Problem Birds: The Worst Bird Pests Identified and Ranked

Are birds pests?

While birds wouldn’t necessarily be put in the same category as more obvious pests, such as rats, cockroaches and bed bugs, they can cause significant damage to property, especially in higher numbers – which makes them pests. Birds present several problems, such as noise pollution, flocking, nesting, excreting and crop damage. This is why bird control is so important.

Some of the most common bird pests are:

  • Pigeons (feral pigeons)
  • Geese
  • Starlings
  • Seagulls
  • Sparrows
  • Collared doves

Below, we’ve ranked the worst bird pests and bird species from the least problematic, to the most. We have also ranked their noise pollution, droppings and flocking/grouping problems out of five (one being the least problematic, five being the most).

10. Swallows

Controversial, but the main problem with swallows is that they nest within our properties. Swallows prefer to nest in quieter areas, which leads them to build nests in our sheds, garages and the outside of our houses (mainly under roofs). The main material they use to build nests is mud, which damages exterior walls. They aren’t by any means a huge threat, but they do need to be dealt with before the problem worsens.

Noise Pollution: 2

Droppings Problem: 1

Flocking/Grouping: 2

Aggressive? No

9. Woodpeckers

Not as common as other urban birds but they do present a few problems. Woodpeckers are known for loudly drumming into trees to create nests, and this can be especially irritating when there’s a group of them. Woodpeckers may also attempt to peck into sheds, garages and other properties where they think they can build nests, which can lead to structural damage.

Noise Pollution: 4

Droppings Problem: 1

Flocking/Grouping: 2

Aggressive? Yes, if their nest is threatened

8. Collared Doves

Collard doves’ main problem is they are very territorial and difficult to relocate due to their homing instinct. They can also create quite a lot of noise, especially when in groups and during mating season. Their droppings are also known to stain properties and, if left unattended, can cause permanent damage.

Noise Pollution: 4

Droppings Problem: 3

Flocking/Grouping: 2

Aggressive? No.

7. Crows

Crows aren’t known for damaging property, but they can cause disruption to residents in large numbers. Crows are notorious for being loud and when there’s a flock nesting in a tree, they can be disruptive. Crows are also very intelligent, and they’ve been known to have an uncanny memory for human faces and even hold grudges! So, before trying to remove a crow’s nest or flock, contact a pest control expert.

Noise Pollution: 5

Droppings Problem: 2

Flocking/Grouping: 3

Aggressive? Yes, if you antagonize them

6. Starlings

Starlings are classified as an ‘urban pest’ in the same way as pigeons and seagulls are. Alone, starlings aren’t too problematic, but when flocking, they can easily overwhelm trees, buildings and even airports.

Noise Pollution: 3

Droppings Problem: 1

Flocking/Grouping: 4

Aggressive? No

5. Sparrows

Another bird that causes problems in urban areas. Sparrows will nest almost anywhere and aren’t bothered by noisy areas in the same way swallows are. They also cause problems for manufacturing and food processing plants because they create nests in these areas and steal food, which raises hygiene issues.

Noise Pollution: 2

Droppings Problem: 2

Flocking/Grouping: 4

Aggressive? No

4. Magpies

Magpies are now the most vilified birds in the whole of the UK.

Magpies are known for their aggressive and arrogant natures, often bullying other birds and disrupting crop fields and even stealing and eating other birds’ eggs. They’re also very loud and often disrupt urban areas with their squawking.

Noise Pollution: 3

Droppings Problem: 2

Flocking/Grouping: 3

Aggressive? Yes, but only to other birds.

3. Geese

Geese mainly cause problems by destroying and eating crop fields. Their excrement is also a problem, as their droppings cause health concerns, especially in lakes, reservoirs and even crops. Geese are also known for being very loud and disrupting air traffic. Canada Geese can, and have, caused serious plane accidents.

Noise Pollution: 5

Droppings Problem: 4

Flocking/Grouping: 3

Aggressive? Yes, very.

2. Seagulls

Missing out on the number one spot for the worst bird pest are seagulls. Seagulls dominant our coastlines and are not afraid of humans. They have no problem stealing food out of people’s hands and even attacking them to retrieve food. Seagull droppings also deface exterior properties and can cause lasting damage if they’re not tended to. Their notorious squawking is also a nuisance and becomes worse when they’re raising and protecting their young.

Seagulls also cause massive problems for commercial seaside businesses, as they drive away customers because of their aggressive nature and food scavenging.

Noise Pollution: 5

Droppings Problem: 4

Flocking/Grouping: 3

Aggressive? Yes, very.

1. Pigeons

Taking the number one spot for the worst bird pest is the feral pigeon. While they may not be as aggressive as other birds on this list, they are by far the most invasive and difficult bird group to relocate bird in the UK. There are hundreds of thousands of pigeons littering the UK and their excrement has caused millions of pounds worth of damage to buildings and vehicles. Additionally, pigeons carry diseases and their droppings are also very toxic and can even lead to Psittacosis (Parrot Fever).

Pigeons also flock in large numbers and can cause disruptions to air traffic in the same way as Canada Geese. They are, for the most part, placid birds but their presence causes serious damage to urban areas and can make our towns and cities look grim and dirty.

Noise Pollution: 4

Droppings Problem: 5

Flocking/Grouping: 5

Aggressive? No.

If you’re suffering from bird infestations, or birds nesting in and around your property, head over to our bird control page to find out how we can help. AMES has over 30 years’ experience in the bird control industry and can supply your property with expert bird deterrents to help keep you and your property safe and bird-free.

War pigeons: an homage to war’s unsung heroes

War Pigeons: A Remarkable History

Today, pigeons are kicked to the curb more often than not. They waddle around, annoyingly getting under our feet and inquisitively asking us for the leftovers from our lunch.

However, despite society’s usually aggressive dismissal over them, pigeons once used to play a very important role on our planet.

The History of the War Pigeon

War pigeons played an incredibly important role during the First World War, namely due to their homing instinct and them being the only reliable way to send messages.

In fact, war pigeons were so important that over 100,000 were deployed. Better yet, the delivery success rate of the war pigeon was a startling 95% reaching their message destination target. This was mainly because men could not rely on man-made systems, as some could easily be intercepted, and many were still unreliable and difficult to use.

Pigeons were very popular messengers, for all countries involved, and many could be found along the Western Front. Take the First Battle of the Marne in 1914 for example, where the French halted the German advance on Paris. It was in the heat of battle that pigeons were primarily used, as other forms of radio communication were either too intricate to use and/or too cumbersome.

Marne hosted 72 pigeon lofts, and as the French advanced forward, the lofts and pigeons came with them! However, due to the French being on the move while other pigeons were ‘on duty’, none were expected to find where the French had moved to, yet, somehow, the pigeon’s natural homing instinct was able to find the French’s new location, flying essentially blind!

Pigeons in the RAF

All RAF bombers and aircrafts pilots used pigeons. They kept them in special watertight baskets, so that if the pilot had to abandon the aircraft, the pigeon would be able to find its way back to the nearest RAF base. Thousands of men’s lives were saved by the swift service of war pigeons, with many flying in extremely dangerous circumstances.

The Strength of the War Pigeon

One of the war pigeon’s main strengths wasn’t just its homing ability, but the speed in which it travelled. A trained marksman would not be able to shoot down a pigeon, their speed was simply too immense. The only way these pigeons could be felled was to employ another bird of prey to hunt it, and this was usually a falcon.

Cher Ami: The Most Famous War Pigeon

You may have heard the heroics of this famous war pigeon, as it saved the lives of many servicemen. Cher Ami was deployed when 194 American soldiers were trapped by German soldiers and had no way of communicating with allied forces. Cher Ami flew an astonishing 25 miles in 25 minutes and was actually shot through the chest during its flight. Cher Ami did not let that stop his mission, continuing his journey in order to deliver the message that would eventually save those American troops!

Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm for his incredible service and achievement. Arguably the most fascinating fact about Cher Ami was that he would have had no idea where the American’s nearest headquarters were, he had to rely on his homing instinct.

Royal Blue: Another Remarkable War Pigeon

During WW2, one pigeon from the Royal Lofts, named Royal Blue, became the first pigeon to deliver a message from a force-landed plane on the continent. Royal Blue was deployed on October 10th, 1940 in Holland. Royal Blue flew 120 miles in a mere 4 hours and 10 minutes. He successfully reported the information back to headquarters and later received the Dickin Medal.

Don’t Kill the War Pigeons!

Killing a war pigeon was quite a serious crime during the two World Wars. Stated in Regulation 21A in the Defence of the Realm document:

Killing wounding or molesting homing pigeons is punishable in the Defence of the Realm Regulations by:

Six Months Imprisonment (or)
£100 Fine

The public are reminded that homing pigeons are doing valuable work for the government and are requested to assist in the suppression of the shooting of these birds.

There was also a £5 reward for information that led to the person’s conviction!

Pigeons Today – How the mighty have fallen!

Pigeons today litter our streets and are usually shunted to the curb for getting under our feet. Racing pigeons do represent a higher class of pigeon life, though these are not seen as frequently as the common pigeon. In truth, pigeons have unfortunately become the pests of modern society, and their excrement can cause serious damage to our properties and vehicles if left unattended.

For all pigeon inquiries, feel free to contact us here, we’d be happy to help, no matter what the pigeon-related issue is!