Wild birds can be a nagging problem on any poultry farm. Wild birds can create a mess with their droppings, consume feed, contaminate feed and damage insulation.  Wild birds have also been shown to carry Newcastle disease, coccidiosis, Salmonella, fowl pox, West Nile Virus, fowl cholera, Mycoplasma galisepticum (MG), round worms, tape worms, Northern Fowl Mites and several other maladies affecting poultry.  Clearly, wild birds are  undesirable in or around poultry houses.  However, before beginning any effort to control wild birds, it is important to understand effective approaches and the legal limits.

Legal Bird Control
 It may be tempting to take what appears to be the quickest, easiest way to eliminate wild birds (i.e. shoot them, trap them, or poison them).  Yet, this approach carries some heavy legal penalties.
All wild birds (except pigeons, house sparrows and starlings) are protected by federal and state laws. You may not trap, kill or possess protected species without federal and state permits.  Furthermore, regulatory officials are serious about enforcing these laws.

General Wild Bird Control
 Wild bird control methods may be divided into general categories: active control methods and passive control methods. While active methods are designed to reduce or disperse large populations quickly and passive methods provide long-term management potential, a combination of methods is usually most effective.
Active control methods are those methods that result in reduction or dispersal of the wild bird populations.  Effective, active control methods may be divided into five broad classifications: frightening, poisoning, trapping, shooting, and nest destruction.
While it is illegal to harm or capture protected bird species, it is not illegal to frighten them. Frightening devices such as bird distress calls, pyrotechnics, flashing lights, whirling shiny items, balloons, hawk or owl figures and a variety of other methods can effectively reduce bird concentrations in a given area.  However, it is important not to get in a routine, successful operations depend on timing, persistence, organization and diversity in device used.  
Although effective poisons for nuisance bird species exist, most of these toxicants are restricted use materials and can be toxic to humans.  In addition, it is important to remember that use of these poisons means you are liable for the death of any birds consuming the poisons.  
Therefore, is very important to use poisons prudently and according to label directions.
There are numerous traps and trap designs available from a variety of sources.  Most designs are live traps, which allow the user to free everything other than house sparrows, pigeons and starlings.  When using traps, it is important to feed birds with the bait for a few days (pre-bait) prior to starting and to check traps often.
Shooting is not an effective means of destroying a large number of birds.  Yet shooting can be an effective method of eliminating a few individual house sparrows, pigeons or starlings within a relatively small area. However, choosing the right weapon and location for shooting is obviously important.
Nest destruction can be an extremely effective method of reducing wild bird numbers. However, nests are often constructed in locations that are high above the ground to avoid predators, so nest destruction efforts can become very involved. In addition, nest destruction should be approached with caution since nest materials often contain many thousands of insects (especially mites) and possibly disease causing bacteria or viruses. It is important to avoid spreading these vermin and microbes to you or your flock.

Passive Control Methods
To survive, all wild animals (including birds) need the following four essential factors: space, food, shelter and water.  Effective long-term control of wild birds involves limiting access to as many of these essential factors as possible.
Space allows wild birds to rest, roost and relax while on the farm.  Most birds prefer space that is high and protected from predators such as cats.  Use of roosting spots should be discouraged by use of netting, sticky repellants, or “Porcupine wires.”
Since pigeons, house sparrows and starlings can feed on a wide variety of materials, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate food sources on poultry farms.  However, eliminate access to as many food sources as possible.  Clean up spilled grain or feed.  Reduce conditions that lead to multiplication of insects. Avoid planting trees that produce fruits that birds may eat near poultry houses.
Water is essential for the survival of all animals. Although it is virtually impossible to limit the access of wild birds to every water source, it is important to ensure that areas around poultry houses are well drained.  Standing water can encourage not only wild birds, but insect populations that could provide food or spread diseases (like mosquitoes).
Active methods are designed to reduce large populations quickly, while passive methods provide long-term management potential.


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