Tools & Techniques of the bird management trade


March 20, 2014

With new technology and an increase in research, the professional bird management industry has seen major changes and

additions to  control and deterrents. Every time you turn around, it seems like there’s new technology coming out with pros and cons for each method.

When Bird Doctor Nationwide inspectors are training to sell bird deterrents, they often ask what they should propose to prospective clients. I explain how vitally important the initial inspection or walkthrough is when making recommendations.
Interviewing prospective clients is key. Listening to their needs and wants is tantamount. More clients and potential decision-makers have already researched your company website before contacting you and know about many bird deterrents. If your client requests a particular deterrent and you’re confident it will work, go with it.

Creating the need for bird control

Before launching our bird division 16 years ago, many of our pest management clients with bird problems were unaware of viable solutions for bird prevention and elimination. Once they were educated about the types of bird services we provide, they were very receptive to the idea of discussing this much-needed additional service.

Explaining the varying types of methods and apprising them of the dangers, structural damage and health risks associated with bird infestations are important conversations to have. The industry has done a great job of educating clients about what can be done to control birds.

Working with a client’s budget

Your clients’ budgetary restraints often drive the products or methods chosen to control birds. When we submit a bird

proposal to a client, we break out our proposal into numerous phases. The following is a hypothetical example of what those phases would entail:

  • Phase 1: Cleaning and disinfecting where bird droppings have been found
  • Phase 2: Implementing the bird-trapping program
  • Phase 3: Installing bird netting under the front canopy
  • Phase 4: Installing bird spikes on all building ledges
  • Phase 5: Installing electrified shock units on the rooftop parapet ledge

These phases allow clients to pick and choose which phases they can complete. Sometimes our clients opt to have all phases completed immediately. Others choose to complete one or two phases at a time, annually or some other way that fits their budget.

Initial cleanup is a must

One thing is certain: For any job, bird guano cleanup must be provided before installing any bird deterrent program. If proper cleanup isn’t done, the deterrents won’t adequately adhere to the building and will become detached over time. This presents a serious liability for your company. For example, if the bird spike you installed falls off a building and injures someone, your company will be liable.

Experience has taught us a cleanup must precede any bird deterrent installation. While your clients might be well intentioned and offer to do the cleanup themselves, only those trained in handling hazardous waste, such as bird guano, should perform this first important step.

We recently had a national account insist on having its maintenance team do the cleanup. When our Bird Doctor Nationwide technicians arrived on site, the cleaning didn’t meet our standards. We submitted a proposal immediately and were awarded the cleanup job on the spot.

We emphasize the dangers and diseases associated with bird guano, and the importance of keeping employees away from areas overrun with bird waste. We also point out our Bird Doctor Nationwide technicians wear personal protective equipment (PPE) with a full-face high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter respirator, Tyvek uniform and neoprene gloves.

Ask for help

If you’re new at bird work and need advice, call a bird control company you trust. Bird Doctor Nationwide advises many companies or, as an alternative, will subcontract the work for them.

Other resources include bird supply companies and distributors. They can assist you with all aspects of the proposal, from doing the initial inspection, measuring, and putting together the proposal and pricing, to helping you decide on the most appropriate method. They also appreciate your business when you purchase their products. It’s a win-win situation for both your company and theirs.

Some various bird control methods include:

  • audio and ultrasonic deterrents/bird distress calls
  • automatic bird net gun
  • avicide bait
  • bird coil
  • bird control radar systems
  • bird drones
  • bird droppings cleanup and disinfecting
  • bird gel
  • bird houses
  • bird netting
  • bird pin and wire (also called post and wire, which is not electrified)
  • bird repellents
  • bird screen/hardware cloth/bird mesh
  • bird slope/slide
  • bird spikes (stainless steel and plastic)
  • blank firing gun devices
  • chimney, vent and gutter guards
  • computerized bird calls
  • contraceptive birth control programs
  • electrified bird deterrents
  • fake animals (owl, falcon, dog, alligator, dead goose and coyote decoys used as scare devices)
  • falconry (trained birds of prey)
  • fogging, hazing and misting systems
  • grid wire system for seagulls
  • laser bird control
  • lethal harvesting
  • pole net or mist netting
  • rockets/pyrotechnics/canons/thunder generator
  • trained dogs
  • trapping programs
  • turf and pond repellents
  • vinyl strip doors, plastic/air curtains
  • visual deterrents (balloons, specialist kites, window decals, bird reflector tape and ribbons)
  • woodpecker putty and deterrent

We’ve seen homemade methods, which use nails hammered through a piece of wood and facing upright. We’ve even seen a piece of wood with broken glass pointing upright on ledges. (We don’t condone these methods.)

While there are several different methods to choose from to solve a problem, sometimes there’s only one best solution. For example, 15 years ago, Bird Doctor Nationwide submitted a proposal for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The facilities manager expressed interest in applying electrified shock to all of the I-beams under the Joe DiMaggio Highway.

Our professional recommendation, however, was to install 3/4-in. bird netting to the entire underside of the highway. We explained installed netting would provide total exclusion of all birds, would require less maintenance, and be less expensive. The department agreed with our assessment, and went with our recommendation.

You learn some deterrents are better than others for different types of birds. For example, you can’t install pin-and-wire (also called post-and-wire or bird wire) for sparrows. But if you install this system for pigeons, it works well.

Another example — when looking to exclude pigeons from the underside of a loading dock, highway or bridge, it’s best to install a 2-in. net. However, when excluding sparrows, a 3/4-in. net will work best.

These are particulars you learn over time. Trial and error makes for a great learning experience. We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes and try to not make the same one twice. Furthermore, if you can learn from the mistakes of others, you’ll be wiser.
A final tip: I do a fair amount of traveling for business and pleasure. Wherever I go around the U.S. and the world, I make it a practice to look up. More often than not, I see major bird problems. So wherever you happen to be, look up. You’ll be glad you did. pmp

Aust is president and CEO of Bird Doctor Nationwide and can be reached at


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