Pesky Black Bird Control. .22 Snake Shot, Pellet Gun, etc?


May 18, 2003, 01:43 PM
Fellow shooters,

A co worker of mine has a problem with pesky birds. They keep their dogs outside during the day and the birds eat the dog food before the dogs can get to it. I guess the dogs have just given up trying to defend the food stash or she has some sorry dogs. :D

Anyway, she asked for suggestions for bird control. I'm led to believe that these are just the garden variety black birds. Either way she wants them gone or very discouraged. This is within city limits so richochet hazards and noise are definitely considerations.

So far some considerations are....

1. .22 "no powder loads". Definitely no noise, but a ricochet hazard is still there.

2. .22 snake shot. Not really noise and slight richochet hazard, but will this effectively kill a bird at 10 feet?

3. Pellet Gun. Low noise and not bad on richochets. Still..I've done a fair amount of shooting and sometimes a pellet gun won't put them down for good. The last thing she wants is a wounded bird flapping all over the neighborhood.

I personally insisted on a non lethal method such as having a bird feeder. Heck..if you can't beat em..join em right?!:D

Still..she wants em either dead or gone. Any suggestions?

Good Shooting

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May 18, 2003, 02:43 PM
I had the same problem here in SE Florida when I first moved here. My dogs just suck at defending their food I guess. I bought a dog door that fits into my sliding glass door and moved the food inside. The dogs come and go as they please now and the cool inside is better than leaving them out all day. Just one more angle to think on. I don't think shooting a couple will keep them away for long anyway. The bird feeder idea may work though. Keep them preoccupied. Oh, one more thing. I tried a covered dog food "dispenser" for a while but the dogs hated it. Maybe one would work for hers.


Sir Galahad
May 18, 2003, 03:39 PM
First, she better find out what KIND of "black birds" they are. If they're ravens, they're protected by federal law, no ifs ands or buts. If they're crows, they have a season and killing one both out of season and without a hunting license (as well as in a non-approved area for hunting) is poaching and carries a stiff fine and possible jail time. There are other "black birds" protected by the federal Migratory Bird Act and before she considers doing anything, she ought to get an Audubon Field Guide and determine species.

Second, most cites have ordinances against the firing of ANY firearm within city limits for such purposes. Makes no difference if it was a CB cap, a shot load, or a .50BMG it's all the same to the law. It says "firearm" period. Violations of these laws vary from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the state and city. Further, some cities also forbid the firing of pellet guns in city limits as well. Plus, any pellet that misses a bird and hits a neighbor's window is going to carry at least a misdemeanor vandalism charge with it even if shooting a pellet rifle is not expressly forbidden within city limits by law.

Third, wounded birds found by neighbors are going to attract the attention of animal control and/or the police who may wish to file animal cruelty charges in the neighbors wish to proceed with charges. Again, these charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies if fish and game authorites get involved and wish to press poaching charges for not having a hunting license, and illegal hunting. The police can also press disturbance of peace charges at the least. That and her name in the paper will not make for good neighbors.

To be honest, this is not the kind of notoriety the gun community needs. People firing WEAPONS in their back yards inside a city because some birds are eating their dog's food. The liberal newspapers eat that up as evidence of irresponsible gun owners and why people owning guns is dangerous to their neighbors. It also encourages poor firearms handling to think, well, I can shoot a .22 snake load, so a .22 Short must be ok too. Hmmm, that didn't work, how about a .22 Long. And to be honest, shooting birds because there is food outside that attracts them is simply too stupid to contemplate. It's not the birds' fault. If you're on a farm where you have enough land to safely shoot, well, do what you think you have to. But in a city, you cannot be shooting in your backyard. Period. As a gun owner, I don't want to be defined by someone shooting birds with a .22 in their backyard. By the way, a cop hearing the report from even a .22 or a call from neihbrs repsorting gunshots is going to call that in as "shots fired" and there could be a possible SWAT team response. And if person is still in backyard with .22 in hand when the police arrive, it could have fatal consequences.

Tell your neighbor it's a weapon, not a mousetrap.

Art Eatman
May 18, 2003, 04:21 PM
Sir Galahd's right in there with his warnings.

She definitely needs to learn if her birds are grackles or crows or cowbirds, since different "scare" methods might be considered.
Or, nothing at all might really be workable besides moving the dogs indoors for feeding...

The doggie-door is a good idea, seems to me--although if she's renting that might not be allowed by her landlord.


May 18, 2003, 04:31 PM
Definately find out about birds... I recently found that I have been committing a migratory bird faux pas for years. :uhoh:

As far as bird shot in the 22 case, it shouldn't even be called 'cardboard shot' as at 10 yards, medium weight cardboard won't be penetrated. Never shot any animal with it and I realzie soft tissue is dramatically different than cardboard, but I'll never know cause I don't think it's worth risking. Maybe for snakes. Maybe.

The CCI 22 CB Longs are pretty quiet and I wouldn't to take a hit from one. Haven't taken any game with them yet but there has been so much talk about them being quiter than the standard CBs, I got 500 of 'em. Been shooting at paper and they seem more accurate than the Colibris and definately have more of a whack to them. A bit louder than the standard Colibris but about the same as the Super Colibris. I really wouldn't want to attempt to take game with the standard Colibri. Out of a rifle shooting at 10 yards, I can see the bullet for the last 5 yards or so and I can't with my lowly air rifle with 10 pumps, granted you're not supposed to shoot them out of a rifle.

May 18, 2003, 04:46 PM
How about getting her a nice cat? Isn't that what they are for?

Sir Galahad
May 18, 2003, 04:47 PM
Some other considerations are that recent "New Years Eve" shooting-guns-in-air celebrations in some cities have resulted in even heavier fines and jail time for discharge of firearms in city limits. A few people were killed by falling bullets and city police are far less likely to just let it go with a simple citation. If New Year's Eve salute shooting is a problem in that city, the DA may be under strict orders to prosecute to the fullest anyone caught shooting a firearm inside city limits for any reason other than self-defense. The fines and jail times for it in some places is eye-opening, to say the least. In some places, "salute shooting" laws even cover pellet rifles.

To expand further on neighbors hearing even BB Caps or CB Caps, they might report it as hearing a "silenced firearm" and a call like that is really going to attract the black helmet boys. A police officer hearing it may also call it in as "shots fired, possible suppressed weapon" and they will roll the kevlar kops for that.

Note on the Migratory Bird Act. This is a law that fish and game authorities will prosecute to the max. Many passerine birds that you can see in every city are protected by the MBA. Fish and game will not accept not knowing it was protected as an explanation. The only thing that carries more penalties than the MBA as far as birds are concerned are those protected by the Endangered Species Act and raptors.

May 18, 2003, 05:43 PM
Take all the laws, and whatnot into account and figure out what the consequences could be and if they're worth it before hand as always.
That said, nuisance animals have to be dealt with from time to time.

From my experience, federal crimped .22 shotshells will blow a bird the size of a grackle to bits from 10 feet. They are also louder than your average .22LR round, they have a fairly good boom to them actually. CCI shotshells, are also loud and are much less effective. At 10 feet they would probably anchor reliably but I don't know about kill. They don't pattern well at all.

.177 pellet guns. I shoot sparrows or whatever the little brown birds are that nest in my barn all the time with a gamo 220 hunter, rated at 1000 ft/sec. The result is a large poof of feathers, and a very dead bird provided you use wadcutter or hollowpoint pellets and hit them in the center. They also ricochet quite easily if you hit a hard surface and go off to who knows where with an angry buzz. Thats with a high powered gun, they aren't quite that bad if you slow them down.
Large birds would require head shots to kill reliably though. They seem to have a knack for flying off to die somewhere else if you don't really knock them off their feet.

I'd say your best bet for shooting them with pellets would be a pneumatic air rifle with hollow point pellets. Fix up a box of newspaper as a backstop to where you plan to shoot them and pick your shots. Possibly try shooting out a window so the muzzle of the gun is in the house.

The best low noise thing I've seen for shooting birds is a paintball gun. I know it sounds like a joke but these things pack a wallop, and with the right barrel on are almost silent. No laws against them in town to my knowledge either. The velocity on the gun is adjustable, since I always play backwoods with a bunch of my hillbilly friends we just adjust the guns for the best accuracy instead of worrying about the suggested 300fps limit. I'd say that the fastest you can shoot one is 350fps or so and then they start breaking as they come out of the barrel. The balls have a plastic shell that breaks on impact, and being .68 caliber and liquid filled they're fairly heavy. Blows a sparrow to bits. I got shot in the facemask once, and the shell actually came through the vents and broke the skin on my chin. A direct hit should definitely put a bird down, if you have the gun turned up.
Cleanup is kind of a big job though.

I think I'd try an owl decoy or something first though. Maybe add a little alka seltzer to the dog's food ;)

May 18, 2003, 05:51 PM
I have heard of people putting paintballs into the freezer overnight and then shooting them. No idea how that works but it might be a bit less messy if decide to go that route.

Sir Galahad
May 18, 2003, 06:10 PM
And, again, more caveats.

Due to some people being shot with paintball guns as a joke (some joke, hardy, har, har:rolleyes: ) from passing vehicles, some cities have passed laws regarding the discharge of even these devices within city limits.

Yes, "pest control" has to be done in some places. But there are valid reasons why cities have passed laws against discharge of firearms (some laws state "discharge of weapons"; a DA could go so far as to state a paintball gun is a weapon when the paintballs are put in the freezer to harden them) in city limits. It's not about figuring out what laws are worth breaking. It's about respect for your neighbors and being a responsible gun owner. If your neighbors come out to find a dead bird you shot in their pool, or a spiderweb fracture in their window from your errant pellet or frozen paintball, they have all the right in the world to call the police and the police have every right in the world to arrest you. In my opinion, people with that kind of respect for weapons and neighbors shouldn't own them. Sorry, but a bird eating someone's dog's food does not justify discharge of projectiles in a city with neighbors next door. If it can kill a bird, it can injure a human being. And, as such, it is "slob gun owner" behavior to condone or participate in such behavior. Am I being a jerk about it? Probably. I've had pellets through windows of my vehicle from kids "playing" with their pellet guns and I have ZERO tolerance for anyone with that kind of respect for a weapon. While driving tow truck years back, my rig was struck by two falling bullets while I was out on calls on New Years Eve. It's shooting birds in the backyard that neighbors find the corpses of that creates anti-gunners and anti-hunters.

May 18, 2003, 06:41 PM
I wouldn't freeze paintballs. They clean up with a hose, and no ricochet.
I have respect for the laws, but I don't always wear my seatbelt ;)
If the woman is bound and determined to go that route, the most responsible thing to do is try to get her to do it as safely as possible. You could tell her you don't want anything to do with it, but then when she does something stupid you probably won't feel too good knowing you might have prevented it.

Double Naught Spy
May 18, 2003, 07:19 PM
So let me get this straight. The neighbor wants to kill some birds because they are eating the dog food. Is that right? What is wrong with that picture? Well, the birds don't have a group knowledge base. So long as the food is there, the birds will keep coming. Sure, he could shoot them on a regular basis and new birds would discover the easy pickings food supply with no knowledge of their buddies being killed off at the very spot. In short, killing the birds is addressing the symptom, but not the problem. The problem is with the neighbor putting food out, not with the birds who are simply doing what they do naturally, find food.

Sir Galahad has a good grip on things. Most common black birds are going to fall into the migratory bird act/laws that protect most natural species. There are a few exceptions and primarily of introduced varieties such as rock doves (the common city chicken), starlings, and European house sparrows.

If the problem is that the birds are eating the dog food, the neighbor needs to either feed the dogs at a set time when they are hungry and then put up left over food, or figure out a way to protect the food from the birds when the dogs are not eating it that doesn't involve killing the birds.

Given the presence of particular and recently noteworthy zoonotic diseases such as West Nile carried by birds, does your neighbor really want to be killing birds in his yard? The actual open wounds may provide direct exposure to the virus that is not wanted. More over, various types of pests inhabiting the birds, such as ticks, fleas, etc., will quickly leave the bird after the bird is dead when their meal ticket runs out. That means if you kill a bird with West Nile in your yard the parasites will depart the bird and be in search of a new host, like people.

So, killing the birds may not only be unlawful, but actually pose a very real health risk.

The best course of action is to contact the local animal control folks for lawful and safe ways to either remove, scare off, or do away with the offending birds.

Sir Galahad
May 18, 2003, 07:56 PM
Redneck, the way I feel good about it is telling people not to discharge weapons in their backyard period. That way if they do it and get caught, I say, "Yep, I told you so, didn't I?" :D

DNS has brought up a very good point about West Nile virus. If the bird killed in the yard is indeed a vector at its death, touching it can certainly transfer the disease. Not a whole lot is known about how this disease spreads outside of direct exposure to the blood. But, hmmm, bird bleeding from wound, homeowner picks up bird, birds blood gets into open cut on hand. Not to mention the birds that fly off wounded and die in the neighbor's yard.

The reason I don't advocate lesser means such as a paintball gun so that people don't use a .22 is because the neighbors are not going to see it that way. They are going to see one more reason why gun owners are dangerous or bloodthirsty goons. "Can you believe that?! He shot a robin because it ate his dog's food! That just goes to show you how those gun nuts think. They shoot everything that moves. People shouldn't be allowed to own guns or even paintball whatever it was. I bet he was using a gun and we just didn't know it." I also don't advocate people go around things like game laws. I pay my hunting license fees. I am certainly not going to help someone shoot what might be a protected animal or a game animal shot by an unlicensed person. I have no tolerance for poachers regardless of their reasons.

May 18, 2003, 08:26 PM
Starling 'hunting' is my favorite messy task. .22 birdshot kills nicley at close ranges (30 feet) but pattern it! My remingtom pump is the only thing that actually shoots it ok. Birdshot doesn't go through pole barn tin or spouting. It's expensive. Wear safety glassed too.

Outside--Shotgun:D Shoot 'em on the wing, destroy thier nests, kill em all! Cause they make messes all over everything.

Our surviving starlings are EXTREMELY (frighteningly) intelligent, to the point of teaming up to provide distraction and doing cautionary flybys. They can see better than you can too, and know the difference between a broomstick and gun barrel very well. They KNOW when you have a gun in your hand. If you don't they ignore you. :uhoh: :scrutiny:

May 18, 2003, 08:51 PM
To those of you reporting success with the 22LR shot shells, are the Federal crimped shells that much better than the CCIs with the blue plastic out front? Those are the only ones I've ever used and I was extremely disappointed in the performance.


May 18, 2003, 09:08 PM
I see what your saying Sir Galahad,
But personally, theres a lot of things I wouldn't get to do if I worried about all the possible political aspects involved and what group people might put me into. Like I said before, I would try an owl decoy or do like you guys said and come up with another way of feeding the dogs before I went to shooting. No matter what you do, there's someone somewhere who doesn't like it.

CCI loads shotshells with lighter shot than federal. Federal is loaded with No.10 pellets I believe, and the crimped brass (pretty sure its just a .22mag case, about that length anyway) seems to pattern a little tighter. The federals I tried patterned tight enough to reliably hit a bird out to about 30-35 feet out of an old remington fieldmaster. They hit hard too, I opted not to use them inside my pole barn because of what they did to a peice of scrap siding at 40 ft.

May 25, 2003, 10:50 AM
One cheap thing you can try. Get a big rubber snake and put it near the dogs' food bowl. You'll need to move it from time to time, but my grandmother used one for years to keep the birds away from her little garden. The birds never got brave enough to find out that the snake was a fake.

This assumes the dogs won't use it for a chew toy, though.

Art Eatman
May 25, 2003, 04:01 PM
Dissolve some powdered cayenne pepper in hot water, and paint the snake. The dogs will possibly regard it as a "chewie" for but a very brief moment. Jalapeno juice works well, also.

:D, Art

May 28, 2003, 04:23 PM
(Providing all is legal in your area)

I've found that an effective way to deal with starlings is to employ a wooden rat trap (like a mouse trap on steroids). It should be mounted to a small plank with wood screws - bait treddle down. Another bit of planking should be used to provide a perch. The idea should be that the birds head, when standing on the perch should roughly be even with the bait treddle. Mount in tree or on side of building where dogs&cats won't get tangled up. Bait - and start piling 'em up.

May 29, 2003, 08:45 PM
i agree with the post on getting a cat.go to the humane society and get the biggest tom you can find.preferably one that hasnt been plastic owl might work but then it may draw crows.

Hot brass
June 2, 2003, 05:46 AM
You can`t and its not worth it to get caught shooting a gun in the city. I have a dog and don`t worry about the birds getting his food. I put the food in a dog feeder. Metal box that holds 20lbs or more of dog food. I check the feeder weekly. It has a door like the doggie doors dor the house. The birds will not be able to push the door open. Shoot one bird and another one comes by. A never ending story. a good pet store will carry the feeders.

June 12, 2003, 03:54 AM
This is a bad pic of what I'm talkin' about - using the rat trap. This one was mounted in a tree, and was quite effective.

June 12, 2003, 12:45 PM
Thats a pretty slick idea! I might have to try a few in the rafters of my barn.

Master Blaster
June 13, 2003, 02:20 PM
I have had dogs my whole life, they get fed once a day as adults , twice as puppies. Works fine, no bird problem,or contaminated food that makes a sick dog, and they know when dinner time is.

Leaving food out attracts, birds, also attracts rats mice and other pests, who then move in and cause problems as well.


June 13, 2003, 03:12 PM
I have a dog door. Immediately inside it the dogs get fed. Last summer (without me knowing) a pernicious rat or two started sneaking in the dog door to get the dog food and then stockpile it in a crowded corner of the room...

The little lady had just closed the dogdoor one night and and turned to see a large rat on top of the bar sniffing its little wiskers at her. She ran and slammed the door...

I arrive home a little later to be greeted by her in the driveway. She recommended I do something....:)

Out come the safety glasses and the pellet gun. About 5 or ten shots later I was successful in eliminating the little bastage.

Moral of the story: dog doors do have their drawbacks....

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