While birds may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “pest,” pest birds can quickly become a nuisance once they’ve turned your business into their next roosting and nesting site. Birds are intelligent and can adapt to their surroundings, therefore making it extremely important to have an effective bird control plan in place.
Pest birds cannot only discourage potential customers, but they can cause damage to the structure and aesthetics of your facility and put the health of employees and customers at risk. Bird droppings can cause costly damage to the exterior of buildings, clog drains and damage machinery. In addition to causing respiratory problems from shed feathers, birds and the ectoparasites they carry can transmit many pathogens and diseases to people and animals.
To avoid these problems, look out for common pest birds and talk to your pest control provider to create a proactive bird control program that can help prevent birds from settling down in your facility.
Common pest birds
Bird behaviour varies depending on the type of bird that is present on your property. Before you take any action to remove pest birds from your facility, it is important to identify which type of bird you are dealing with to determine the most effective course of action. A few common pest birds include:
- Pigeons and sparrows: These bothersome birds are not picky eaters and can make almost any location into their home. House sparrows can be aggressive and are known to destroy the eggs of competing species while threatening or attacking the adults. While less aggressive, pigeons can be a nuisance and will scavenge any food they can find. Both pigeons and sparrows can transmit dangerous diseases, including chlamydiosis, toxoplasmosis, and tapeworms.
- Starlings: Starlings primarily feast on livestock feed and can contaminate entire batches of food. They are known to transmit fleas and diseases to humans, pets and livestock and can break branches and disfigure trees, damaging your landscaping. These songbirds cause lots of noise pollution as they mimic noises from other birds and their surrounding environment.
- Canadian Geese: Geese are territorial and aggressive, which can put people and animals in danger of a potential attack. They damage to agricultural properties by consuming crops and overgrazing on lawns. Additionally, geese return to the same site every mating season, so it is important to take immediate action to avoid repeat problems.
Levels of attachment
A bird infestation does not happen overnight, it is a gradual process therefore, it is important to prevent birds from claiming your property as their own before they get a chance to settle down. Here are four stages of bird attachment that can be displayed on your property:
- Socializing: Birds gather to rest and communicate. At this stage, pest birds can be repelled or relocated with relative ease as they have not made the property their permanent residence.
- Feeding: Birds use your property as feeding ground once they have located food and water. While eliminating all traces of food and water around your facility is nearly impossible, it is important to remove as many potential visible food attractors as possible to curb the appetite of pest birds.
- Roosting: Birds find shelter and start spending the night. At this stage, it becomes more difficult to correct bird problems. Roosting birds require a more in-depth removal procedure and cannot be discouraged with minor repellents.
- Nesting: Your property becomes birds’ permanent home and they begin reproducing. Once birds enter into the nesting phase, they become extremely difficult to remove or relocate. Nests must be removed or destroyed, and exclusion is necessary to keep the birds from returning.
Once birds begin to roost and nest on your property, they can be difficult to get rid of. Birds are intelligent and can adapt to their surroundings, so it is important to have an effective bird control plan in place. Your pest management provider can assess your property to create an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) solution that uses habitat modification principles, including:
- Spikes along roofs eliminate prime perching spots.
- Electronic repellents like electrical tracks that are placed around building areas that overlook common areas and entryways.
- Bird barriers that reflect light beams from the sun to startle and disorient birds.
- Netting to block off the area around and under the HVAC unit and prevent birds from taking shelter.
- Environmentally responsible bird sprays to help safely repel birds.
- Elimination of potential nesting sites such as holes in walls and unscreened vents.
- A strategy for the removing and safe relocation of protected bird species.
Birds are environmentally sensitive pests, so it is important to consult your pest management provider before taking any action to remove or relocate birds from your property. Some birds may even be protected by law and require special removal techniques.
Regardless of the species, all birds must receive ethical treatment and careful handling. So, implementing a proactive, preventive bird control program to keep these persistent pests from landing on your business is the best approach. If you notice a pest bird presence on your property, contact your local pest management provider to assess your bird problem and determine the best bird control plan for you.
Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry.