Size: Varies depending on species; usually 1/8-inch or
smaller in size.
Color: Depending on the species, the color varies from
tan to brown to creamy white
A number of species of lice infest various types of birds. The
picture represented here is only one species.
On farms, lice that infect poultry are known to sometimes become a
problem in barns, and they can bite humans who work with the birds.
More commonly in homes and commercial buildings, lice that infest
pest birds, such as pigeons and sparrows, may find their way into
living spaces of homes. Although such lice are incapable of living
off a human host, they have reportedly bitten people in a few, rare
Usually, one or more specimens are discovered on a windowsill, on
the floor, or possibly on a desk or table where they have exited the
ceiling or wall and have dropped to die. Generally, such cases
result from birds nesting in the attic, walls or on the outside edge
of the building roof. Lice typically leave the bird’s nest and
wander after the host birds have left. Occasionally, however, bird
activity within a commercial building (e.g., a church bell tower)
that has been allowed to persist can create an infestation of lice
and other bird ecto-parasites to the point that some begin to wander
in search of new hosts.
Habitat – Like all lice, bird lice must remain
on or very close to their hosts to survive. As a result, they can be
found in association with bird nests located on or within a
Tips for Control – Lice may be discovered in a
building when they have wandering in search of a host. This
situation is best handled by an experienced professional. Correct
identification by an entomologist of the louse involved is key in
determining the source of the lice. To control bird lice, the bird
activity inside or on the building must be eliminated or prevented
and all nest materials removed. Areas where nests are located often
require treatment to eliminate any wandering lice. Additionally,
wall voids and other voids may need to be drilled and treated,
depending on the situation.
Regardless of the situation, any louse that is found should be
examined and identified by an entomologist to determine its type
and, thus, its origin.