Wild birds

Wild birds are attracted to urban areas because they can easily find food, water and safe places to breed. However, too many birds can annoy residents and visitors and damage buildings with their droppings. Uncontrolled feeding of birds can attract other animals such as rats and mice.

Wild bird control

Many bird species, including Herring gulls, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

It is illegal to kill any bird or destroy or interfere with their eggs or nests without a government licence. The penalties for ignoring the law can be severe.

For bird control services, you should contact a specialised professional. They will be able to provide advice or install bird control devices if necessary. You can contact our pest control contractor AGS One for their bird control services.


You can prevent birds from accessing food by ensuring that all household rubbish is contained in bins with tightly fitting lids. We do not provide bins for general rubbish, but you can buy them from our contractor, Biffa.

Feeding wild birds

Many people like wildlife and enjoy feeding wild birds. Wild birds can sometimes cause problems, especially if they are present in large numbers. The acid in droppings can corrode stonework and damage buildings. Droppings are unsightly and can become slippery on pavements. Droppings, nest material and dead birds can block guttering and drains which can cause water damage to buildings.

There is no specific law that prevents people from feeding birds and most problems arise when birds are overfed. Please contact Environmental Health if there:

  • is significant bird feeding where there is evidence of an active rodent problem that is likely to affect more than one household or public area


  • are ongoing bird attacks on people in a public area due to feeding the birds.

If bird feeding is causing a problem from droppings, it is a private matter between neighbours. Try talking to your neighbour to explain the problem and ask them to reduce the amount of food they provide. If your neighbour is a tenant, there may be tenancy rules about bird feeding. Discuss the matter with the housing officer or landlord. If you and your neighbour cannot agree, you may wish to contact Mediation Plus for advice.

A gradual reduction in food will not starve birds. They will look for food elsewhere and their populations will naturally reduce.

If you want to feed the birds:

  • put out a small amount of food
  • use bird feeders
  • clean up any spilt or leftover food to discourage rats and mice
  • regularly clean and re-fill bird baths.

Wild birds and human health

Some people worry that wild birds can be a danger to human health but these concerns are usually not based on real risks.

Pigeons and other birds can suffer from some diseases that can affect humans. Unless your job or hobby involves close contact with a large number of birds or their droppings, the chances of getting sick from casual contact are very low.

After being around birds or their droppings, it's important to wash your hands really well. This helps to avoid getting sick from breathing in or swallowing anything that could make you ill.

Noise and droppings from wild birds

There is nothing that can be done specifically about the noise or droppings from wild birds. You may wish to consider bird-proofing your property or creating alternative nesting and roosting sites. If the birds are on someone else’s property, you could speak to the owner or occupier and ask them to consider using bird-proofing measures.

Aggressive birds

Dive-bombing usually occurs because adult birds are protecting their chicks. By law, if a case is brought through civil action, it may fall to the person responsible for the property where the nest is located to take reasonable steps to deal with the problem. The best solution is often to try and avoid the birds and wait until the chick is big enough to fly.

If wild birds are shown to present a danger to public safety or public health, a competent person (usually an expert pest control contractor) can apply to Natural England for a licence. The licence permits the authorised person to take, damage or destroy the nests or eggs or kill the birds following the conditions of the licence. The competent person must only operate within the conditions of the licence, and they must first be satisfied that all non-lethal methods of control are ineffective or impractical. The police enforce the law and may need to be satisfied that the correct licence is in place and that the conditions of the licence are met.

Public health issues could include nesting on a gas boiler flue which could result in fumes accumulating. A public safety example could be where an individual bird attacks people regularly and where it is impossible for that bird to be avoided.

Problems of noise, smells, damage to property and droppings are not public health reasons to be granted a licence.

Wild birds nesting on your property

Gulls and other birds can be discouraged from nesting and roosting on your property by using a variety of methods including:

  • removing old nests once they have been abandoned
  • decoy birds are small flags shaped like a bird of prey
  • netting is usually used for building facades and across valleys/gullies
  • post-and-wire systems are usually used on flat roofs and along ridges
  • spike systems are used along ridges and small horizontal surfaces, windowsills, for example

Before starting any bird-proofing work, you may wish to seek advice from a pest control company that specialises in birds. Please check whether any permissions or consents are required before carrying out any work on your property.