Discourage birds from making their home at your house
Are you enjoying the sweet sounds of songbirds this spring? If only we could keep them close for our gardens and listening pleasure without literally making them at home! This is the time of year as a homeowner that you need to stay alert so that birds making their tidy homes don’t disrupt yours!
As cruel as it may seem to say, a nest of birds in your eaves in many ways should be avoided just as much as a family of rats in your basement!
Some birds, such as starlings, English sparrows and pigeons are exceptional opportunists and should be discouraged from living anywhere in your house or garage.
At best, they might only roost on all the roofs in sight of somebody’s regular handout, all the while depositing prolific amounts of acidic droppings on each roof nearby the food. This poopy environment creates ideal conditions for supporting a healthy crop of roof moss. And worse than that, they can spread harmful diseases and create expensive structural damage to your home.
Starlings introduced from Europe
One of the worst pest birds in this area is the starling. It was introduced to America from Europe in the 19th century. With the abundant habitat of the South, starlings soon became noisy, swarming menaces, in flocks of millions.
Starlings are dark and muscular and can be distinguished from other blackbirds by their oily sheen, short tail and long and slender yellow bill.
They typically have two broods, and average eight offspring a year.
And, if you have encountered a starling pair creating a nest in your house, you will recall the extraordinary persistence and dedication to their task. Starlings are even known to stand by and watch a pair of other birds make a nest, then kick them out and use the nest.
Why worry about bird nests?
If you’re a bird watcher – as so many on the Harbor are – you probably already think of starlings as the enemy! They are considered invasive species along with pigeons and English sparrows.
As a homeowner, you’ll want to do what you can to discourage them from building their home in your house. For one thing, they use copious amounts of straw, twigs and grasses to make their nests, potentially making a fire hazard for you.
Also, gutters and drainage pipes clogged with starling nests often backup, which can cause extensive water damage.
In addition, bird nests built in chimneys and ventilation systems can block air flow and spread diseases through the system.
Bird droppings, being very acidic, can actually eat away at many substrates, especially tar-based roofing materials, eventually causing leaks. The uric acid in the feces will also corrode stone, metal and masonry and do great damage to siding, insulation, air conditioning equipment and machinery.
Translation: It’s not just yukky; bird droppings can damage your home!
Birds can be health hazard
Along with damaging your house, the bacteria, parasites and fungal agents in bird feces can pose a serious health risk.
Besides direct contamination of food or water, airborne spores from drying feces in air ducts and vents can settle on exposed food and transfer disease.
Pest birds also harbor ticks, fleas, mites and other parasites, which are great transmitters of several hundred viral and bacterial diseases.
Keep that in mind when you’re trying to remove their nests or disinfect their messes – you may want to wear gloves and even a facemask.
Discourage them from nesting
So, how do you discourage starlings from nesting at your house, especially if you would like to encourage other birds to nest nearby?
As with all other aspects of keeping a healthy house, you must be observant, vigilant and more persistent than the pests that seek to invade.
First, imagine you are a bird looking for a nesting place in a warm, dry place. Tour the exterior of your home, paying close attention to the eaves and gutter areas, as well as where the siding meets the roof and all of your exhaust fan vents.
You’re looking for any kind of 1-inch to 1½-inch holes, open spaces between trim boards, missing roofing or siding materials and especially nesting material and white bird poop present or protruding from you house. Maybe you will find what you had suspected last spring, an old nest site.
Since starlings and many other birds use the same nest for generations, you will want to remove any nesting materials from the cavity and seal the hole. Also, look for a secondary entrance.
In your inspection, look closely at the roof ventilation holes or vent strips under your eaves. They are critical to the health of your home, so you don’t want to seal them.
At the same time they are the premium nesting sites in your home, providing shelter, heat, ventilation and a view.
If there is a damaged or missing vent screen or just open vent holes, we suggest securing some heavy gauge, galvanized hardware cloth with a ¼-inch wire mesh over them. That should effectively let the air in while keeping the birds out. If the birds have created holes, block or replace the wooden material.
Starlings, when nesting someplace else, aren’t all bad. They eat massive amounts of crane fly larvae and aerate your lawn in their search. Other birds have similar benefits.
Spring Cleanup dates
Do you have items you need to throw away? If so, note when your area can take advantage of a free trip to the LeMay Transfer Station at 29 Gavett Lane N., Montesano.
For Aberdeen residents – Your time is now – and running out. You have until April 30 to bring one load to the transfer station free of charge. Just present the yellow voucher sent to you from the City for a one-ton, one-load limit.
McCleary – On April 24 large containers will be set up in the City of McCleary for residents to use for a free Spring Cleanup day.
Westport and Cosmopolis Spring Cleanup days are coming in May and June, respectively. More information for those cities will be in next week’s blog.
The Spring Cleanup hours for those with vouchers are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. (That is, they end an hour before normal transfer station hours.) The transfer station is closed on Sundays.
If you have questions about your city’s program, call your City Hall.