University of Illinois Extension

Controlling Nuisance Birds

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) provides federal legal protection for wild birds with the exception of species not native to North America and resident game birds. Examples are the pigeon (Columba livia), European starling (Sturnus vulgaris), house sparrow (Passer domesticus), and wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). Protection under this act extends to bird feathers and other body parts, eggs, and nests. Most birds are also protected by Illinois laws. In order to legally remove most bird species or nests with eggs or young, you will need to obtain federal and state permits, or possibly both. Endangered or threatened species may not be removed. Non-lethal control such as repellents and frightening devices should be tried before a permit for removal will be issued. If you need help with bird identification, visit our animal identification guide. The Directory of Illinois Wildlife provides information on how to prevent and solve problems with birds.

If the bird is a:

Pigeon, European Starling, or House Sparrow:

A permit is not required to kill or remove these species. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) does not protect these three species since they are not native to North America.

Blackbird:

This includes the American Crow, Red-winged Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Common Grackle, and Brown-headed Cowbird. It excludes the state endangered Yellow-headed Blackbird.

A permit is not needed to remove these birds if they are damaging property, crops, or creating a health hazard. Blackbirds can only be removed, if local law allows, by shooting with a shotgun or air gun, or by trapping. Chemical poisons are not allowed. Blackbirds can only be removed on the site where damage is occurring. Contact an Illinois Department of Natural Resources District Wildlife Biologist for more information.

Resident Game Bird:

Resident game birds include grouse, quail, ring-necked pheasant, Hungarian partridge, chukar partridge, and eastern wild turkey.

During Hunting Season

Control via hunting, where allowed during the regular hunting season, requires a hunting license and habitat stamp. Turkey hunting requires an additional permit. State hunting regulations must be followed.

For more information go to: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Pages/GettingStarted.aspx

Outside the Hunting Season

Control outside of the hunting season or in situations where hunting is not allowed requires a permit from an Illinois Department of Natural Resources District Wildlife Biologist.

Other Species:

This includes songbirds, woodpeckers, birds of prey, shorebirds, wading birds, ducks, geese except Canada geese, vultures, swans, etc.

Federal and state permits are needed to remove these species or their nests and eggs. Contact USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services in Springfield at (217) 241-6700. They will determine if the situation may warrant removal of the bird and forward information on to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service who may issue a Federal permit. If a Federal permit is issued, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will review the situation and may issue a state permit.