Songbirds – Pigeons and Doves

General Information

Removing a nest

  • Most songbirds only use a nest once and build a new one before they lay eggs. Once young have left the nest, you can remove it. Some species will multiple times from spring to early fall. Never remove an active nest that has eggs or young, as they are protected by federal law.
  • If a nest is near an area you must walk under, adult birds, such as Mockingbirds, may dive bomb you to protect the nest. If this is happening for the first time, and a nest has already been made, you may have to avoid the area until the young have left the nest.
  • Prior to a bird building a nest, you can try to discourage it from nesting with wind chimes, or hanging metal strips.

Woodpecker damage

Woodpeckers peck at homes for three reasons.

  • Fast pecking, known as “drumming”, is the male woodpecker’s attempt to make as loud a noise as possible to attract a mate and to announce to other male woodpeckers that this is his territory. Tightening up loose parts of the house like gutters and loose siding may solve that problem. Hanging flashy objects nearby can also scare the woodpeckers away.
  • If you are seeing holes drilled or chipped away, it may mean you have insects living in your external boards that the woodpecker found. According to Audubon, Carpenter bees will often drill holes into wood laying eggs that you don’t even know are there. Woodpeckers open the tunnels behind the holes and eat the hatched larvae that would produce more carpenter bees. Attaching an untreated board onto the outside of your house for the bees will provide habitat for valuable pollinator species, and you can replace it as often as needed! Hanging shiny objects or metallic strips can also discourage Woodpeckers from searching for insects.
  • If the woodpecker seems to be making a round hole big enough for it to enter, they are creating a nest or roost. You will need to stop this by blocking access to the hole with bird netting, metal flashing, or some other barrier. The bird knows this as a good spot now so it may be easier to install a woodpecker nest box on the side of your house so that it uses the box instead of making new holes in your home. If you fill the box with wood shavings it will keep them from choosing other wood to make their bedding.

Window Strikes

  • Many birds fly into windows that look invisible while they are in flight. To prevent collisions, you can put a few decals on the window or purchase subtle but effective decals specifically made to alert birds.

Reducing flocks of Pigeons and other birds

Physical barriers usually work to keep the pigeons from landing or nesting where they are unwanted. Home or building owners can use netting, fishing line, or barriers to block access to a roost or nest site. Many safe and effective commercial products are also available including plastic bird spikes. Using sticky products is not recommended as these products can get on skin and feathers causing on-going problems for the bird. If pigeons are roosting on a utility wire or other area where they can’t be easily blocked, a weatherproof bird sound device that plays bird alarm or distress calls may chase them away.

Smaller birds can be discouraged by blocking any and all possible nest holes with boards, bird netting, or any physical barrier that might be cosmetically and structurally appropriate. Birds can nest in gutter downspouts if there is a horizontal section of pipe near the entrance so avoid this gutter design.

It is best to discourage them before they start nesting by eliminating or blocking access to potential sites. If you want to encourage these birds to nest on your home, you can build ledges or provide nesting boxes to attract them. Since these native birds are protected and beneficial, once they are nesting they should be left alone and given as much space as possible. Native bird nests, eggs, and babies are protected by law and cannot be moved or destroyed.   Their eggs are only in the nest for two weeks before they hatch, and then the young are only in the nest for two more weeks after that.