Common bird species

Many of the bird species in the U.S. are good to have around, thanks to their attractive plumage and birdsongs. However, some birds can become a serious nuisance in the wrong locations, especially pigeons and starlings.

Learn more below about common types of pest birds found across the country.

Contact us to get rid of bird problems!

Black vultures

(Coragyps atratus)

Found abundantly throughout the Southeastern United States, these broad-winged scavengers can soar high above the ground, using their keen eyesight to search for food in the sky.

Black vulture

Appearance

  • Size: 23-25” in length with a wingspan of 5’
  • Color: Glossy black in color with whitish legs and a dark gray head
Lifecycle and habits of black vultures

Lifecycle

  • They can live for 10-15 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity
  • Hatch one brood of two pale blue-green eggs once a year.
  • Young vultures leave the nest at 63-70 days old

Habits

  • Generally feeds on the decaying flesh of dead animals as well as vegetable and fruit matter, including garbage left by humans
  • Hunts by sight
  • Prefers open habitats such as low lands, garbage dumps, or open fields
  • Lays eggs in building crevices among other cavities
  • Commonly roost in groups of black vultures and turkey vultures

Canadian geese

(Branta canadensis)

Canadian geese are the most common goose in North America. Unlike other members of this family that are primarily aquatic, this species is mainly terrestrial. They have adapted well to civilization and can be found near park ponds, golf courses, and commercial businesses with spacious exterior landscaping.

Canadian geese

Appearance

  • 22-45” in length with a wingspan of 57”.
  • Body is typically brownish-gray and neck and head are black with a white patch on their cheeks
Lifecycle and habits of Canadian geese

Lifecycle

  • Can live for 10-24 years in the wild
  • Often mate for life
  • Typically lay 2-10 white eggs per year
  • Goslings may leave nest as soon as 24 hours after they hatch

Habits

  • Feed on submerged vegetation, grasses, clover, winter wheat and corn
  • Nest at edges of ponds, lakes, or swamps, around buildings near bodies of water 
  • Can go up to 30 days without food
  • Large flocks can compact soil, stunting grass growth 
  • Carry various diseases and bacteria in the fecal matter

Cliff and Barn Swallows

(Petrochelidon pyrrhonota, Hirundo rustica)

Cliff and Barn Swallows can be found in all lower 48 states of America and pockets in Alaska. The cliff swallow tends to breed mostly in the Western half of the U.S. These heavily protected species can cause problems for businesses and areas of human occupation during their nesting season, as it is unlawful to disrupt their nests. They can also make a mess with mud and feces.

Barn swallow

Appearance

  • Size: 5-8″
  • Color: Brightly colored blue, orange, gray, and white
Lifecycle and habits of cliff and barn swallows

Lifecycle

  • Average lifespan of 4 years in the wild,
  • Breed 4-5 white eggs each. Nesting and mating season is February - September, depending on geography and species

Habits

  • Feed on insects from just above the ground or water to heights of 100 feet or more.
  • Nests are made of mud, are typically built in protected areas, and are attached to vertical structures under horizontal overhangs

Crows

(Corvus)

Crows are known for being intelligent and calculated thieves, scavenging for food anywhere from the side of the road to garbage dumps.

Crow

Appearance

  • Size: Large crows are 20” in length with wingspans of up to 39”
  • Color: Glossy black
Lifecycle and habits of crows

Lifecycle

  • Average lifespan of 13 years in the wild, possibly over 20 years in captivity.
  • They breed 4-6 dull blue-green to gray-green eggs, blotched with brown and gray.

Habits

  • Feed on insects, fruits, nuts, smaller animals 
  • Nests in trees or large shrubs, 10-70' above the ground
  • May scatter garbage or transmit disease in feces

Grackles

(Quiscalus)

Located throughout the east and Midwestern region of the United States, this large blackbird is commonly found on lawns outside of homes and businesses, carefully searching for insects to devour.

Grackle

Appearance

  • Size: Adults are 11-13”
  • Color: Usually glossy black with a purple-blue or blue-green neck and breast area
Lifecycle and habits of grackles

Lifecycle

  • Can live up to 22 years in the wild, but only half of all adult grackles make it to adulthood
  • Typically breed 1-7 eggs once a year between the months of March-July

Habits

  • Feed on insects, berries, seeds, waste grain, and smaller animals such as frogs and lizards
  • Nests are often well hidden in the branches of dense trees or shrubs, under eaves, or on rafters
  • Cause millions of dollars in crop destruction
Contact us to get rid of bird problems!

House sparrows

(Passer domesticus)

The House sparrow is a significant pest to the food industry because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods.

House Sparrow

Appearance

  • Size: Less than 6" long
  • Color: Males can be identified by the grey crown on their heads and black throat “bib,” while females and young are mostly plain brown.
Lifecycle and habits of the house sparrow

Lifecycle

  • Live for 4-7 years, with up to five breeding seasons
  • May have up to three broods of 4-6 eggs during breeding season (spring and summer)

Habits

  • Feed mostly on grains and seeds, as well as tree and plant buds, sprouting plants, flowers and soft fruits
  • Same nest will tend to be used every year, resulting in a build-up of nest debris, and insects associated with their nests

Pigeons

(Columba livia)

Also known as city doves or street pigeons, they are descended from wild rock doves. They thrive in an urban environment and only require the smallest amount of shelter on buildings.

Pigeon

Appearance

  • Size: Up to 11”
  • Color: Most commonly gray with black bars across feathers and tail, reddish feet
Lifecycle and habits of pigeons

Lifecycle

  • 2 – 3 broods per year, with 2 eggs in each clutch.
  • Young pigeons leave the nest at 4-6 weeks of age
  • Domesticated pigeons often live for 15+ years, but in more urban areas they usually live for 3-4 years

Habits

  • Feeds on seeds, grains, domestic scraps in and around cities
  • Nests on ledges and steeples
  • Droppings are corrosive and can cause human slips and falls
  • Carry diseases such as salmonella, food poisoning, and more
Rentokil knows how to get rid of pigeons. Contact us here!

Seagulls

(Laridae)

Though commonly referred to as “seagulls,” these birds are properly named “gulls.” They are often found in coastal towns and cities and only a small number are recognized as being pest birds, such as the Herring gull (Larus argentatus).

Herring Gull

Appearance

  • Size: 17-26"
  • Color: Ranges from whitish-grey to brown or black
Lifecycle and habits of seagulls

Lifecycle

  • 1 brood per year with 3 eggs in each clutch
  • Lifespan is about 20 years

Habits

  • Often perch near food sources
  • Loud and competitive scavengers
  • Commonly eat fish, crustaceans, eggs, and insects
  • Usually nest in colonies on cliffs and flat roofs of buildings

Starlings

(Sturnus vulgaris)

Starlings were originally introduced to North American in 1890. From the fifteen pairs that survived, starling populations have increased a million-fold. Today, starlings can be found throughout the United States.

Appearance

  • Size: 7.5–9" long with pointed wings and short tail
  • Color: Appear to be plain black, but feathers may appear iridescent green or purple in the light
Lifecycle and habits of starlings

Lifecycle

  • Rear up to two broods of 4-6 eggs each year, in April and May 
  • Young starlings stay in the nest for about 3 weeks 
  • Breeding can extend into June and July if conditions are favorable

Habits

  • Nest in cavities in trees or buildings
  • Feed on the ground, away from roosting sites
  • Agricultural pest of standing crops, but will also flock into cities in large numbers.
  • Associated with over 25 diseases

Woodpeckers

(Picidae)

Woodpeckers get their name from their feeding habit of routinely pecking at wood for food, shelter, to establish territories and to attract mates. Their noisy drilling can make them quite a nuisance for businesses and homeowners and even cause severe damage to structures.

Woodpecker

Appearance

  • Size: 7-15” 
  • Color: Varies greatly between species but most males have red heads and many species have black and white marks with stout, sharply pointed bills
Lifecycle and habits of woodpeckers

Lifecycle

  • Can live for 4-12 years in the wild 
  • Depending on the species, there are 1-2 broods per year with 3-6 eggs each

Habits

  • Feed on insects such as wood-boring beetles, ants, grasshoppers, berries and seeds
  • Woodpeckers excavate a nest cavity in dead wood or sometimes a living tree. They will also use an abandoned hole, fence post, utility pole, or birdhouse if necessary.

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