Prevention and control of birds

Barbed wire for the fighting and prevention of pigeons

In the United States of America this ingenious barbed wire system is sold to place where pigeons are unwanted.

It is illegal to use poisoned baits or other types of poison against birds. Attempts to sterilise pigeons with baits containing chemo-sterilants has not worked in practice and experiments with sleeping pills so that experts could collect the stunned birds have not been very promising.

It is legal to shoot some birds on private property. Always check with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for updated rules on this matter before shooting birds.

Trapping device for birds

Some birds that have strayed into a building might be caught with this trap and later released into the wild.

Pigeons can in some cases be captured in locations where they sit and sleep. You can also set up special traps. It is done by certain extermination companies, but can of course also be done by local people with the requisite knowledge on the subject. The traps should be inspected both mornings and evenings. Have you killed adult birds, any young should be killed and removed too. Partly to prevent animal cruelty, but also to prevent blowflies, beetles etc. Nests should be removed completely and the nesting area should be dusted with insecticide, so that the many insects and mites that are hiding in the proximity are killed before they move on to a new place.

It makes a big difference that you do not feed these birds. It is not the small feed boards that you supply with modest amounts of feed in order to appreciate the animals that must stop. It is the wastage taking place at wharfs, loading ramps and silos and these kinds of places where pigeons and sparrows always thrive.

Constructional change of building to stop pigeons from entering

Not all pigeon infested properties are built with classical columns, but there are always shelves and cornices that birds can sit on. If you incline the horizontal surfaces with wood (as shown), cement or metal plate, pigeons do not reside on the building.

Preventive measures
Buildings should be designed so that birds cannot find nesting sites in and on them. Holes in the walls should be repaired or fitted with wire mesh. In addition, you can make a building unattractive to birds by making cornices slant (more than 45°) or by bird paste (for use only by authorized companies) as well as by physical barriers such as wire, etc.

The following means do not work: Scarecrows, either in the form of lifelike dolls, aluminium foil or rotary mills. Pigeons and sparrows quickly get used to it. Nor does scare sounds – audible or ultrasound – work. There are also no deterrent fragrances. Birds have a poor sense of smell.

The house sparrow

Latin: Passer domestica.

Sparrow, male and female

Sparrow, male and female

Both in terms of food and choice of birthplace the house sparrow is dependent on people. Nests are often placed close together in colonies. When a sparrow has bred somewhere, it will usually stay there for life, which can be 3-4 years.

The house sparrows which are sedentary birds, is at their colony throughout the year and use the nests as roosts in the winter. In March and April they collect material for the nests. The irregular, globular nests are lined with plant fibres, hair, feathers and random material such as paper and plastic.

The sparrows get 2-3 broods during the summer. They feed the young with insects, but the adults live predominantly of waste from households as well as grain and seeds. House sparrows forage on the ground, often in flocks. There are several species of sparrows that – superficially – looks like house sparrows, but they do not build nests on buildings and only occasionally eat grain and seeds.

The domestic pigeon

Latin: Columba livia domestica.

Domestic pigeon

Domestic pigeon

The domestic pigeons roosting on and in buildings are astray descendants of the ordinary pigeons. Like their ancestors, the European rock doves, they prefer to build nests up high on ledges. The pigeons can get by with very little nesting material. A pigeon’s nest is just a cake of excrement, held together by a few straw or sticks. The pigeons can however collect quite a lot material over time when they have the opportunity. The pigeons begin laying eggs in early spring and can get a dozen young during the summer.


Pigeons and sparrows are examples of animals that people often welcome, but in certain contexts they should be seen as pests. These two kinds of birds are not particularly afraid of people and they live mostly of grains, cereals and seeds. Once they have found a good spot with food in productions or warehouses, they quickly learn how to penetrate these buildings. They build their nests on and in the buildings. They are undesirable in food for the following reasons:

  1. They contaminate both raw materials and finished products with their droppings (Salmonella, mould spores etc.), feathers and dead birds.
  2. Birds’ nests are incubators for many different kinds of food pests (moths, beetles, mites etc.) as well as fleas and blood sucking mites.
  3. They eat goods and damage packaging. Pigeons and sparrows are often considered as kinds of winged rats. A sparrow eats the equivalent to 4 kg of wheat per year (a rat eats 10 kg per year), so the comparison is reasonable enough.

Birds that build their nests inside buildings will smear the goods either directly (1) or indirectly (2). This applies not only to pigeons and sparrows, but often also swallows. Therefore, one should avoid any kind of birds’ nests, especially in buildings where food is stored for short or long periods of time.

Pests in bird’s nests

British studies have shown that hundreds of nests of sparrows, swallows, pigeons and jackdaws contain food pests. It is among others brown house moths, bacon beetles, yellow mealworm beetles, Australian spider beetles, drugstore beetles, silverfish, lesser house flies, flour mites and common house mites. The British conclusion that bird nests are breeding grounds for some of the pests that appear indoors probably fit the conditions of other similar countries. There is therefore good reason to avoid birds’ nests on and in buildings where food is stored for either short or long periods of time.


( Latin: Family Strigidae)

Among the owls that breed from time to time in buildings perhaps the best known is the barn owl (Tyto alba) which frequently nests in farm buildings or on church towers. In some areas the little owl (Athene noctua) will also nest m buildings, mainly in farming country.


( Latin: Falco tinnunculus)

This bird of prey often builds on church towers in the country, and is by no means uncommon as a breeding bird in towns and cities, particularly in southern Europe. On occasion they also use the deserted nests of crows or magpies. They feed mainly on mice, but also take quite a few large insects, such as beetles.


( Latin: Corvus monedula)

In places without human habitation, jackdaws will build in hollow trees, but in towns and villages they find good nest sites on houses, and particularly in chimneys.

Rock dove

( Latin: Columba livia )

Wild rock doves build mainly on cliffs, often at a considerable height. The ordinary urban pigeons which nest on buildings in towns and cities belong to this species. They require very little nest material, and sometimes a nest consists only of a cake of droppings with a few straws or twigs. They start egg laying quite early in the spring and may produce 2-3 broods during the season.

Domestic pigeons may cause considerable damage by fouling the buildings they nest on, and their nests provide shelter for irritating invertebrates which may then invade flats and annoy the occupants. They are also thought to be involved in the spread of certain diseases.

Various methods of controlling these ubiquitous birds have been devised, but most only work for a short time. The only efficient measure is to deny them nest sites by barring access to cornices, closing roof lights and so on.

House sparrow

( Latin:  Passer domesticus)

These familiar little birds are probably more dependent upon man than any other. They live in small colonies, and build their nests close together.

House sparrows are stationary birds, and after they have started to breed in a place they will remain there for the remainder of their life which may be 3-4 years. They use the nests to sleep in during the winter.

In March and April the breeding birds collect nest material, mainly dry grass, hair, feathers and scraps of paper, which they use to build their untidy more or less spherical nests. A pair may rear two or three broods in the course of the summer. House sparrows forage on the ground, often in flocks. The young are fed on insects, but the adults live mainly on seeds and in towns on household waste. In the country they frequently invade stores of grain and fodder. They cause serious damage to stored foodstuffs