Bird Identification & Characteristics

Bird Mite Identification


Possibly Africa, as the Tropical rat mite was first recorded infesting rats in Egypt. These mites are now found throughout the world, although the Northern fowl mite (O. sylviarum) is more common in cooler climates and the Tropical fowl mite (O. bursa) more common in the warmer climates.


These are parasitic mites that infest warm-blooded animals. As their common names imply they may have preferred hosts of rodents or birds, but in the absence of those hosts, or in heavily infested structures, they also bite humans. Distinguishing each kind to its individual species is very difficult, but by identifying them to the genus level is an indication that the likely hosts also are present in the structure. None of these three species is implicated as an important vector of any diseases to humans, but their bites can be very painful and lead to itching, irritated rashes. While sexual reproduction occurs the females also may reproduce parthenogenetically, without fertilization by males. The time from egg to adult mite is usually less than 2 weeks, with 4 or 5 blood meals taken during this growth period. The nymphs generally cannot survive more than 12 days without food, while adults may survive over 2 months without a blood meal.


The mites are distinguished from most other common, structural species by the very long legs and very long mouthparts. These long, pointed chelicerae and palps stick well out in front of the head region. The 8 legs are very long and well separated, allowing for good mobility by these mites. The body is oval, with the thorax and abdomen combined to a single segment without separation. The color is light grayish in unfed mites to reddish orange in mites recently having had a blood meal. The fowl mites often seem to have a patchy, mottled appearance of dark areas.

Characteristics Important in Control

Control relies heavily on proper identification, and then discovery of and removal of the source, which will be nests of rodents or birds in or on the structure. If the source of the bird mites is determined to be nests of swallows on the exterior, extreme care must be given to the protected status of these birds. Inspection may be made using white paper or glue pads with a light background, and at least 20X magnification may be needed to make the identification. Once the source is eliminated it may be advisable to treat within attic or crawl space areas as well as within wall voids.

Pigeon Identification


The domesticated pigeon is often called a “feral” pigeon when it returns to a wild existence, and it is well adapted for living in close association with humans and our urban areas. Enormous numbers of pigeons now live a feral life. Nests are built on any convenient ledge using twigs, string, paper, cloth, or other materials. Females commonly have multiple broods each year, with 1-2 eggs per brood, an incubation period of less than 3 weeks, and the young leaving the nest in just over 1 month. Average life span is 5 to 7 years, but capable of over 15 years. Pest status is due to the many arthropod parasites associated with pigeon nests, and the potential for pathogens to live in both pigeons and their fecal accumulations. Major diseases include histoplasmosis, ornithosis, toxoplasmosis, and cryptococcosis. Droppings deface and damage surfaces, and contaminate human food and water.

Bird Identification

A large bird of variable coloration. Wild birds are normally mixed dark and light gray, rump is white, tail is rounded and with a dark tip. Wings are pale gray with 2 black bars across them, and are broad with pointed tips. Often with a violet iridescence around the neck. Nests are large and messy, and constructed on ledges or other protected locations of structures. Nests are often reused, with an accumulating fecal layer that turns the nest into a hard, pot-like structure that may even include old eggs and dead young.

Characteristics Important in Control

Feral pigeons are not protected by any federal or state statutes, but control may be subject to local ordinances and public opinion. Generally speaking they may be controlled in any manner at any time. Dispersal of flocks’ long term requires the elimination of them from structure. Rely on exclusion methods to prevent their ability to access ledges and other roosting and nesting locations.

Woodpecker Identification


Woodpeckers can damage structures by pecking holes in siding in their desire to create openings for nesting or to store food materials such as acorns. They also may be a nuisance when they peck on metal rain gutters or other structural elements in what is called “drumming”, which is a communication tool of the birds, often during mating season. Foods consist of a variety of nuts, acorns, seeds, fruits, and insects and holes are pecked into trees to seek out insect larvae, as well as gathering insects on the ground or capturing them in flight. Flickers are very fond of ants, and may eat thousands at one meal, feeding most often on the ground on insects, seeds, or berries. Sapsuckers feed on the sap of trees, drilling holes close together around the trunk and major branches to access the cambium, and then lapping the sap with a brush-like tongue. Flickers picking up insects from the soil have tongues with sticky, flattened tips, while woodpeckers that drill into trees for insects may have longer tongues with barbed tips to hold the food while it is withdrawn. In mild climates most woodpeckers do not migrate, but remain permanent residents or move only slightly. Nesting is usually within a hollowed hole in a dead tree, with new holes dug and nests created each year. From 4 to 6 eggs are laid in early to mid spring, with young hatching in about 2 weeks.

Bird Identification

Woodpeckers generally are black and white, often with red patches to varying extents on their heads. And black bars through the eye area. Flickers are more mottled brown with spotted bellies, and also with red or orange on their heads. Sapsuckers are very similar in appearance to woodpeckers. Most species have long, straight, very stout beaks, and most often will be seen resting on the vertical trunks of trees. The unique arrangement of their toes allows them easily to climb vertical surfaces, including sides of structures.

Characteristics Important in Control

All woodpeckers are classified as migratory non-game birds and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Other than exclusion and repelling, any control that may harm the birds is permitted only under supervision of regulatory wildlife agencies, and only when depredation of structures is occurring. Most effective control is with exclusion by installation of physical devices, such as netting, which keeps birds from accessing areas of the structure where they would cause damage. Repellents also exist that can be applied to susceptible surfaces.

If you have a bird problem and would like to have a Craig Thomas Pest Control, in partnership with Orkin Pest Control,representative speak to you, give us a call! Contact us by phone 800-255-6777, emailfor your free inspection today!

We at Craig Thomas Pest Control, Inc. are grateful to Univar Profession Products and Services for pest information incorporated into this work.

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