Killing or Excluding Birds: Which is the Best Approach to Bird Pest Control?


When you exclude an animal, you're encouraging it to leave the space you want to protect as it normally would, but when it comes to returning home, the passage to get in is blocked off or sealed up, giving the animal no way to get back in.

Exclusion is an approach that works really well for a number of animals, in a number of pest-problem situations, but it's definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, there are many cases in which exclusion approaches not only don't work, but they are ill advised. This applies for animals that you'll try to remove during the spring, which is usually the mating or breeding season for most animals. If you exclude an adult animal during this time, the youngsters of that animal will die in the nest or burrow they are safely contained in, unable to find food or fend for themselves without the safety and security of their mother. The problem with birds of course, is that they don't just breed in the spring and summer like most other animals. The breeding frenzy increases during this time, but birds can actually reproduce all year around if they have a good source of food and a solid shelter to build a nest in. They don't need much, just a little space. They'll make the most of it, too, using it to sleep, give birth to eggs, rear young, defecate, and much more besides.


Birds are just one of three prolific pest bird species in the United States — bird, house sparrow, and the European starling. They are all non-native birds (not originally from the United States and introduced at a later date by human activity), and because of their pest status, they are not protected by the same Act that covers and protects other bird species. the birds that are protected by the Act cannot be moved, killed, or disturbed in any way, and nor can their eggs, nests, or anything else that encourages their survival. If you have one of these three bird species on your property, you're lucky. If you have problems with other birds, such as geese, you're in trouble. They're much tricker to get rid of.

That doesn't mean that you can go around killing birds however you please, of course. You are not lawfully permitted to kill birds using the kind of lethal snap-trap that you would use for rats or larger scavengers. You also can't kill birds using poison. No poison has been registered for this bird species, and that means nothing is effective at actually killing them, and whatever you can buy (for other pest species) isn't suitable for them. Poison or other similar means is not advisable because it can have widespread repercussions, even killing off other wild and domesticated animals as a result of feeding on poisoned bird meat. This is a process that is commonly seen with rats that are treated with poison. Many of the rodents are immune to the poison, so they can have many times the recommended dosage in the body, which is then transferred to the predatory animal's body through consumption. If the rat has ten times the amount of rat poison in its body when a cat (for example) feeds on it, the cat has potentially ingested that poisonous amount and will likely become ill. 

How to Exclude Birds

In reality, exclusion is an approach adopted by many because of its lawfully-permitted status. No one wants to get into trouble just for trying to deal with a pesky bird problem, and that's exactly what you might be faced with if you perform unlawful activity and are caught in the act. Unfortunately, exclusion doesn't always give the best results either. If you exclude mothers without their young, the young will die in the nests they are contained in, and that's a problem that you'll then need to deal with, in a really hands-on way. You'll need to physically remove the carcasses of those birds and dispose of them in a responsible manner, taking all disease threats into consideration.

Pest bird control is one of those things that needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and there isn't just one magical solution that will sort it all out. You'll need to remove food sources and standing water to make the land more unattractive to the birds whether you use an exclusion approach or not. If you exclude them from one area but they still have everything they need in your backyard to flourish, they'll simply find another spot, perhaps in your neighbor's attic instead of yours. The problem is still there. There have even been cases of birds being excluded from one part of an attic only to set up nests in a different part of the attic, entering through a different spot.

As well as removing the food and water sources, you'll need to seal up any holes that led them into the building in the first place, if they made it that far. You may not even know where the nests are — where these birds are heading to roost down for the night. If that's the case, you won't have much luck in trying to get rid of them and, once again, you'll run the risk of killing youngsters in a bid to get the adults out for good.

There are a number of different bird control products that you can use, ranging from scarecrows and eagle or owl decoys to water sprinklers, bird netting, and strip spikes. All of them are great approaches in their own way, but none of them work for every single scenario. Scarecrows are great for spooking away birds in the backyard around your vegetable patch, but it won't have much luck in keeping them away from the roof, or your attic. Bird netting is another great method of bird control, but you can't always use bird netting when you have more than one species of bird on your hands. If you have birds and starlings or sparrows inhabiting the same/close-together spaces, the same netting size won't work for both. The larger netting for birds is still fly-through-able by the smaller birds, but smaller netting can prove dangerous to the larger birds. It's difficult for them to see and there have been numerous accounts of birds getting tangled up and dying in smaller-spaced netting types.

As we said before, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to take here.


We always recommend getting a ‘professional' opinion on pest control. This serves a number of purposes. Firstly, you can be sure that you're not taking unlawful action. Secondly, you can get an opinion on how successful your considered approach is likely to be. If there's no way your approach can work safely or properly, there's very little point in trying it. Thirdly, you may find that it is a lot cheaper to hire in the professionals to come and control those birds on your behalf than it is to go through the lengthy and expensive process of trying to repel/deter/exclude/evict the birds and still not manage to do it.

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