Bird Control: Spotlight on Geese
August 15, 2013
Grounds managers need to understand the threats birds pose and the available control options to be able to design effective bird control systems.
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.
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.