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Techniques for Establishing Effective Bird Control Systems

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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 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.

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 systems.

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 structures.

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 restricted-use product.

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.

Related Article:
When Pests Attack