Rooks are large, black birds that can be found all over the world. They typically live in large colonies, known as rookeries. While rooks are beautiful creatures, their habit of building nests in close proximity to homes and businesses can be a nuisance. Has your roof or your garden been taken over by a rookery? Do you have nests in your trees and droppings all over your lawn? This can be a real pain and it can also be dangerous if the birds start to cause damage. If you’re having trouble getting rid of a rookery, here are four tips that should help.
What is a Rookery?
The rook is a large, black bird that is found in the open countryside across Europe, Asia and North America. It is a member of the crow family and is closely related to the carrion crow and the hooded crow. Rooks are gregarious birds and live in large flocks known as “rooks” or “rookeries”. They build their nests in trees and use sticks and twigs to construct a large, rounded structure. Rooks are omnivorous birds, and their diet includes insects, earthworms, small mammals and reptiles. They will also eat fruit and seeds and will frequently raid crops such as wheat and corn.
Fun Fact: Rooks have been known to use tools to obtain food. They are also excellent mimics and can imitate the calls of other birds.
Are You Allowed to Remove a Rookery?
In the UK, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, all wild bird nests are protected while they are in use or being built. It is illegal to damage or destroy an active nest or prevent birds from accessing their nests. Rooks are included in this protection.
How To Get Rid of a Rookery?
Rooks are intelligent and sociable birds, forming large colonies, or rookeries, in trees close to various food sources. Because of this, safely removing a rookery can be difficult. However, there are a few things that you can do to help get rid of a rookery.
1 – Remove Food Sources
The best way to deal with a rookery is to remove the things that are attracting the birds in the first place. First, take a look at where the rookery is located. Is it near any sources of food or water? If so, this may be what is attracting them. Rooks are attracted to areas where there is an abundance of food, so removing any potential sources of food can help discourage them from roosting. One potential food source is the scraps found in rubbish bins. Make sure to keep your bins tightly sealed and empty them regularly.
Another potential food source is pet food. If you have pets, keep their food bowls indoors or in a covered area.
2 – Scare them Away
One way to get rid of a rookery is to scare the birds away. This can be done by making loud noises, using bright lights, firecrackers, or bird scarers. This will cause them to flee the area in a panic, leaving their nests behind. While scaring rooks may temporarily dislodge the birds, they will likely return if the conditions that led to the formation of the rookery are not addressed. The same way tactics for scaring blackbirds will work for rooks too.
Note: You are NOT ALLOWED to interfere with trees or nests during the nesting season. Any trimming back of trees must be done between late Autumn and Spring.
3 – Close Off Cavities (Autumn to Spring)
Rooks will often build their nests in sheltered areas around homes, such as cavities in the roof or spaces under the eaves. One way to stop them is to close off the access to any cavities in the roof or other accessible areas. This will make it difficult for birds to build their nests and make it easier for you to remove them if they do manage to get in. You can also clean up and block access spaces under the eaves or other potential nesting areas to prevent birds from taking up residence there.
Note: Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, you won’t be allowed to do this until after they have left in the Autumn.
4 – Trim Back Any Trees (Autumn to Spring)
A good way to prevent rooks from nesting on your property is to trim back any trees or bushes that provide shelter for them. By doing this, you will make it more difficult for the birds to find a suitable spot to build their nest. In addition, you will also be able to more easily spot any nests that the birds build, which will give you the opportunity to remove them before they become too well-established. In some cases, you may also need to put up physical barriers, such as netting or wire fencing, to deter the birds from accessing certain areas of your property.
If you are trying to get rid of a rookery, there are several things that you can do. One of the most important is to remove what is attracting the birds in the first place, such as food sources or shelter. You can also trim back any trees or other areas that provide cover for the rookeries and close off cavities in the roof or other accessible spaces. To really discourage the birds from nesting, you may also need to use scare tactics, such as loud noises and bright lights. However, it is important to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to the formation of the rookery, since these methods are only temporary solutions. Overall, if you are patient and persistent, you should be able to get rid of a rookery and restore peace and quiet to your property.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Getting rid of a rookery may be difficult, but it is possible with some patience and perseverance!”
“If you have a river or lake nearby, make sure there are no edible materials around that can attract the birds!”
“In addition to being loud, firecrackers can also be very dangerous, so be sure to use them with caution!”
“If you have a rookery on your property, it’s important to take steps to remove any food sources that may be attracting the birds!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are rooks so noisy?
Rooks are classified as a corvid, which is a family of birds that includes crows, ravens, magpies and jays. Corvids are known for their intelligence and vocal abilities.
Rooks are social birds, and they live in colonies. They use their vocalizations to communicate with one another. Their calls can be quite loud and annoying to some people, but to rooks, these calls are an important way to keep in touch with their colony mates.
Are rookeries protected?
No, rookeries are not protected. In fact, they are often destroyed in order to protect the property of the people living near them. Rooks are considered pests because of the damage they can do to crops and other structures.
Can you shoot a rookery?
In some rural areas of England, rooks can be shot to protect crops after other means of control, such as scaring them away with pyrotechnics or harassment using birds of prey, have failed. There is a licensing system in place for shooting rooks and other pest bird species. However, it is important to note that such an act would be illegal in most cases and could result in severe penalties.
Is it legal to move a rookery?
In the UK, it is illegal to intentionally move or disturb a rookery due to the protections afforded to all wild birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Rooks, their nests, and their eggs are protected by law, which makes it an offence to:
- Intentionally kill, injure, or take wild birds.
- Intentionally take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
- Intentionally take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.
Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.