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Wildlife Damage Management

Red-winged Blackbird


Several species of black colored birds are often found roosting together in large groups. In Alabama, you may find grackles, crows, starlings, red-winged blackbirds, or brown-headed cowbirds roosting together, especially in urban and suburban areas. During the summer, they roost in deciduous trees. In the winter, they tend to move to conifer trees to enjoy the cover they provide after deciduous trees have lost their leaves. Throughout the year, they forage around dumpsters and outdoor restaurant areas where discarded food items abound.

Large roosts of black birds become a problem in several ways. In rural areas, black birds can damage crops like corn and other grains with their intensive foraging. In urban areas, they may ruin personal property with their droppings, create unwanted noise, or drive away other desirable bird species.

Female Brown-headed cowbird USFWS public domain image

While migratory birds are federally protected, no such protection exists for red winged blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, crows, and magpies once it is determined that they constitute a nuisance or health hazard. They may be removed by lethal means if a permit is granted by the state. Contact your nearest Wildlife Services Office, within APHIS, USDA to begin the process. No permit is required to use scare or scatter devices to discourage roosting sights. Porcupine wire or a heavy gauge wire suspended tightly just above a preferred roosting sight (such as a roof line) may be enough to send the flock packing as well.

More Info
(From Kansas State University Extension)
Damage Control
(From Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)