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Understand why birds love hanging out at your property, and what you can do to keep them away. Here, we discuss the various types of bird control. We also talk about things you can do other than installing bird control products, and most importantly, what works and what doesn’t work.
Different Types of Bird Deterrents and How They Work
There are 4 different types of bird deterrents that can be used at your property. They are bird spikes, bird netting, sonic bird deterrents, and visual bird deterrents. Each of these deterrents have their own advantages and disadvantages but the big question is always, do they work?
How Bird Spikes and Netting Work
Both bird spikes and bird netting work as physical deterrents. They prevent birds from entering an area or from landing or perching. This makes them very effective at keeping birds away.
The disadvantage is when the areas you need to protect are large. The costs can add up with an extensive installation so the best strategy is to look at eliminating the things that attract birds to your property first, and then install spikes or netting in the key areas you need to protect.
Find out more about bird spikes and bird netting, including where and how to install them.
How Sonic Bird Deterrents Work
Sonic or audio deterrents can use either ultrasonic sound waves or a combination of bird distress calls and bird predator calls to ward off birds. The advantage is these units can cover a large area more cost effectively than using spikes or netting.
There are a couple disadvantages. Birds will get used to these audio sounds after a while and simply ignore them or find their way into nesting and perching areas around corners or that are somewhat shielded from the noise. The other thing that tends to happen is people will complain about the sounds.
So while sonic deterrents can be effective in some very specific situations, they usually do not solve the bird problem completely or for the long term.
How Visual Bird Deterrents Work
There are a few variations of fake owls available that can be installed in a high area such as a roof ledge to scare birds away. This is the most cost effective deterrent and also the least effective.
Birds will quickly get used to the fact the owl is not a threat and ignore it. Much the same way as they get used to being around people.
How to Clean Bird Droppings Off Your Building
When a bird pest problem goes on for a period of time, bird droppings can accumulate in the areas where they nest and perch and become a real problem. Birds also have a habit of letting droppings go as they come in for a landing on roof edges – which creates a real mess along the side of buildings that is not easy to reach or clean.
Bird droppings should be removed prior to installing any bird deterrents such as pigeon spikes to both sanitize the area and to provide a clean surface so the caulking used can adhere to the structure.
Why is Cleaning Bird Droppings so Difficult?
Droppings from pigeons and other birds can be very difficult to remove …
- Hardening. Once bird droppings have had time to dry out, they can become as hard as concrete making them impossible to simply brush off. They need to be scraped or pressure washed off the surface. There are also enzyme type removers that will make it easier to remove.
- Acid staining. Bird droppings are very acidic, so once removed they will often leave stains, especially in painted surfaces such as building siding. While bare concrete surfaces may be pressure washed or hot water pressure washed to remove most staining, painted surfaces will most likely require a stain-blocker primer and then repainting following the cleaning.
- Respiratory illness. Heavy or frequent exposure to dry bird droppings can be unhealthy. The droppings may contain various bacteria or fungal diseases. The biggest risk comes from scraping dry droppings to remove them which creates a dust that can be inhaled.
Steps for Cleaning Bird Droppings
- Wear protective clothing. Always wear a respirator mask and gloves when cleaning bird droppings. You can also wear protective clothing such as a disposable body suit which is recommended when cleaning large amounts or conducting frequent cleanings. Persons with respiratory or immunodeficiency ailments should not conduct this type of cleaning work.
- Cordon off the area. Use orange safety cones, warning signs, and caution tape to block off areas so people do not walk through the area while cleaning is being done.
- Wear a safety harness. Always wear the proper safety harnessing and be tied off with a safety line in accordance to safety regulations when working on roof tops, near roof ledges, gutters, and any high places.
- Wet the droppings. Use a low pressure hose or spray bottle to thoroughly moisten the bird droppings. This will soften them up and make them easier to remove. This also controls the dust and prevents spores from becoming airborne, making them much safer to handle. If the droppings are very hard, you can also spray them down with an enzyme type bird poop remover which will soften them up and release them from the surface.
- Scrape up the majority of the droppings. Depending on the area and the amount, you can use a flat handheld scraper, a shovel, or a broom to gather up the droppings and put them in a sealed plastic bag for disposal.
- Scrub away the remaining residue. Again, keep the area damp with water. Depending on the situation, you can use a wet scrub brush or a pressure washer to clean away the remaining residue. Common bacteria killing cleaning agents can be used to fully sanitize the area once all the residue is removed.
- Disposal. Depending on local regulations, small amounts of bird droppings make great fertilizer and can be disposed of in your garden area, or via conventional trash disposal. Large amounts may require specialized hazardous waste disposal.
How to Remove Bird Dropping Stains
Removing the staining left behind by bird poop is more difficult than cleaning up the droppings. Because of its acidic nature, it will set in and stain most materials.
Removing Stains from Concrete and Brick
Concrete and brick are very porous substances making them very difficult to clean. In most cases pressure washing the surface will do the job, but this can drive the stain deeper into the concrete if it’s particularly bad.
An alternative method would be to use warm water with detergent and a gentle scrubbing action to loosen the staining material in the pores of the surface. Then soak up your cleaning solution by laying wood chips or a similar material over the surface. This will draw the water out of the pores and the stain with it.
Removing Stains from Painted Surfaces
The easiest way to remove bird dropping stains from painted surfaces is to repaint it. This includes painted concrete, brickwork, siding, and building flashing.
Once the area is thoroughly cleaned and dry, conduct any surface preparation that may be required. Then apply a stain blocking primer to the stained areas. This will prevent the stain from bleeding through the paint and showing up again.
Colour match and repaint the surface as normal.
Removing Stains from Other Surfaces
There are a lot of variables in which surfaces can be cleaned or not, the main one being the porosity of the material. Glass can be easily cleaned, where as banners hanging from a light post may not be able to be cleaned. Use your standard cleaning methods with stain removers where possible. Any surface or material that won’t come clean or can not be painted over, may have to be replaced.
Once you have the problem areas all cleaned up, implement your bird control plan right away to prevent further issues at your property.
What Attracts Birds to Your Property, and How to Keep them Away
Birds can be a constant nuisance … digging into garbage cans and covering everything in bird droppings. And some properties have a tough time with birds while others have no problem at all.
Installing bird spikes and bird netting is one thing you can do to keep birds away. But there are some other things you want to address around your property that will help keep our fine feathered friends away.
You want to remove the things that attract birds to your property. And what birds are attracted to is very simple:
- Sources of food
- Sources of drinking water
- Sources of shelter
Getting rid of these three things is sometimes not so easy, but there are some things you can do that will make a big difference.
Step 1: Keeping Birds Away by Removing Food Sources
The biggest source of food for birds at a commercial property is garbage, especially from restaurants. Birds eat many things including insects, worms, seeds, and berries. But there is not usually an abundance of these natural food sources at a property constructed of concrete, steel, and asphalt.
Garbage, on the other hand, can be a real problem. Here’s what you can do …
1. Keep your property well swept to remove debris and litter.
Debris containing dirt, seeds, and crumbs will naturally accumulate along sidewalk curbs as the wind blows it around. Keeping your curbs well swept in addition to general litter pickup is vitally important. This will stop both natural food sources and garbage that birds love from accumulating on the property. Other place such as stairwells, alcoves, and corners where debris is building up due to littering or wind movement should be kept clean as well.
2. Garbage dumpsters should be completely enclosed.
The biggest garbage source for birds is often garbage dumpsters. Having walls that surround your dumpsters for aesthetics is not enough – they should be completely enclosed to keep birds out. We suggest a mesh roof that will allow odors to escape so they don’t build up.
Step 2: Keeping Birds Away by Removing Water Sources
Birds need water for both drinking and bathing. Getting rid of stray sources of water will help you keep birds away from your property. Here is what to look at …
1. Keep your fountain well maintained
Stagnant fountains and water features create a water source for birds to drink from and to bathe in. Stagnant water also attracts bugs and adds a new food source for birds. Keeping your fountain running and well maintained will help to keep birds away from this water source.
2. Repair parking lot low spots, and clear catch basins and drains
There are quite a few reasons that cause parking lot flooding. Taking care of these maintenance tasks will keep small pools and large lakes of water, and the birds away.
Make sure drainage systems and catch basins are clean and free flowing to drain water away. Fill in potholes that collect water. Re-level low spots or redirect these areas to proper drainage points
3. Check your roof for water sources
Clogged roof drains and low spots on a flat commercial building roof can cause rain water to accumulate and attract birds to one of their favorite hangout areas. Also check rain gutters along the edge of the roof to ensure they are not clogged and water is draining away properly.
Step 3: Keeping Birds Away by Removing Shelter
This is the trickiest part of your bird control maintenance. Most of the sheltered areas birds enjoy are architectural features and can not be easily changed.
1. Remove Nesting Materials
Birds love to gather leaves and twigs for nesting. Check your roof for leaves, branches, and moss buildup. These things are not only bad for the health of your roof, but birds love them. Taking good care of all your property’s landscaping to remove as much dead foliage as possible will help keep birds away by making nesting resources scarce.
2. Removing access to bird perches
The final tool in your bird control program is to stop birds from landing or perching on areas around your property. This is where installing bird spikes and bird netting comes in. Some of the areas you will notice birds hanging out is:
- Along the roof edge. This is one of their favorite landing spots
- On piping, and on trusses and framing that are covered such as in a parkade or covered walkway
- On building and window ledges on the side of the building
Once you have addressed all these common maintenance needs on your property, you will cut down on the amount of bird traffic you have. Then you can focus on the few key areas that still need bird spikes or netting without the problem seeming to be overwhelming.
What Kind of Damage Can Birds Do to Your Property?
Having an effective bird control program will greatly decrease your costs compared to maintaining the damage they can do to a property. Birds can cause all kinds of trouble to the various systems and areas of your property.
Let’s take a look at some of the areas you can check for damage:
Bird Pest Damage Checklist
- Check eaves troughs, roof drains, and floor drains around the property for blockage by bird droppings and nesting materials. When clogged, these areas can cause flooding and water damage
- Look for nests behind light fixtures that may create a fire hazard.
- Inspect roof top air conditioning units for signs of activity. Birds will nest near them or even inside them if the access panels are off. Especially check derelict units that may have openings in them.
- Check piping insulation in underground or covered parking garages, and in other covered areas for signs it has been ripped up for use as nesting material or by perching activity.
- Check for holes in walls, ceiling, and building soffits that may be used as a nesting place by birds.
- Look for bird droppings on the roof, building sides, walkways, near lamp posts and other high structures.
- Keep an eye on garbage enclosures and cans for signs of bird feeding.
Bird droppings are very acidic and can cause a lot of damage to your property, especially painted surfaces. And as you can see from the checklist, there are a lot of other things birds can damage on your property.
Regular inspection and maintenance of these areas will help keep birds away from your property and prevent costly maintenance down the road.