Bird Control and Prevention – How to get rid of birds?
Effective bird control is extremely important in order to prevent a number of serious issues. Pest birds carry many diseases which can be transmitted to humans, primarily through their foul (dried excrement can turn into powder which is harmful when inhaled and wet excrement can get into the human bloodstream through open wounds or poor hand hygiene). 49% of all feral pigeons carry disease and there are 60 different kinds of diseases carried by pigeons.
Besides the health risks, bird deterrent measures are necessary as bird fouling is dangerous as a trip/slip hazard, it can be unsightly, and it also causes property damage due to its uric acid content which erodes surfaces. The birds themselves also inflict property damage through their nesting activity.
During nesting season some pest birds can be aggressive, such as gulls, and there’s a risk they will dive bomb people or even directly attack. Insects which inhabit stored products can be found in the bird’s nests and make their way into the property, e.g. flour weevils.
Pest birds can carry parasites/biting insects such as bird mites, fleas, ticks and even bedbugs which can result in a secondary pest infestation.
All birds in the UK are a protected species, however, control is possible on some types under general license. When dealing with birds, a preventative approach is recommended for conservation purposes.
The best and most long-lasting way to get rid of pest birds is to install proofing measures in the area to stop them being able to nest or roost there. There are a number of bird deterrents, all have their merits and also their disadvantages – the right one for a particular situation will depend on factors such as the building type, building location, the purpose of the building, the physical structures around the area to be addressed, bird species and numbers etc.
The most common bird deterrent methods are:
Bird spikes are narrow strips of material that contain a number of spikes. They are most commonly placed along eaves, window sills, roofs and walls, or wherever birds land near or on the property. They are particularly good for ledges and are cost effective. However, they are open to damage and birds/debris can get caught in them.
Bird free gel
Also known as ‘fire gel’, it is a relatively new method of bird control, first introduced in 2011. It appears to birds that there is a fire, making them avoid the area. Installed in small dishes, it is non-toxic, unobtrusive and low maintenance. This approach works for historical buildings where the appearance of the building needs to be maintained. However, the low-profile gel dishes need to be open to UV light e.g. sunlight, they can be affected by their environment (you wouldn’t necessarily want to install them somewhere which is particularly dusty as that could diminish their effectivity) and they only work for areas with milder bird issues.
Usually made of polyethylene, bird netting is an effective way of bird proofing buildings and other structures against pest bird species. It provides a discreet and impenetrable barrier that protects premises without harming the birds. Bird netting can be particularly effective for large open areas such as roofs and loading bays and provides a good long term solution, particularly when combined with a maintenance contract (several visits per year to check the condition of the netting). However, it can be expensive.
Made of metal, bird mesh is long-lasting and sturdy. Usually fitted in areas which are exposed or vulnerable to regular human activity, the downside of mesh is that it prohibits access to that area so cannot be fitted where entry is required e.g. around pipes.
Can be audio (emitting noises which make birds uncomfortable) or visual (such as scarecrows, hawk kites, dead birds and balloons). These methods are less intrusive than others mentioned in this article, unfortunately this also means they can be less effective due to the birds becoming habituated to the stimulus.
This is the process of using predatory birds as a natural pest bird deterrent. Specially selected species (usually hawks – hence the name) are trained to deal with working in unnatural environments with distractions and dangers they would not usually encounter. This approach is based on the fact that many pest birds have a natural fear of predators, so their presence in the area encourages problem species to disperse. Although this is a environmentally-friendly way of controlling pest birds, it does need to be done regularly to be effective.
A method which relies on pest birds being startled by the strong contrast between the ambient light and the laser beam. This technique is more successful during low light conditions and can be attuned to frequencies and wavelengths that individual bird species don’t like. However, safety concerns over the use of the beam at night are possible as it can be visible over a large distance and cause widespread disturbance to many species – some nations even have laws which prohibit the use of lasers over a certain power. It’s also expensive in comparison to some other bird pest control techniques.
A track is laid on flat surfaces, when the bird comes into contact with the track it emits a small electric pulse which subsequently deters the bird from returning to the area. Often used alongside netting, wire and/or spikes on difficult to proof areas. This system is similar to the bird free gel in the sense that its low profile and visually subtle. It’s also weather-proof but only works for smaller flocks and requires mains electric to plug it into.
Although a common pest issue, rats pose a serious problem to both your property and your health; they can chew through furnishings and electrical cables, contaminate food sources and 50% of them carry the fatal Weils Disease plus other rodent-borne illnesses. They are also unhygienic, can create bad smells within your property and multiply at an alarming rate so it’s important to get rid of rats as quickly and effectively as possible.
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