Can I Remove the Bird’s Nest on My House?
By Chris Williams on April 15, 2016.
When I was cleaning our roof gutters yesterday, I noticed a bird nest tucked into the attic vent. It must be new because it already had an egg in it. I didn’t see the birds when I was on the roof and when I looked at them from the ground, I couldn’t tell what they were. Can I tear this nest down before the babies hatch? V. E., Lee, NH
That’s a tough question to answer without knowing the type of bird involved. Most of our native birds are protected under a federal law known as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Legally, you cannot kill, possess, or harass these birds in any way, including removal of a nest or eggs. For more, see Can You Legally Remove That Bird’s Nest? Even birds that we sometimes think of as pests such as woodpeckers and crows are protected by this law.
Starlings, House Sparrows, and Pigeons Are Not Protected
However, there are three pest birds (pigeon, English or house sparrow, and starling) that are not protected under federal law. Generally, if the nest belongs to one of these three birds, you can remove or kill the birds, or you can remove the nest and eggs or young. I say “generally,” because there may be some local jurisdictions that protect even these three pest birds. And in some cases, permits may be required to remove these birds.
Your nest probably does not belong to a pigeon, unless you live in a city (see Is That a Pigeon’s Nest?). The nest could easily belong to a house sparrow (You Can Legally Remove a House Sparrow’s Nest) or a starling (Starlings Will Nest in Homes). Both of these birds are cavity nesters, meaning they will nest in tree holes or in any small, dark opening on a house. Once these birds have found a desirable nest site, they can occupy it for months while they raise repeated clutches of young.
Bird protection regulations are very confusing and vary with each location, which is why it’s a good idea to leave it to professionals. Give Colonial Pest a call. Our experts can identify the birds and can remove the nest if it is legal to do so. More importantly, you probably need some bird-proofing done on your house (see Keeping Nesting Birds Off of Your House). We can seal and reinforce openings that are attracting nesting birds, forcing them to look elsewhere for that ideal nest site.