While the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects most wild birds, three species—pigeons (Columba livia), European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), and house sparrows (Passer domesticus)—are considered pests in the United States and not protected from control, dispersion, or extinction. 1 These non-native birds are considered invasive in North America and can be removed at will.
Other non-native bird species exist in North America. Still, these three have been targeted because they threaten the survival of native bird species by eating food or occupying nesting or roosting areas.
Do not feed or water sources.
Eliminate or reduce pest bird water and food sources. Clean gutters and avoid puddles and ponds where birds can drink. If pest birds are a major issue, you may have to abandon all birdbaths, as they use both pest and desirable songbirds.
Never leave bread crumbs or other food scraps on the lawn, as pigeons and sparrows will consider it a permanent invitation. Keep trash cans covered and clean. If pest birds are eating the food in your bird feeders, try switching the food type.
Pest birds can be trapped, but not easily. There are non-lethal funnel traps and spring-loaded net traps. These will let you free any non-target birds that get trapped. They should be humanely exterminated rather than released, as pest birds can return from 50 miles away and cause problems in other communities. Pest bird reintroduction is often illegal in many areas.
Permits are required in some communities, so check local ordinances first.
In rural areas, pest species can be hunted with firearms at any time and without quota. Always use firearms responsibly. Pest bird hunters may prefer air-powered pellet rifles over gunpowder-powered weapons. Check local laws; even pellet guns may be prohibited in cities and suburbs.