Methods
Starlings’ roosting habits can be modified permanently using galvanized hardware screening, 1-1/8″ mesh net, and electric systems like a Bird-Shock track. For large flocks or agricultural applications, these birds can sometimes be moved with a well-timed, organized scare campaign using strategically placed sophisticated audio systems like the Bird Wailer or Bird Squawker units depending on the size of the area. These products combine natural sounds such as species specific distress calls, predator hunting/attack sequences, and man made sounds like canon or shotgun sounds.
Grackles are boisterous, abundant members of the Troupial Family. The common grackle has a green,blue, or purple iridescent tinted black plumage with a glossy purplish head, neck, and breast with the female of the species, slightly smaller and duller colored.
Grackles can cause several types of damage. As they are scavenging birds, large numbers can be found at dumpsters, food courts, and other human areas where food is present. The resulting amount of fecal matter creates unsanitary conditions and can result in physical damage from the uric acid. They are also an agricultural pest bird because they will eat small seedlings and damage crops.
Grackle Control Methods
There are numerous products and techniques available to combat nuisance grackles. Like with other members of the blackbird family, noisemaker units like Bird-Gard, Bird Squawker, and Bird Wailer units projecting natural distress calls and frightening sounds (selection of units depends on size of area to deter birds as well as severity of problem) can sometimes be effective in moving them from a site. If they are too entrenched to be scared away, exclusion using 1-1/8″ net or Bird-Shock track on ledges may be necessary. Grackles are too nimble for traditional mechanical ledge products. Fogging a roosting winter flock with RejeX-it irritant has also shown some success.
These sleek little birds are well known for their long migration and nesting habits. Cliff and Barn Swallows spend their winters in South America and summers in North America. They arrive around March in the southern part of the country, reaching the northern states in April. Swallows are very territorial and will always come back to the same nesting site. Swallows have made a very successful switch from cliffs and caves to man made structures for placement of their mud pellet nests.
Swallows can be a nuisance in suburban areas due to their nesting habits. The mud nests damage and deface the outer walls and eaves of residences and office buildings. Building sides often end up smeared with feces from the bird colony along with collecting on the ground. Homeowners have also reported problems with parasites entering the house through building cracks next to the nests which poses a potential health risk to humans and animals.
Cliff and Barn Swallow Control Methods
All swallows enjoy special protection under the law. You cannot disturb them once they lay their eggs in the nest. The only way to eliminate swallow problems is to take down the nests in the winter after they are gone and exclude them from returning by using 3/4″ net. The netting needs to be angled across the eaves to prevent access to any sharp building angles. Bird Slide or Slope installed upside down has also shown good results as it eliminates the sharp angles needed for swallows to build nests.
By definition, Canadian Geese are not classified as pest birds and are afforded protection by federal and state agencies. Nonetheless, Canadian Geese are increasingly becoming the scourge of suburbia as their numbers have grown in the past decade from only a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of these birds.
In fact, the familiar V shaped squadron of honking geese heading south is becoming a rare sight. Country clubs and business parks offer tasty manicured lawns and ponds providing an ideal habitat and effectively modifying their migration cycle. Geese are very opportunistic and easily exploit the new “easy living” conditions found in an urban environment.
Canadian Goose Control Methods
Non-migratory Canadian Geese are difficult to remove. Once established, immediate corrective landscaping and behavioral modification is imperative. Remove cover shrubbery, use herbicides to eliminate aquatic vegetation, and reduce fertilizer, especially around pond area, to make grass less nutritionally attractive. Several visual scare products like the Goose Guard and Flash Tape combined with a taste deterrent should be employed as soon as the birds enter the area, varying in location and type.
For more established flocks audio scare devices that project a variety of sounds through several speaker locations in a random pattern should be set up at strategically placed intervals. All systems require constant re-enforcement and should be relocated frequently, to remain a convincing threat to the birds. Physical barriers such as overhead grid wire (.96mm) and 4″ mesh net can be extremely effective barriers but are site specific. These grids can be installed above water surface to prevent landing. Fencing made of grid wire provides a discrete barrier to dissuade geese from entering property (especially from water areas) and can be electrified for increased effectiveness.
There are two main species of crow: the large common crow found across the country and the smaller fish crow found in the Southeast. The Common Crow is a big, black colored bird approximately 17 to 20 inches long with a strong stout build and a compressed bill. They have a scavenger diet and will eat a wide variety of things. Such food items include insects, frogs, small snakes, eggs, mice, and dead animal carcasses. Crows will also eat newly planted crops such as corn.
Crows are well known for their intelligence. They are social birds and the flock is in constant communication making hunting or capture of the bird very difficult. The crow’s native history along with its helpful bug eating habits have insured its federally protected status.
Crow Control Methods
It is possible to drive away large flocks of crows and other blackbirds with audio/visual scare devices such as the Bird-Gard unit combined with visual scare devices like Scare Eye Balloons, Octopus, and Flash Tape. To maximize effectiveness, hang visual products in trees before commencing noise campaign. They can be kept off ledges using 5″ Bird Coil, Bird wire, Bird spikes, or Bird-Shock electric track. 2″ mesh net will exclude crows completely from most areas.
The Turkey Vulture does not win any beauty contests. The birds’ shape and head look similar to a turkey, with a red head and dark body feathers.
This large bird lives all across the U.S. The small featherless head is ideal for foraging inside of dead animals such as deer, raccoons, and cattle. They generally hunt their prey by hovering about 200 feet above the ground.
Although the Turkey Vulture generally migrates, it may stay put during our mild winters. They generally live over open plains, desert, or forest. Groups of twenty or more may roost in trees and towers, and leave when the warm, rising air makes it easier to fly.
Turkey Vulture Control Methods
All members of the Vulture Family are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty. This is a heavy, aggressive bird that can literally destroy many standard control products. The most effective methods of control are electrified heavy duty wire systems like Bird Fence (call our offices for more details on this product) or Bird-Shock electric track products.
We can usually meet or beat written estimates from other licensed competitors in Arizona for the same quality of materials and workmanship.
Due to our many years of experience, Southwest Avian Solutions can offer very competitive prices for your home, office, or structure’s bird control problems without compromising integrity or quality, backed by our 3 – 5 year Bird-Free Guarantee.
Don’t wait any longer, call Southwest Avian Solutions, LLC. Monday through Saturday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM at 602-942-6550 or 480-969-2337 to schedule your FREE, NO OBLIGATION, ONSITE ESTIMATE. We can solve your pigeon or pest bird problems with our many different discreet bird deterrents. Bird proofing your residential or commercial property will help you finally put an end to all the hassle, mess, and health issues caused by your pest birds or pigeons on your home or business.
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