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Bird Nuisance

Birds can cause nuisance in a number of ways but the solution is very rarely killing them.

What can be done about bird nuisance?

West Lothian Council has no legal duty to provide a service to control birds. 

The pest control team does not  provide a bird control service, but advice for property owners on proofing may be available on request.  For more information please visit Proofing Your Building Against Birds.

Bird work can prove to be very expensive and it is not always effective. Very often it just moves the problem rather than remove the problem. If the birds are not on your property, legally we cannot make the owners of the affected property take any action.

All birds a protected under law, as are their nests, eggs and every stage of life. However, certain species may be controlled by applying for a General Licence from Nature Scotland.  This is very rarely required and non-lethal methods are preferred. 

Birds nesting at your property?

Good guidance from NatureScot (previously Scottish Natural Heritage) has been produced with regard to the Public health and safety issues with nesting birds (opens new window).

​Don't attract them

Feeding birds in gardens is widespread and is valuable in conserving garden bird numbers, particularly in the winter months. It also gives pleasure to many to see birds feeding in their garden. The RSPB recommend that fresh water and shelter are necessary in the winter to help birds. However, when feeding birds you need to be mindful that rats and mice are also present in most areas. Unsuitable or excessive bird feeding methods may support this problem in some locations. Excessive or careless bird feeding can also cause noise and fouling problems for neighbours, particularly where larger birds such as pigeons, crows, magpies or seagulls are attracted. The larger birds will sometimes discourage the smaller birds from feeding. For more information, see  Information Sheet PH08: Bird Feeding Without Problems [52KB] .

Those affected by nuisance bird feeding may take private legal action. For more information, see Statutory Nuisance law.

Environmental Health will not routinely investigate complaints of excessive or inappropriate bird feeding. It may do so if levels of other higher priority work permit and the problem is serious and persistent.

Lethal forms of control

Forms of lethal control include shooting, egg oiling or nest destruction during the breeding season. The council has no legal power or duty to carry out such functions. Specialist contractors may be able to provide assistance if required.

Forms of non-lethal control

Specialist contractors may also be able to provide assistance using forms of non-lethal control.  Examples of non-lethal control include -

  • Proofing

The recommended form of control is to proof (prevent nesting/roosting) by physical methods.  These are applied by professionals and will remove the nuisance birds from the site without harming them. Proofing can come in a variety of forms.

  • Netting
  • Pin and wire system for the edge of ledges which provides a physical barrier to birds sitting on ledges.
  • Spike system for the edge of ledges which provides a physical barrier to birds sitting on ledges.
  • Deterrent visual gel.  This is used on ledges and roosting points and a combination of visual and smell effectively stops birds nesting or roosting.


  • Deterrents

A number of deterrent methods are available. In general, they are for short term use and will not work where birds are roosting or nesting.  These include

  • Models of birds of prey - they are never successful and the birds will get used to the model and ignore it in a very short time.
  • Noise disturbance -  This is effective for a short period however the birds again will get used to it. The usual ways take the form of klaxons, gun shots or bird alarm calls.  Of the three the last one is probably the most effective. There is also the problem that the deterrent itself will become a nuisance to nearby householders.
  • Kites -  These have not been shown to have any long term effect on bird populations.
  • Bird of Prey -  This can be effective however, you must remember that, if using a bird of prey, it is a long term solution and may take up to 3 years of weekly flying to remove a stubborn colony.  Also, to be effective, the bird of prey MUST be allowed to kill on a regular basis otherwise the colony will not be affected.
Sometimes nesting or roosting birds can cause problems for the occupants of buildings. Killing or physically removing the birds is not an effective way of dealing with the problem as new birds will move into preferred sites within a very short space of time.