Birds, Buildings, and Solutions
by Dave Kogan
What do buildings, houses, parks, hotels, restaurants, airports, golf courses, all have in common? They are all major targets for pest birds. Face it, they’re everywhere. And you cannot avoid them. Even when cities and town post signs that explicitly say “DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS,” people still sit there and feed the birds. Why? Are they pretty? Sure. People love birds and there are so many of them in so many different colors that they’re hard not to like…except when they leave a foul mess in your building, or hang around when dining alfresco, or when they take over a window ledge so you cannot open your window for fear that they’ll fly inside and take up residence. What then can you do about pest birds?
Well, many people love birds until, well, they don’t. That is when the birds make a terrible mess and ruin your property that one stops liking those adorable yet messy abominations. How un-adorable are they? Take for example the Butler County Courthouse in Hamilton, Ohio. Birds were roosting on ledges all over the building leaving quite an unsightly mess. The problem came crashing to reality when a cornice on the structure began pulling away from the building in 1988. A maintenance crew removed the cornice to find over 300 pounds of bird feces. “Conditions were deplorable,” said the purchasing director of Butler County. “Bird droppings were a foot thick on some ledges.”
The mess generated questions in regards to public health and was a public relations nightmare for the county. A few of the courthouse employees were diagnosed with Histoplasmosis, a bacterial infection caused by a fungus found in bird droppings. The county installed some bird preventative measures at a cost of nearly $100,000. Then the building was refurbished in 1997 and the architects found Bird-X’s 100% recycled polycarbonate plastic, nearly invisible spikes which now cover 11,000 linear feet of ledges, porticos and round windows for the 4-story building…and there have been no more birds or their feces since.
That’s just one scenario. In Davenport, Iowa, pigeons were bombing a local branch and sidewalks surrounding a US Bank with their nasty droppings. The bank was spending thousands of dollars every week power washing the exterior walls and sidewalks. The bank manager went on line, completed a search for getting rid of pigeons and found Bird-X. They decided on using an electronic sonic bird deterrent. Now there are no birds leaving their droppings or even roosting or nesting by or on the bank.
So what can you do as a homeowner, business owner or unfortunately, a resident in Magna who are under attack from barn swallows? Wildlife control experts will tell you to move the nests or trap the birds and release them elsewhere. To make matters even more challenging, there are often restrictions on conventional control methods. Harming the birds is often a problem. Facility managers are often reluctant to kill birds due to sensitive public relations and image concerns (we’re still reading about the 2,000 geese being culled in New York near JFK airport a week later). Other options which do not kill, but are still visible to the public, such as traps or possibly glue boards, may not be permissible.
Yet there are ways to get rid of the birds without harming them. A sound deterrent works great inside or outside. This, of course depends on the area you’re seeking to protect. For instance, patrons at an outdoor eatery may not want to hear the distress cries or predator calls of birds every hour or more. So how does a restaurant combat birds? There are ultrasonic sound devices. That means that the sounds are played above that of human hearing. Patrons can eat in peace with the noise of birds or the mess.
If the bird problem is on or inside a building, like with the restaurant, facility managers can try sound deterrents that will readily disperse the birds. However, many will tell you that the best defense for any building ledge, roof or outcropping would be to use plastic or stainless steel spikes. Or a special bird proof gel or spray that includes methyl anthranilate which comes from the skin of concord grapes.
The spikes, sprays and gels would work well for residents in Magna, Utah as well as everyone else. Those residents might also benefit from sonic bird repellent machines to scare off their swallows. Building owners may also want to try bird netting to block entry to a specific area or visual scare deterrents like scare balloons, prowler owls or three dimensional coyotes to scare off birds before they even get close enough to find an area desirable.
The main thing is to make an area inhospitable to birds. While birds might become accustomed to one approach, combining two or more to work in tandem (for instance using a sonic device and polycarbonate spikes) will greatly increase your success rate. With so much easy to use technology developing in the realm of bird control, every situation has a solution just waiting to be found. And clearing a bird infestation can make a huge difference in terms of economics, morale, and most importantly, public safety. If the choices seem to be overwhelming or you don’t know where to start, there are always bird control experts who are happy to help.
For more information about bird control and bird control products, contact Bird-X at 800.662.5021 or visit the website at www.bird-x.com.