Grackles & Other Wild Birds

Grackles can provide benefits to the urban environment as a natural pest control, but certain drawbacks sometimes cause residents to seek their removal. Since grackles and many other wild bird species are protected by federal law, please review the following information when deciding how to remove nuisance birds from your property. If you have any questions about wild bird abatement, or if you find a sick, injured, or dead bird, please file a report online or call us at 972-216-6283.

About Grackles
The Common Grackle is 12-13 inches long with black feathers on the body and wings and iridescent green, blue, or purple feathers on the head. Grackles are found throughout North America generally east of the Rocky Mountains and south of the Arctic Circle. Grackles in colder climates migrate for the winter, and most grackle problems in Mesquite are caused by these birds traveling through the area during the spring and again in the fall. However, a small population of grackles stays in the area year-round.

A large part of a grackle's diet includes insects, and in this regard, grackles can provide a benefit to residents as natural exterminators of mosquitoes and other pests that are harmful to humans. However, grackles also congregate in large groups when roosting for the night, and their droppings can damage property and make outdoor activities unpleasant or impossible.

Grackles are not considered a public health risk. Some fungal diseases can be transmitted by touching the birds or their droppings but symptoms are usually mild and treatable. Viral disease transmission is also possible but very rare. If you touch a grackle or its droppings, wash your hands or other exposed skin with soap and water as soon as possible and consult with a physician if you develop any disease-like symptoms.

Reducing Grackles On Your Property
The following information is provided for residents who are considering bird abatement on their property. Although focused on grackles, these techniques may be useful for other nuisance birds as well. The key to any effective bird abatement is consistency: birds are clever and will quickly return to your property if abatement techniques are discontinued. Using multiple techniques or alternating techniques regularly is also important so the birds don’t become accustomed to any single method.

Please remember that grackles and many other wild birds are protected by federal law. It is a crime to capture, injure, or kill protected birds or their eggs without a federal permit.

Visual Deterrents
Birds have keen eyesight, and objects that resemble predators can scare them away. These devices include plastic owls and "scary eyes" balloons that mimic the gaze of a predator. These deterrents are usually inexpensive and readily available from retailers, but birds may eventually learn that these deterrents are not real threats and resettle in the area. Other visual deterrents include motion-activated strobe lights and lasers that illuminate when the birds are nearby.

Audible Devices
Certain specialized audio systems emit sounds similar to the calls of predators. When the birds hear these sounds, they are instinctively frightened and leave the area. These systems tend to be more effective than visual deterrents, but they are much more expensive and usually require a permanent installation. Residents considering these systems should review city ordinances regarding noise since their sound output can exceed 100 decibels. Noisemakers like fireworks and blank ammunition are ineffective and illegal without prior authorization.

Physical Barricades
Tree nets, electrified wires, and building spikes are used to prevent birds from roosting in areas where they are installed. While relatively inexpensive, these devices can be difficult to install and may reduce the aesthetic value of your property. Motion-activated sprinkler systems have shown to be effective as well.

Chemical Repellants
“Foggers” and other chemical dispersal devices are now available from some retailers and wildlife removal services. These devices spray a type of grape extract or other chemicals that irritate the bird’s nasal passages in a way similar to pepper spray on humans. The effectiveness of these devices is highly variable due to their susceptibility to sudden shifts in wind or other environmental changes. Although these bird repellant chemicals are generally regarded as safe for humans, concentrated exposure can result in irritation to the eyes and skin. Therefore, chemical repellants should be administered by professionals only.