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Birds Causing Problems for Facilities


By Dan Hounsell Design & Construction
Blue bird, Ultramarine Flycatcher (superciliaris ficedula) fully standing with detail from head to toes, exotic nature

Birds can present a major pest management challenge for facility and grounds managers with institutional and commercial buildings. Their presence can cause nuisance problems for building occupants and visitors, and their droppings that end up around or in HVAC components can create health problems.

Problems related to birds and facilities go beyond these issues, though. The mere presence of buildings can put the health of birds in jeopardy. Consider the case of Philadelphia.

Collisions with buildings, both high and low, are a leading cause of bird deaths in the city. Keith Russell, a Philadelphia-based ornithologist with Audubon Pennsylvania, has studied the problem in Philadelphia and beyond, according to BillyPenn.com. The problem is not that birds can’t see glass, Russell says. The problem is that they don’t know what it is.

From 2008 to 2011, Russell participated in a study that monitored bird strikes in the city, focusing on a 3.5-square-block area.

“We estimated that a thousand birds a year were colliding with buildings in that one study area,” he says. Around 75 different species were represented among the dead or injured birds found during that study, a diversity that surprised even Russell.

They found the bodies of a wild turkey, a saw-whet owl — the smallest owl on the East Coast — a yellow-throated warbler, and a yellow rail that had flown down a stairwell and into a glass door at a large building.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.

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