What can be done about bird nuisance?

West Dunbartonshire Council has no legal duty to control birds and there’s no legislation which prevents people from feeding birds. 

General bird control work can prove to be very expensive and, if the birds are not on your property, the Council has no statutory powers to make the owners of other affected properties take any action.

All birds are 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 NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage).  

Birds nesting at your property?

Good guidance from NatureScot has been produced with regard to the Public health and safety issues with nesting birds.

Bird Feeding Advice

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.

Our Pest Control Officers are however reporting an increasing number of rat complaints that they deal with which can be linked to excessive bird feeding.  They are finding that unsuitable or excessive bird feeding methods are contributing to this. 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. Most people would be horrified to think they were attracting rats and mice to their gardens or causing problems for their neighbours. 

Environmental Health will not routinely investigate complaints of general bird feeding, unless in extreme cases. Aggrieved individuals can however take their own civil action if they consider the bird feeding habits of anyone to be excessive.

Proofing Your Building Against Birds

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 systems 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.


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.

Good Practice

If you feed birds in your garden please follow these guidelines:

  • Do not scatter food on the ground where it is an easy source of food for rodents.
  • Bird tables are often easily accessible to rodents.  Do not overstock them or provide large quantities of unsuitable foods.
  • Use proprietary bird feeders with a catch tray to reduce debris falling on the ground.
  • Feeders should be sited with care.  Suspending them from a metal wire is the only way to ensure rodents will not get into them.
  • Ideally place small quantities in feeders daily to ensure they are emptied daily.
  • Do not use your garden as a dump for unwanted food waste, the birds may not want it either but rats and mice probably will.

If you want to give the birds a real treat and cut down the chance of a blocked drain, save any solid fat from cooking and fill up a yoghurt tub or similar. This can then be tipped out and hung up outside for the birds to enjoy.

More Information

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is the best source of information. Advice on feeding is available on their website.

For further information and advice, please contact:

West Dunbartonshire Council, Environmental Health Section, 16 Church Street, Dumbarton G82 1QL -