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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.


Filtering by Tag: pest control

Cute Birds Can Become Troublesome House Pests

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you see lots of sparrows around your house this winter, you might want to pay close attention. Sure, these cute little birds might seem harmless, but the truth is that they can be a real pain if they decide to make your home their home.

House sparrows depend on humans for food and nesting, which is why you may notice that they aren’t afraid to get awfully close when you’re enjoying a sandwich on a park bench. They originally came to the US from England in the 1850’s, when eight pairs were brought to Brooklyn to control a growing moth larvae problem. The little birds quickly decided that they liked their new home, and their population grew to the point where they are now one of the most popular urban birds in the United States. And guess what? They don’t eat moth larvae after all.

According to the North American Bluebird Society, the breeding season for house sparrows can start from midwinter and each pair of sparrows may produce up to four broods a season. Of course, before sparrows can breed, they have to build a home. The male house sparrow’s bond with his nest site is stronger than his bond with a mate. So once he finds some prime real estate, you’re going to have a hard time serving him with an eviction notice.

The reason contractors like me aren’t the biggest fans of sparrows is because they love building their nests in tiny, warm and well-insulated places such as people’s roofs. They construct these nests using grass, straw, feathers, weeds, string, trash and other highly flammable materials and aren’t afraid to get comfortable right on a heat source, such as the light fixtures on the outside of your home. They are also partial to house spots that offer a bit of shelter, such as gutters and downspouts which can easily get clogged and cause roof leaks. So you can see why these cute little birds can cause a real headache if they decide to take up residence with you.

So what can you do to prevent sparrows from cozying up to your home? Believe it or not, a sparrow can fit into a hole smaller than one inch. Do an inspection around the eaves of your home to look for holes that could make a proper shelter. If you find some, you might want to consider installing mesh to keep the sparrows out. Also consider installing stainless steel spikes to light fixtures, outdoor speakers or deep door molding. Place covers over vents and check the screening over louvers before birds find their way inside. Keep garage doors and sheds closed to prevent birds from entering, and avoid putting out roost boxes too early as sparrows are generally the first birds out of the gates. Finally, consider removing brush piles, shrubbery or other natural shelter to reduce the amount of nesting material available.

Have you encountered a house sparrow problem in your home? What are your top tips to remedy the situation? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email or message me on Facebook at

Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.


Don't Let Winter Be a Time for Rodent Infestation

Chelsea O'Donnell

I recently received a question from a reader that I thought I’d share with all of you. She asked, “When the colder weather sets in, I sometimes get mice or rats in my house. I assume they are looking for a warm place to settle in and find food, but they aren’t welcome here! How can I deter them this year?”

My reader is right - her rodent problem absolutely has to do with the little buggers looking for a nice warm place to hide out from the winter weather and to grab a meal while they’re at it. Here are a few simple tips to reduce the chances of them making a home in yours.

Firstly, seal off the premises. Make sure doors and screens are always closed tight, and look for breaks, rips or holes that lead outside Generally caulk is a good sealant, but weather stripping around windows and installing new door sweeps on doors will keep insects and small animals out and will do double duty by helping to insulate your home for winter.

For bigger areas such as the chimney, you can use a thick wire mesh to keep the critters out, just make sure the material is thick enough that it can’t be chewed through. Believe it or not, a mouse can get through a hole the size of a dime, so be diligent in your search for entry points.

Another tip is to make sure you don’t leave any food lying around. Mice and rats are pretty resilient to the cold, but they have to eat to survive and looking for a meal in your house is a lot easier than trying to find one outside in the cold. Many pet owners leave animal food out for long periods of time, which makes a delicious meal for a rodent. If a mouse can get into your house, the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to stay. Keep that food, pet or otherwise, sealed up tight.

If you have a garden that thrives through the autumn, that’s most likely where your rodents are coming from. They are smart, and they’ll be waiting to dart through your door at a moment’s notice. As a general rule of thumb, keep edible plants at least a few feet from any door, and the same goes for your garbage bins.

If your home is susceptible to rodents and you’ve tried to get rid of them with no luck, you might want to consider having the problem dealt with by a pest control professional. There are plenty of traps, sprays, and natural solutions on the market, but using the wrong deterrent might drive pests up into the walls where they can start chewing on wires and causing longer term, more expensive damage.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.