HomeNews

Prevent nests to keep nuisance birds away

Baby Sage Sparrows in a nest amongst some brush.  (Courtesy photo)

Baby Sage Sparrows in a nest amongst some brush. (Courtesy photo)

A buffet that caters to local ravens. (Courtesy photo)

A buffet that caters to local ravens. (Courtesy photo)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Despite the pleasures of watching birds or hearing their songs, sometimes living in close proximity with birds can be a hassle - ravens get into trash cans, a blackbird might dive bomb the family dog and house finches may start raising their young right next to a shiny new car.

Birds frequent areas near houses, dormitories and work areas like hangars and offices - just about everywhere on base. They sometimes build nests, lay eggs and raise their young in places that pose a problem for people.

But before residents or workers try to clear birds out of home or work areas they need to know that most birds, their nests and young are protected by federal law.

However, that doesn't mean nothing can be done. People can take action to stop a problem before it starts. But residents and facility managers need to act early - meaning before birds get a nest completed. They can block access to areas where birds may want to roost or nest. They can also remove nesting material before the nest is completed and then block access. But once a nest is complete and has eggs or young, it is too late to take action.

Nesting season may start as early as February and can last into July depending on the weather.

The key is to identify areas where birds may nest that would cause a problem and prevent birds from gaining access to those areas. This is often as simple as pruning vegetation or blocking access to a nesting site using wire mesh or a solid surface like wood.

"It's important base residents and employees share the environment with birds because Edwards is home to over 200 species of birds, most of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act," said biologist Mark Bratton, who works at Environmental Management.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects birds, their nests, young and eggs from being killed, moved, collected or harmed in any way without permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Some of the most common birds seen near base housing and work areas are Brewer's blackbird, the common raven, the house finch, the house sparrow, the European starling and Say's phoebe. The most common species to nest near housing areas are Brewer's blackbirds, house finches and European starlings. They like to nest on flat surfaces that are partially to fully secluded and high up, like on the front or back porch eaves of a house. They can also be found nesting on the tops of brick walls, in holes left uncovered, attic vents, garage rafters, lighting fixtures and many other places in and around base housing.

Ravens, owls and other raptors often nest on power poles, large trees and tall structures that offer protection from the elements. They sometimes build nests in hangars.

If base residents or facility managers do not want birds to nest in their areas, they can screen attic vents, angle flat surfaces, fill brick holes, make ledges inaccessible and prune vegetation to reduce the amount of suitable nesting habitat.

"The key to discouraging birds from nesting is to be persistent. We often remove nests that are clear of eggs or young and see the birds taking new nesting materials to a new location," Bratton said. "That is why it is important to take measures that discourage birds from nesting prior to and during the early part of nesting season."

It is possible to remove the beginnings of a nest as long as there are no eggs or young in the nest. Once eggs have been laid in a nest, the nest must be left alone until the nest is clear of eggs and young. The time until the young can fly away, or fledge, depends on the species and can take from a few weeks to a few months.

If people find a nest blown to the ground, they can put it back in a tree. "It's an old wives' tale that a mother bird will abandon her babies if the nest is touched by a human," said Bratton. If a dead baby bird that's fallen from a nest is found, it may be thrown away. People should always wash their hands after handling a nest or bird.

Anyone on base may call Environmental Management at (661) 277-1401 for assistance in determining whether or not the nest is active.

For a free video with ideas for bird-proofing your areas, visit the Housing Office at 402 Forbes Ave.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

News Search