Birds and seagulls

Bird control

Any urban area is attractive to birds because they provide food, water and safe breeding sites. However, too many birds can often annoy residents and visitors. and can cause damage to buildings and structures from their droppings. Breeding sites may become overcrowded which can lead to diseases spreading among the birds. These sites often attract other pests such as rats and mice.

We do not carry out culling of birds.

The best way to control birds is to restrict their access to food by making sure all waste is contained within bins with closely fitting lids.

We provide wheelie bins to domestic properties and businesses for safe waste storage before collection.

Bird feeding 

Many people like urban wildlife and enjoy feeding birds. However, sometimes birds can cause problems, especially in large numbers.

  • bird droppings are unsightly and their acid corrodes stonework and damages buildings. Droppings on pavements can become slippery when wet and pose a hazard to passing pedestrians
  • droppings, nest material and dead birds can block guttering and drains and cause water damage to buildings

Many problems arise when neighbours overfeed birds.

There are no laws we can use to stop people feeding birds. However, if a large amount of rotting food accumulates, or the feeding is attracting rats or mice, we may be able to help.

If the feeding is causing a nuisance from droppings etc, it is a private matter between neighbours. If you can, talk to your neighbour to explain the problem and ask them to reduce the amount of food they provide.

A gradual reduction in food will not cause the birds to starve. They will seek food elsewhere and reduce their breeding naturally. In this way populations can be humanely reduced.

If you want to feed birds in your garden:

  • only put out small amounts of food
  • use bird feeders
  • clean up any spilt food to discourage rats and mice
  • clean out bird baths and fill with fresh water regularly

Are birds a health hazard?

Many people are concerned that birds are a health hazard to humans, but this fear is generally unfounded and exaggerated.

Pigeons, like other birds, can suffer from some diseases that can also affect humans. However, with the exception of people whose jobs or hobbies bring them into close contact with large numbers of birds or their droppings, the actual risk of disease transmission from casual contact is negligible.

It is important to practice good hygiene, like washing your hands thoroughly after contact with pigeons or their droppings, to prevent breathing in or ingesting any matter which could cause illness.

Can the Council stop my neighbour from feeding birds?

There is no law to stop a person from feeding wild birds.

We may be able to take action in serious cases, where rotting food is accumulating, or where the feeding can be shown to be the cause of an infestation of rats or mice.

If your neighbour is a tenant, such behaviour, especially on communal grounds, may be covered by tenancy rules. Contact the housing officer or landlord .

If your neighbour won’t stop or reduce the feeding, and you are having problems with birds perching or nesting on your property, you can contact a pest control company that specialises in birds. They will be able to advise you about the various bird proofing options.

It is illegal to kill any bird, or destroy their eggs or nests, without a government licence.

Noise and fouling from birds and seagulls

There is nothing that can be done specifically about the noise or fouling.

Read our advice about seagulls nesting on your property.

You may consider bird proofing works to your own roof and other suitable nesting sites. If the seagulls are on someone else’s property, you could speak to the owner or occupier of that property and ask them to consider proofing their property too. Any commercial pest control contractor would usually be happy to advise you.?

What can be done about aggressive gulls dive-bombing and attacking people?

This is usually because the adult gulls are protecting their chicks.

In law this may be the basis of a civil action and it could be the responsibility of the owner of the property to take reasonable steps to deal with the problem. However, often the best solution is to try to avoid the birds and wait until the chick is big enough to fly.

If the gulls are clearly physically attacking people to the extent that they can be shown to present a danger to public safety or health, competent persons (usually expert pest control contractors) can apply for a licence from Natural England to destroy the birds. The person must take care that they comply with all the conditions in the licence and, if their methods include shooting, to inform the police in advance. Anyone relying on this licence must first be satisfied that non-lethal methods of resolving the problem are ineffective or impracticable.

How can I prevent seagulls nesting on my property?

A number of pest control companies have specialist knowledge and before starting any work, consider seeking specialist help.

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

  • netting - consisting of strong weather-proof plastic nets appropriately secured. Primarily for building frontages and valleys
  • post and wire systems- wire or strong mono-filament stretched between steel posts that deter the gulls from roosting. Mainly used in a criss-cross pattern on flat roofs and along ridges
  • spike systems - plastic or stainless steel prongs protruding vertically, at a slight angle, from a base strip. Usually pre-fabricated in standard strip and cut to the necessary dimensions. Ideal for ridges and smaller horizontal surfaces.

What can I do about seagulls nesting on my property?

Herring gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If there are public health or public safety concerns, a general licence could be issued by Natural England to allow control measures to be taken.

Contact Natural England (previously English Nature) This permits a landowner or person authorised by him to take, damage or destroy the nests or eggs or kill birds in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the licence.

Public health issues could include nesting on a flue to a gas boiler so that fumes could build up.

Problems with noise, smells and property damage are not sufficient public health reasons to be given a licence.

An individual gull attacking people on a regular basis and where it was impossible to avoid the gull may present a justified reason for action on public safety grounds.

The police enforce the law and you may need to satisfy them that you hold a correct and valid licence and that the terms and conditions of that licence are being fully met.

You could contact local and national pest control companies who carry out this specialist kind of work.

The best action you can take is to remove old nests once they have been abandoned and carry out proofing measures to prevent nesting in the future.  This is the responsibility of the owner or occupier of buildings affected.