Bird Management: Not as Simple as One Might Think

By |  September 30, 2014

To many, bird management equates to merely tackling pigeons, sparrows and starlings. But our industry must foresee myriad other challenges, such as:

  • woodpeckers drilling holes in the marque facing of a country club;
  • seagulls nose-diving near children eating popcorn; and
  • an American bald eagle snatching rainbow trout from a stocked fish pond. (Note: This isn’t a hypothetical situation; it involves my pond. So far, the eagle is winning. I’ve temporarily given up on stocking my pond.)

Many farmers use falcons to keep flocks of starlings away from their crops. During harvest season, one falcon can drive away an entire flock. The problem is farmers have to be there all day, day after day, with their falcons until their crops are harvested. We have to be more creative than this.

A food plant has a wooded area through which children walk on their way to school. Thousands of starlings roost in the trees, and the danger of histoplasmosis exists. The initial idea was to wait until a cold evening and spray the birds in the trees with soapy water. The birds would fall to the ground and then be picked up. It might work, but it presents a poor public image.

I watched as the birds came home to roost. Within an hour, I had my answer: Remove about 20 percent of the branches so there isn’t enough roosting area for the entire flock. Being a tight flock, they’d leave to seek a more-spacious roosting area. The tree-trimming tactic worked.

It can take years to perfect one’s bird management practices. Bird management is part science, part art.

If you’re using a food deterrent, for example, prebaiting is required. And you must remember to wear the same clothes when you switch to the active bait. Just wearing a different hat can spook birds.

Bird management jobs can be simple, such as covering an “O” on a sign with netting. Bird jobs also can be complex. One might need to rent helicopters to move migratory birds more than 50 miles from where they planned to nest and feed on stored grain. One of my favorite cases involved using bird netting to cover more than an acre of a parking garage to keep pigeons out. It worked like a charm for more than a decade.

We have to be smarter than birds, which requires experience and ingenuity.

You can reach Dr. Frishman, an industry consultant since 1967 and president of AMF Pest Management Services, at mypmp@northcoastmedia.net.

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