NICE BIRDS OR PESTS Nice to hear or watch, but too many in one place or any in the wrong place can be a problem.


Birds are generally considered an attractive addition to any environment. They can quickly become pests, however, when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time or too many of them are in the same place at the same time. They can damage roofs and building components. They leave droppings that can damage car finishes and mess up houses and walkways. They also can annoy homeowners with their loud noises and stubborn refusal to move on.

The most problematic or destructive structural pest birds include pigeons, starlings, house sparrows and woodpeckers. In localized areas, gulls, crows, geese, vultures, swallows and doves can become nuisances and also be very destructive.

Starlings and sparrows will nest in vents, eaves and other areas of buildings. Woodpeckers will cause damage as they peck on the siding for insects or to mark their territory. Pigeons, starlings, crows and vultures primarily create a nuisance with their roosting, but can also damage building components or property in the process.

Birds or bird droppings can also carry and spread disease. Accumulated droppings under long standing roosts can lead to two diseases that threaten humans, Histoplasmosis and Cryptococcosis. Both are respiratory diseases caused by a fungus affecting the lungs. Usually there are only mild flu-like symptoms with fever, chest pains, a dry or nonproductive cough, and headaches, but the disease can also present as acute or chronic pneumonia. If symptoms occur, they usually start within 3 to 17 days. Some infected people have no apparent ill effects.

Both diseases are usually spread when piles of droppings are disturbed and the disease carrying organisms are inhaled. While there are exceptions, Histoplasmosis is usually associated with droppings on soil. Cryptococcosis is associated with the build-up within buildings at roosts. In the United States, Histoplasmosis is endemic in certain geographic areas, including parts of the eastern and central United States along Ohio and Mississippi River valleys.

Pigeons and starlings (as well as bats) are prone to carrying Histoplasmosis. Swallows and sparrows are more often associated with internal parasites and Ectoparasites (mites and lice).