There is also a distinction between
native/endemic and introduced birds; native/endemic birds are protected
by law while introduced species are not (except waterfowl out of the hunting
season)so you cannot just destroy birds willy nilly.
However, some forethought or lateral thinking can avoid
or solve problems with minimal inconvenience to you. If the problem is minor
or only occasional and does not seriously threaten your health or livelihood,
consider tolerating it as a small price to pay for the pleasure of living
with wildlife around you. However, if birds continue to be pests
despite all the preventative measures that you take, you may need to talk
to your local department of conservation officers about further control
Birds spoiling the garden
A variety of birds are
considered at times to be garden pests because of their habit of searching
for food in the leaf litter and upper layers of the soil by scratching
and digging. In your garden this may mean that your mulch gets thrown around
everywhere, your sprinkler system disturbed and newly planted seedlings
uprooted. The blackbird and thrush can cause trouble in this way
and the bigger the bird, the heavier the objects they can kick around.
Where you have problems, it is recommended that you use a suitably coarse
and heavy mulch, such as pebbles or crushed rock, to protect the ground
surface, as well as placing logs or bricks around newly planted seedlings
and over sprinkler lines. Seedlings can also be covered temporarily with
plastic or metal mesh.
Many people have experienced
attacks by magpies and spur winged plovers and falcon. This may happen
when breeding pairs of these birds are trying to nest and protect their
eggs and chicks from the humans and dogs that are seen as potential predators.
Such attacks are usually very seasonal and will normally cease. Remedies
include wearing hats or helmets with big eyes painted or glued on the back,
carrying sticks or flags to hold or wave above your head when in the swoop
zone and simply choosing a different route to avoid the birds while the
swooping occurs. A supply of decorated sticks with flags on can be stocked
where, for example, schoolchildren have to cross swoop-prone open spaces.
Staring at the birds when they swoop may also deter them, but it is not
recommended that this be tried without wearing eye protection such as safety
goggles. Cyclists should dismount and walk through the swoop zone.
Pet birds destroying your house!
“Help! My cockatoo is eating my house!” This seemingly bizarre cry for help
is heard regularly. Cockatoos,
especially Sulphur crested Cockatoos, like to chew on materials of certain
textures and hardness. These materials include the softwoods such as western
red cedar or pine used extensively for window frames and other non-structural
house timbers, including weather boards. If the cockatoos are not stopped,
over a period of weeks they can cause considerable damage. (The following
is mainly for Australia). The best solution lies at the architectural design
stage of the building vulnerable softwoods should never be used externally
in buildings where cockatoo chewing damage is likely. With existing buildings,
it may be possible to hang out sacrificial pieces of softwood for the cockies
to chew on in peace, while deterring them from attacking your house by
spraying them with a hose whenever they try. If the house is not constantly
attended, however, the solution may be to cover the wood with wire mesh
or metal flashing. Alternatively, protective shade cloth or bird netting
can be hung on a roller, attached to the eaves, so that it can be rolled
up when the house is occupied. Very often, house chewing by cockatoos seems
to be associated with somebody in the neighbourhood providing food for
the birds, thereby attracting them close to houses. Feeding of birds in
these circumstances is not recommended. Chewing of houses is only one of
the problems generated by providing food for birds.
Birds taking fruit
Whether you have just
one tree and a couple of fruit bushes in your back garden or own a large
commercial orchard or vineyard, you will probably have found that some
bird love the energy rich berries and fruits produced. Silver eyes, blackbirds,
starlings and Kaka, may try to harvest some of your fruit before you can.
The best remedy for this is the use of bird proof netting to stop the birds
getting access to the fruit in the first place, combined with leaving a
tree un-netted for the birds, to keep them away from the rest of the orchard.
Birds stealing fish
If you enjoy fish and
fishing, you can find yourself sometimes at odds with birds that share
your interest. A garden fishpond, filled with delectable goldfish, may
come under the scrutiny of a heron, kingfisher, or shag. This bird
may keep returning to a good source of food until it has cleaned it out.
Apart from providing plenty of shelter for your fish within the pond, you
could also try stringing bright coloured plastic coated wires across the
pond just below the water surface. The same solution may be applicable
to larger areas of water, such as farm lakes and aquaculture ponds, which
may attract shags. However, aquaculture ponds can be protected more securely
by netting them over to exclude fishing birds completely.
Birds stealing grain
Birds that receive a
lot of bad press as being devourers and despoilers of grain crops include
the feral pigeons, game birds etc., these birds have been implicated as
pests of some crops. However, damage caused early in a growing season is
not easy to quantify as apportion of the final harvest; crop plants can
recover from early losses. Moreover, because of patchy impact regional
loses may be trivial even though some individual farmers may be more seriously
affected. Effective measures to eliminate or reduce damage include the
use of decoy crops or decoy food dumps, the development of regionally integrated
crop management and the use of scare tactics occasionally reinforced by
selective shooting (Remember native and endemic birds are protected by
law). A long term remedy would be compensation or insurance scheme to recompense
badly affected individual farmers.
The unsupervised use of poisons to kill
birds is a technique that threatens other wildlife, human health and the
environment. The hawk, falcon and morepork may get secondary poisoning
from eating a targeted bird that is just about to die.
Birds fouling paint work etc.
In our constant quest
for tidiness and order we can sometimes be frustrated by the tendencies
of some birds to mess up the place with their droppings, their nesting
activities and their foraging behaviour. ducks, black swans, pukeko, coots
and other herbivorous waterbirds can leave slippery green droppings on
paths and driveways close to ornamental lakes and other waterways. Public
feeding of these birds in problem areas should be discouraged, and areas
of succulent vegetation such as well watered and fertilised lawns
could be replanted with less tasty shrubs and ground cover plants.
If you find ducks in your swimming pool, they may move on quickly in the
absence of appropriate food. Small ducklings should be removed immediately
as they may not be able to do so themselves. Regular incursions suggest
the acquisition of a good pool cover. Alternatively, visual screens designed
to prevent birds on the pool seeing the approach of potential predators
have been effective in some situations. Such screens may be made with hessian,
shade cloth or similar material, approximately one metre high, close to
the edge of the pool. Red billed gulls and shags may roost on boats, with
predictable consequences. The best solution is to use detachable (and washable)
covers for all affected surfaces or you may try a imitations predator bird
(such at eagle owl or hawk) these can be brought in some sports/fishing
shops. Welcome swallows often try to build nests beneath overhangs such
as the roofs of verandahs where droppings and nest debris accumulate on
the floor beneath. This problem can usually be solved simply by attaching
a small platform or tray immediately beneath the nest to catch the debris,
which can be removed at the end of the breeding season. If nesting by
swallows is definitely not wanted
placing a tennis ball in the completed nest prevents use of that nest,
and that site, by swallows. You can also spray or paint the attempted attachment
areas for a swallow’s nest with vegetable oil, or smear them with petroleum
jelly, to hinder attachment. Swallows, sparrows and feral pigeons can cause
trouble by roosting on the ledges and girders beneath the ceilings of warehouses,
and in other places where their droppings cover everything beneath. If
it is impossible to stop the birds entering the building, try lengths of
nylon fishing line strung tautly along, and a few centimetres above, the
roosting ledges to prevent the birds from settling there. Welcome swallows
(and other birds) can be prevented from roosting beneath the ceiling by
stretching nylon fishing line along the length of the building, at 12 cm
spacing, attached to the underside of roof support beams. The swallows
have difficulty flying up past the lines to perch. When clearing dried
droppings from buildings, wear a dust mask to prevent possible disease
from inhalation of dust particles.
We are familiar with
bird song in the background to our lives, to the extent that it is routinely
used to add atmosphere to films and TV shows. However, some people who
are sensitive to certain sounds may be irritated by the calls of particular
birds around their houses. The sound of magpies, the cries of mynas, Tui
and bellbird , and even the repeated cooing of pigeons and turtledoves
have all been known to upset someone at some time. Some birds are only
noisy for part of the year, such as when breeding. Neighbours who feed
birds and thereby attract greater numbers of them may exacerbate the problem.
You may be able to solve this by talking to the neighbours or by changing
the vegetation or vantage points used by the birds around the house. Otherwise,
it is better to accept that the birds are there legitimately and to invest
in thicker curtains double glazing or earplugs.
Birds that crash at night
You may find that if
you leave your budgie or canary in a cage by a window at night that a morepork
will crash into your window trying to get to the bird. Just cover
the cage up or pull the curtains, then nothing will frighten your bird.
The same goes for aviaries outside, birds of prey may visit it at night,
and having shutters or blinds to pull down over the aviary will stop the
attacks. Falcons may also pay a visit during the day and view your birds
as a food source. Remember these birds are protected and should not
be harmed. Try planting non-poisonous shrubs around the outside of
the aviary and making the birds less visible to a predator.
Birds hitting windows
We have all had birds
hitting our window at some time or another. The problem for birds
is that they see the reflection of trees and plants in the window and think
they can fly straight through. The design of some houses does not
help either as often you have windows on each side of a room so birds may
think they can fly through. Decks also now have glass protection,
sometimes just over a metre high and this may cause collisions for birds.
Trimming trees and shrubs that are near windows may help. Letting
deck glass get dirty. Having a net curtain (outside) or hanging things
outside the window.
Some of these notes have been adapted from Birds Australia
Parts taken from - BA
Information Sheet No.14. Page 2 of 2. Updated 18 MAR 2002