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12/2/2008 12:00:00 AM
Compiled by FacilitiesNet Staff
Grounds managers need to understand the threats birds pose and the
available control options to be able to design effective bird control
Besides making a mess of building facades, birds can contribute to the
spread of disease, such as histoplasmosis. The fungal disease exists in
soil and bird droppings. Humans can contract it by touching bird
droppings or infected soil, and it can be airborne.
To control bird populations, occupants and visitors can help reduce
attractiveness of facilities and grounds to roosting birds. Their
involvement helps managers develop the most effective bird control
First, everyone in the area should be discouraged from feeding birds.
Second, managers can use exclusion techniques to keep birds under
control and out of the area. Doors should remain closed, and windows
should have screens. Warehouses and large commercial buildings, such as
retail stores and airports, commonly have bird populations established
inside, which originated when doors were left open.
Third, managers should encourage building occupants to report sightings
of unwanted birds immediately before the population becomes established.
Managers have many techniques at their disposal to discourage birds
from roosting and establishing habitats. Most of these techniques are
physical and might require the use of specialized aerial equipment.
Devices for Bird Control Systems
Managers can use wires and spikes designed exclusively for bird
control. Workers place these products at strategic locations on roofs,
ledges and balconies to prevent birds from roosting or resting on these
The devices vary in design, but they all have the same concept — wires,
spikes and other physical barriers are uncomfortable for birds. Some of
these devices are electrified with low voltages, which do not harm the
bird but acts as an electric fence to keep the birds out of the area.
Some paste-type products repel birds, in that they would roost in an
uncomfortable mass of material. Managers can use these products with
physical barriers or as stand-alone applications, and they might
consider using them inside buildings.
Managers have used scaring devices — horns, shot whistles, balloons,
and plastic figurines of predator birds, with limited success. Managers
also have used nets in open areas, such as near pavilions, covered
exterior picnic areas and pools. The goal of the netting is to exclude
birds without disrupting the scenery. The design of the architecture
often is the deciding factor in deciding whether to use these specific
bird control systems.
Managers dealing only with pigeons in protected areas can consider
using bird food containing an active ingredient that causes birds to
suffer temporary indigestion and give warning signals to other birds.
But only a licensed pest-control company should apply this
Focus on Geese
The Canada goose can be very destructive and messy. It is estimated
geese can eat up to 5 pounds of turf per day and produce up to 1.5
pounds of droppings. Large, continually grazing populations also can
compact turf areas and compromise water supplies.
To establish effective bird control systems for geese, a good first
step is restoring the native perennial flowers around the ponds, as
well as in lawns areas that don’t need to be turf.
“When we establish native plant material within our landscapes, geese
avoid these areas and opt to populate landscapes dominated by turf
grass,” says Jack Pizzo, founder of Pizzo & Associates Ltd.
Ecological Restoration in Leland, Ill.
Cost is always a factor, Pizzo says. The cost to establish wildflowers
is usually lower than the alternative. Where barrier plantings are not
an option, Pizzo offers these tactics to reduce geese populations.
• Reduce food sources.
• Decrease the size of lawn areas surrounding water.
• Curtail fertilizer use. Geese prefer lush, succulent, tender grass.
• Reduce or eliminate mowing around the edges of water. In taller
grass, geese cannot easily find new, delectable shoots. Taller grass
also acts as a barrier to block their line of sight from the water,
their main mode of protection from predators.