When Birds Become Pests

July 27, 2015 - Tracy

Wild birds, particularly songbirds, can be a delight to listen to and watch. But some “feathered friends” are not our friends at all, and certain species need to be prevented from damaging our homes and property. Find out more about our bird control solutions to keep the pigeons (and other pest birds) from coming home to roost.

Most wild birds, and their nests and eggs, are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. However, three are not: pigeons (Columba livia, also known as rock doves or city pigeons), house sparrows, and European starlings. While other types of pigeon, sparrow, and starling are protected, these specific three have been designated as pest or nuisance birds and may be dealt with accordingly (provided any applicable local ordinances are observed). There are many reasons to keep these birds away from your home or business.

Birds have a tendency to build nests where you don’t want them, and this material can create serious hazards. In May 2015, the Expo Line SkyTrain in Vancouver was disrupted when a bird’s nest under the guideway was ignited by a stray spark from routine maintenance. The fire severely damaged a communications cable, requiring hours of difficult repair and stranding thousands of angry commuters. Nests are also a potential cause of dryer vent or chimney fires in houses, resulting in loss of property or life. And when a nest blocks ventilation or exhaust for a gas furnace, deadly carbon monoxide can fill the home. In October 2013, a bird’s nest in the chimney of an Allentown, PA, home caused carbon monoxide to build to what could have been fatal levels not only in that house, but in two neighboring houses (one of which had a detector, which led to discovery of the problem) and in the surrounding area, requiring evacuation. Bird nests and related debris can also clog rain gutters and drainage systems, leading to leaks and water damage.

And where there are birds and nests, there are also droppings. Bird dung is more than just aesthetically repulsive; it is highly acidic and therefore corrosive to roofing and building materials (damaging structural integrity), equipment, painted surfaces (including car finishes), and vegetation. Fresh droppings can create a slipping hazard, while dried ones can release disease-causing fungal spores into the air and lead to illnesses such as histoplasmosis, a respiratory infection. While histoplasmosis is primarily a risk for people with weakened immune systems and those who work around large accumulations of bird droppings (such as contractors or clean-up crews), birds and their manure have been linked to several other diseases affecting humans, such as toxoplasmosis, encephalitis, meningitis, cryptococcosis, and salmonellosis. And birds carry not only figurative “bugs” but also real ones, including mites, bed bugs, and fleas.

Bird infestations endanger homes and health, and they are just plain bad for business. An Occupational Health & Safety article points out the risk of “every facility manager’s nightmare: OSHA, the USDA, local health boards, or other governmental organizations citing and fining your facility or shutting it down because of bird infestation or bird mess.” Lawsuits from employees or customers exposed to bird-related hazards are another real possibility.

Netting is one highly effective means of preventing birds from getting into places they’re not wanted. Bird netting is especially good for blocking access to larger areas, such as attics, church steeples, barn rafters, or airplane hangars. US Netting offers plastic oriented and knotted twine varieties, on this site (3/4” mesh and larger) and on our sister site BirdGuard.com (3/4” mesh and smaller). This netting is lightweight, durable, and UV resistant.

For more narrow areas such as ledges, chimney openings, signs, or windowsills where netting is a less practical option, bird spikes offer another anti-roosting solution. On BirdGuard.com, we offer our own stainless steel bird spikes, specially designed by our bird-owning president, Paul Galla. These strips with extendable spikes can be trimmed to size with tin snips and easily installed on vertical or horizontal surfaces with adhesive gel, a one-person job. The spikes will not harm birds—they merely make the landing surface uncomfortable and unappealing. They therefore carry no risk of harming any protected species, unlike other bird aversion methods. The strips are designed to be fairly inconspicuous, require little to no maintenance, and last for years. These bird control spikes are arguably the most humane and cost-effective option available.

Let US Netting and BirdGuard help prevent structural damage and health hazards caused by nesting birds and their droppings. You can order from either website, or call 1-800-331-2973 for customized service.

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