Birds play a vital role in our natural environments. They contribute to outdoor recreation, and provide a balance of predator and prey in our ecosystems. But they can also be harmful pests. Pest bird activity includes:
- Introducing diseases and ectoparasites to human environments
- Creating hazardous working and living environments
- Producing noise, feather & dropping accumulations
- Contaminating food products
- Creating structural deficiencies
- Creating liability with physical contact
- Detracting from a professional corporate image
Orkin Canada will provide a thorough assessment of your bird problem and implement immediate controls and permanent solutions. We tailor our programs to the habitat and biology of the bird species for outstanding results and full compliance with the Ministry of Natural Resources Fish & Wildlife Act and Environment Canada’s Migratory Bird Act.
Overview of Birds in Canada
While birds are ecologically important creatures that frequently eat insect pests, many species are also nuisances in urban environments. Prone to nesting in, on, and around hospitals, office buildings, apartment complexes, and other manmade structures, pest birds can create serious problems that may eventually necessitate some form of pest control. Some avian species earn their pest status by carrying and transmitting diseases, damaging buildings and equipment, creating fire hazards, and serving as a host of other harmful pests such as fleas and ticks.
Types of Birds in Canada
Six types of birds found in Canada are classified as nuisance pests: house sparrows, starlings, pigeons, woodpeckers, gulls, and Canada geese. Also known as English sparrows, house sparrows are invasive pests that regularly bully native birds. Starlings cause serious problems for livestock and the associated industry, while pigeons congregate in large numbers and produce excessive amounts of hazardous waste. Mostly a noise nuisance, woodpeckers are also capable of causing structural damage. Gulls, like pigeons, cause problems via fecal contamination, while Canada geese populations can grow nearly unrestricted, destroy many plants, and also leave behind potentially harmful droppings.
Nuisance birds are tricky creatures to control due to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which protects certain species from trapping and relocation practices. As such, pest control professionals often need to obtain federal government or province-specific licenses in order to remove bird infestations legally. The delicate nature of bird control makes it important to learn everything possible about specific pest species in order to handle infestation situations properly.
Appearance / Identification
Canadian bird pests vary in length, overall size, and colouration. The smallest pest bird species, house sparrows are approximately 14 to 18 cm long with a wingspan of 19 to 25 cm. At the other end of the spectrum, Canada geese boast a wingspan as long as 182 cm and range from 90 to 120 cm in length. Some of the most common bird colourations include shades of grey, white, black, and brown. Pigeons, which rank as arguably the most colourful bird pest, may appear with streaks of light blue, green, lilac, peach, and various other shades.
Many of the pest birds in Canada are migratory species which fly south when the temperatures approach the freezing point. Many pest birds have a widely distributed population and benefit greatly from the development of cities and the distribution of human populations. Some species construct nests and raise their young in elevated areas, while others nest on the ground. Birds generally prefer to live in the immediate vicinity of a water source but have no trouble flying reasonable distances to collect food. Most species adapt well to various surroundings.
Pest birds mainly eat fruits, seeds, grains, and insects. Many species live in close proximity to people and often feed on human food like bread, popcorn, peanuts, cake, discarded restaurant fare, and similar items. Much to the dismay of farmers, pest birds frequently target crops and livestock feed, as well. Gulls and Canada geese in particular maintain special dietary preferences. Gulls often feed on fish, rodents, and carrion, while the geese mostly consume plants like cattails, clover, and grass.
Life Cycle / Reproduction
Without exception, birds mate and rear their young in the spring and summer months. On average, pest birds produce one or two broods each year. House sparrows, however, can produce as many as five generations annually. Most birds require an incubation period of two weeks, though the eggs of both Canada geese and gulls require nearly a month of incubation. Newly hatched birds then leave the nest after an average of two to four weeks of preening. Depending on a variety of factors, nuisance birds typically live between 2 and 10 years.
Problems Caused by Birds
Several species of pest birds are capable of transmitting diseases to humans and livestock. Most notably, pigeon excrement often contains the fungal diseases histoplasmosis and cryptococcosis, which are especially dangerous to people with compromised immune systems. Furthermore, the droppings of most pest birds create aesthetic problems when the fecal matter sticks to buildings, potentially even causing the structure to erode. Birds can also create drainage issues and fire hazards by nesting in the small crevices, drains, and gutters of buildings.
In addition to spreading disease and damaging property, pest birds regularly serve as hosts for parasites like fleas, mites, and ticks. Additionally, many species are aggressive towards humans or native bird populations.
Detection / Signs of Infestation
Birds are not exactly stealthy creatures, and infestations usually become evident with the increased presence of adult birds, the frequent occurrence of chirping and other noises, the sighting of nests, and an increased quantity of droppings in the area.
Since birds like to remain close to water, a great way to decrease the possibility of an infestation is to monitor accumulations of moisture on the roof, around air conditioners, and in other favourable nesting locations. Fix any broken or deficient drainage systems, and cover outdoor garbage containers tightly. Any notable sources of food should be eliminated, as well.
Control / Removal
Modifying the surrounding environment can aid property owners in ridding buildings of nuisance birds. Netting or spike strips can be strategically positioned to deter or prevent birds from landing and nesting. Noise devices, such as generators that mimic the sounds that natural predators make, work best in agricultural settings, while visual scare tactics are effective in the short term or when paired with other prevention and exclusion techniques. For particularly aggressive birds and those protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, call a fully licensed pest control professional to take care of the problem legally and effectively.