​Pigeons are really rock doves that were introduced from Europe by early settlers.  They are now widespread and common across North America.  Building ledges, rafters, and eaves are typical nesting sites for pigeons.  The pair builds a rather messy nest in which the female lays one or two eggs.  The incubation period is 17 to 19 days.  ​​The young are fed predigested food until they are weaned and leave the nest at 35 to 37 days of age.

​Breeding occurs during all seasons and several broods are raised each year.  Pigeons live in an average of 5 to 7 years with some living more than 15 years.  An adult pigeon will eat about one pound of food a week including seeds and other grains augmented with fruit, green feed, insects, and sufficient grit for digestion.


​Pigeons are abundant in cities and in rural areas of Utah.  They conflict with humans in several ways.  Their droppings deface buildings, kill vegetation, and are aesthetically displeasing when deposited on beaches, sidewalks, and cars.  Pigeons eat and contaminate grain destined for human consumption. 

​Pigeons carry Pigeon ornithosis (psitacossis), encephalitis, Newcastle disease, toxoplasmosis, salmonella food poisoning, and other diseases.  Histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that can infect people, can be contracted from accumulations of dusty pigeon manure.  Pigeon ectoparasites such as mites, lice, and ticks may readily bite people. 



​Woodpeckers are 7 to 15 inches long and have short legs, sharp clawed toes, and a stiff tail.  Most woodpeckers feed on wood boring insects, vegetable matter, berries, or tree sap.  The Northern flicker, which is responsible woodpecker damage to Utah homes, can be identified in flight by a yellow or reddish tint under the wing and tail feathers.  The hairy, downy, three toed, and Lewis's woodpecker and the red-naped and Williamson's sapsucker occasionally cause problems in Utah. 


​Woodpeckers can cause and annoyance by hammering or drumming on houses and can cause property damage by drilling holes in wood siding and eaves.  Woodpeckers hammer to attract mates, establish and/or defend a territory, excavate nesting or roosting sites, and search for insects. 

​Wooden shingles, cedar or redwood siding, metal or plastic guttering, television antennas, and light posts are selected as drumming sites because they materials produce loud sounds.  The majority of damage occurs to cedar, rough pine, and redwood siding, although other siding materials are occasionally damaged.  Drumming is most common in the spring during early morning and late afternoon.  Drumming usually ends by early July.



House sparrows, also known as English sparrows, are established throughout North America.  Nest building begins as early as April, with both sexes taking part in the activity.  Nests may be located almost anywhere.  Three to seven eggs are laid, commonly 5, and 2 or 3 broods are raised each year.  Soon after the young leave the nest, they gather in small flocks.  As the summer advances, adults join the juveniles until the flock may number several hundred. 


​Damage from house sparrows includes loss of grain in fields, animal feed stations, storage sheds, and feed lots, and deprivation on sprouting vegetables and flower crops, seeds of newly seeded lawns, fruit tree and ornamental buds, and pecking of ripening fruit.

​The house sparrow harbors the chicken louse and bird louse.  House sparrows are capable of transmitting foul cholera, turkey blackhead, Newcastle disease, avian tuberculosis, Eastern equine encephalitis, pullorum, canary pox, anthrax, and numerous hellminths, fungal and protozoan parasites.  The noise and filth associated with their nests are nuisances in urban areas.



​Black-billed magpies are members of a bird family that also includes ravens, crows, and jays.  They are easily distinguished from other birds by their size and striking black and white  color pattern.  They have unusually long tails, half their body length, and short rounded wings.  The feathers of the tail and wings are iridescent, reflecting a bronzy green to purple.  They have white bellies and shoulder patches and their wings flash white in flight. 

​Two distinct species are found in North America, and the black-billed species is found in Utah.  Black-billed magpies average 19 inches in length and half a pound in weight.  They have black beaks and no eye patches.  They are typically found close to water in relatively open areas with scattered trees and thickets. 

​Magpies are omnivorous and very opportunistic.  They have a preference for animal matter, primarily insects, but readily take anything that is available.  Congregations of magpies can commonly be seen along roadsides feeding on animals killed by cars or in ripening fruit or nut orchards.  They also pick insects from the backs of large animals.  Their diet changes during the year reflecting the availability of foods during the different seasons. 

​Eight percent of black-billed magpie's diet consist of insects, carrion small mammals, small wild birds, hatchlings, and eggs.  The balance of its diet consists of fruits and grains.  Magpies often store or cache food items in shallow pits that they dig in the ground. 

​Magpies are intelligent birds that learn quickly and seem to sense danger.  They mimic calls of other birds and can learn to imitate some human words.  They readily adapt to the presence of humans and take advantage of the food sources provided. 

​Nest building typically begins in early March for black-billed magpies.  They build large nest, some 48 inches high by 40 inches high, in bushes or in trees usually within 25 feet of the ground.  Magpie nests are usually found in small colonies.  Other species of birds and mammals often use magpie nests after they have been abandoned. 

​Black-billed magpies lay 6 to 9 eggs.  Incubation normally starts in April.  The incubation is 16 to 18 days and young are able to fly 3 to 4 weeks after hatching.  Young forage with the adults and then join other groups in summer to form loose flocks.  Winter congregations may include more than 50 individuals. 


​Magpies can cause substantial damage locally to crops such as almonds, cherries, corn, walnuts, melons, grapes, peaches, wheat, figs, and milo.  Their damage is probably greatest in areas where insects and other foods are relatively unavailable.

​Magpies are often found near livestock where they feed the insects attracted to dung and carrion.  They also forage for ticks and insects on the backs of domestic animals.  Perhaps the most notorious magpie behavior is the picking of open wounds and scabs on the backs of livestock.  Magpies, like ravens, may peck the eyes out of newborn or sick livestock.

​Magpies eat eggs and hatchlings from wild bird and poultry nests.  They can be very destructive to poultry during the nesting season when magpie parents are gathering food for their young.  Magpies can be a nuisance because of their excessive noise and the odor than can be associated with their droppings.



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​European starlings were imported into New York in 1890 and have spread across the North American continent.  Starling nests are built in tree cavities, openings in buildings, or deserted wood pecker holes of suitable size.  Two to eight eggs are laid and the incubation period is 11 to 13 days.  Both sexes help in this activity. 


​As fledglings leave the nest they gather in small family groups of up to 10 birds, including one or two adults.  These small groups merge together into large flocks.  Merging continues until all of the birds in a local area are in one large flock.  These flocks are responsible for depredations to soft fruits and other summer crops. 

​Starlings invade many homes cracks, crevices, construction gaps, dryer vents etc.  Starlings use lots of nesting materials that often carry mites.  Because they use so much nesting material fire danger is heavily increased.