Pest bird control and the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program in Ontario

Since 1977, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) has coordinated the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program to re-establish this threatened bird of prey in Ontario. been carefully managed, and are now showing positive signs of recovery. The recovery program involves the monitoring, management and protection of Peregrine Falcon nesting sites and territories in natural cliff areas and on buildings in several urban centres in Ontario, including Bowmanville, Bramption, Burlington, Haileybury, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Mississauga, Nanticoke, New Liskeard, Niagara Falls, Nipigon, Ottawa, Port Colborne, Red Rock, St. Catharines, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, the Greater Toronto Area, and Windsor.

A major concern of OMNR is the potential for secondary poisoning of these birds when either 4-amino-pyridine (Avitrol) or strychnine is used in the control of pigeons&nsp;- a favourite prey of the Peregrine Falcon&nsp;- and other pest birds such as European Starlings and House Sparrows. Pesticides containing 4-amino-pyridine (Avitrol) or strychnine must not be exposed in any manner that may endanger desirable and protected bird species such as the Peregrine Falcon. A bird that is affected by one of these pesticides may be an attractive and easy target for a Peregrine Falcon. Peregrines may feed the digestive organs of a captured pigeon to their young or even consume the organs themselves. If a corn kernel, impregnated with 4-amino-pyridine or strychnine, has not been fully digested by the bird prior to its capture by the falcon there is a high potential for secondary poisoning, which may cause either direct mortality or flight impairment causing collision-related mortality.

The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is responsible for administering the Pesticides Act and O. Reg. 63/09.

Note. Section 66 of O. Reg. 63/09 requires an exterminator who uses a pesticide containing 4-amino-pyridine or strychnine in a structural extermination to do the following:

  1. place the pesticide so that it is inaccessible to humans and to animals that are not targeted by the extermination;
  2. use the pesticide so that it is unlikely to come into contact with food or drink intended for consumption by humans or animals;
  3. prepare a record, during the extermination, of each location where the pesticide is placed;
  4. dispose of any exterminated animals on a daily basis in a manner that will prevent contact with humans or other animals; and
  5. when the extermination is complete, remove the pesticide from every location where it was placed.

The continued recovery of this bird of prey is important to all of us. Your cooperation is requested in using alternatives to pesticides for pest bird control such as exclusion methods or trapping discussed in this memorandum. The local OMNR office and community organizations involved in Peregrine Falcon partnerships can be contacted to seek assistance and/or advice on alternative bird control measures.

The Ontario Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program is an important part of a national recovery program, coordinated with the Canadian Wildlife Service and other provincial governments. In an effort to protect these threatened birds of prey and their young, use only non-pesticide bird control methods within a 7.5 km radius of the identified intersections listed in the following table.

Table of local OMNR offices and community organizations involved in Peregrine Falcon partnerships
CityMajor Roadway IntersectionOMNR contact – nameOMNR contact – telephone #
BowmanvilleWaverly Rd & Hwy 401Mark Heaton905-713-7406
BramptonHurontario St & County Court BlvdMark Heaton905-713-7406
BurlingtonBurlington Skyway Bridge/QEW (Beach Blvd) & Hamilton Harbour outflowAnne Yagi905-562-1196
HaileyburyHwy 558 at Hwy 11BRebecca Geauvreau705-475-5502
HamiltonKing St West & Bay StAnne Yagi905-562-1196
KingstonPrincess St & Division StTodd Norris613-531-5728
LondonWithin the city limitsCatherine Jong519-773-4736
  • Southdown Rd & Lakeshore Rd West
  • Hurontario St & Burnhamthorpe Rd
Mark Heaton905-713-7406
NanticokeOPG Plant, 34 Haldimand Road 55 SouthAnne Yagi905-562-1196
New LiskeardHwy 11 at north end of 11BChuck Mccrudden705-475-5522
Niagara FallsMurray Hill & the Niagara Pkwy (River Road)Anne Yagi905-562-1196
NipigonRailway St & McKirdy AveLisa Nyman807-887-5111
  • Kent St & Queen St
  • Heron Rd and Bronson Ave
Marie-Ange Gravel613-258-8418
Port ColborneSugarloaf St & West StAnne Yagi905-562-1196
Red RockBaker Rd & White BlvdLisa Nyman807-887-5111
St. CatharinesKing St & Queen StAnne Yagi905-562-1196
Sault Ste. MarieInternational Bridge at Canada-U.S. borderNathan Hanes705-941-5139
  • Edward St & Smelter Rd
  • Frood Rd & Turner Ave
  • End of Richard Lake Drive & Hwy 69: Daisy Lake
  • Regional Rd 24 & John Street&nsp;- (Creighton) Lively
Eric Cobb705-564-7868
Thunder BayJames St South & City RdNatasha Carr807-475-1133
  • King St & Victoria St
  • Queen St & York St
  • Bloor St & Islington Ave (Etobicoke)
  • Hwy 401 and Markham Rd (Scarborough)
  • Bay St and Bloor St
  • Humber College Blvd & Hwy 27 (Etobicoke)
  • Burnhamthorpe Rd & Mill Rd (Etobicoke)
  • Yonge St and Eglinton Ave
  • Don Mills Rd & York Mills Rd
Mark Heaton905-713-7406
WindsorCollege Ave and Huron Church LineCatherine Jong519-773-4736

This memorandum is in effect both throughout the breeding season and the rest of the year while the adult birds remain in the vicinity. Although some urban-nesting birds migrate, many pairs now remain in the nesting territory year-round. Pesticide bird control measures should not be undertaken as long as the Peregrines remain in the nesting territory.

For information regarding Peregrine Falcon activities at specific sites, contact the local MNR area biologist listed in the above table.

For information on the provincial Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program, please contact Chris Risley, Species at Risk Branch, Peterborough, at 705-755-1838 or Jennifer Chikoski, Species at Risk Biologist, Thunder Bay at 807-475-1133.

For pesticide and regulatory information, please contact your Regional Pesticides Specialist, MOE.

Alternative Control of Birds

Exclusion Methods

Include habitat modification by reducing the pest bird’s access to food, water and roosting/loafing areas and by keeping out pest birds using custom-designed sheet metal or plastic covers on ledges, sills, overhangs etc. Other exclusion tools include: netting, porcupine coil, spider wire, wire, electrified wires, eye balloons and sticky repellents.

The advantages of these methods are that the birds are not killed and their control is comparatively long-lasting.


Is especially effective against pigeons, however, trapping requires pre-baiting and luring pigeons to the chosen feeding bait site. Where a group of birds are roosting or feeding in a confined and isolated area, trapping should be considered the primary control tactic. The best time to trap pigeons is in the winter when their food is at a minimum. Use large walk-in traps that are one to two metres high and designed to be disassembled and moved.

Larger traps can also be constructed using metal, plastic or wood framing and attaching chicken wire or netting to the framework. The door or entrance through which pigeons are lured into the trap is the principle feature and should be constructed and operated so that it will easily entrap the pigeons without frightening them away. A one-way door or “bob” is often used.

Set traps in inconspicuous places where pigeons commonly roost or feed and where traps are not likely to be vandalized (a major risk in trapping programs). Trap placement is important, and feeding areas are the best trap sites, but are rarely on the same property as the roosting sites. Roof tops that have water from cooling towers or air conditioning units are often good trapping sites in summer.

The most difficult part of trapping is motivating birds to feed in a non-feeding area so that they will follow the bait into the trap. Whole corn or sorghum are generally the best baits but wheat, milo, oat groats, millet, popcorn, sunflower seeds, peas, greens, bread, or peanuts can be very effective if the birds are feeding on similar food. No toxic bait is used. Once a few birds have been trapped, putting different foods in with the birds can determine which bait they prefer.

In the first few weeks of a program, scatter small quantities of bait throughout the area to start the birds feeding and determine the best trap sites. Some specialists leave traps propped open for the first few days to allow the birds to get used to the trap. When the birds are calmly entering the trap, the trap can then be set. Place bait and water (a "chick font" is ideal) inside the trap and just a handful or so of bait outside the trap.

Ensure trapped birds are treated humanely. Provide shade, water, and food and remove birds on a regular basis. Leave one or two live "decoy" birds in the trap to draw in other birds. Since pigeons can fly great distances and find their way home, trap and release is not normally effective. Trapped birds can be humanely destroyed. A holder of a Structural exterminator licence can use strychnine-impregnated corn and feed it to the trapped pigeons. Consult local municipal by-laws for proper disposal of the dead birds.