It’s springtime and migratory birds are returning to backyards around the
Midwest. These colorful creatures are fun to watch and feed, but when birds
build their nests close to—or inside—homes and businesses, things can get
Birds may build their nests in entryways, near awnings, under eaves, in
shrubbery or planters, and on light fixtures. Areas where construction
projects will occur during the nesting season (April through July) should
be watched especially closely because nests in these locations have the
potential to create significant and costly delays.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to remind home and business owners
that the time to remove a potentially messy or hazardous bird nest is while
it is being built. If you notice birds beginning to build a nest on your
property in an inappropriate place, destroy it immediately to keep yourself
from ending up with a nest full of baby birds in an unwanted location.
Because migratory birds are protected under the federal Migratory Bird
Treaty Act, it is illegal to harm, kill or possess them without a permit.
Their eggs are also protected. Destruction of an active nest—one containing
eggs or birds—is against the law. However, migratory bird nests may be
destroyed without a permit as long as the nest is inactive (there are no
eggs or birds in it). Destroying nests before they are completed will save
you a mess and could save you from violating the law.
State laws may be more restrictive, so check with your local Department of
Natural Resources to be sure destruction of the nest does not violate state
If a bird nest contains eggs or young, you will need to looks for ways to
live with it until the young are old enough to leave the nest on their own.
Landowners are expected to be vigilant before the nest becomes a problem,
and removal after the eggs are laid requires a permit which is both costly
and usually difficult to justify. Recognizing potential problems before
they become real problems is the best way to deal with inappropriately
placed bird nests.
Birds most commonly encountered in places which conflict with human
activities include Canada geese, mallards, robins, barn swallows and cliff
swallows. If you are not sure whether the birds nesting in your backyard
are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, you can find a
protected birds on the Web, or you can
call the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Region Migratory Bird
Management Office at 612-713-5436.