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Bird management: How to make the most of mist netting

|  October 23, 2017

Over the past decade or so, mist nets that humanely capture, remove and relocate pest birds (sparrows, starlings and pigeons) from inside structures have become popular with pest, bird and wildlife removal firms. Mist nets resemble volleyball nets and operate on a simple principle: Birds fly into them and get caught.

Mist nets have been used for more than 300 years. They originated with Japanese bird hunters. In 1947, ornithologists introduced modern nets to the U.S. to monitor and study different bird species.

The Bird Doctor team installs mist nets regularly.
Photo: Bird Doctor

Different mesh size mist nets are used for different types of birds. Typically, though, it’s very fine and similar to a hairnet. It’s attached to two poles and suspended from the ceiling in a retail space, shopping mall, airport terminal or hangar, warehouse, or any location that has birds indoors. When hung properly, these nets are virtually invisible to a bird’s sight.

Installation tips

  • First, check all local, state and federal laws regarding this type of work, to ensure you are in compliance with all laws.
  • Birds are most active in the early morning when they wake up, so have your nets in place and ready to go.
  • If you install four to seven nets side by side, your efficacy tends to increase.
  • Install them with some give. If your net is too tight, the birds will bounce off the net and not be captured. If the net is hung properly, birds will get caught and fall into its built-in pockets.
  • Use extreme caution when untangling a bird that has been captured. Gently remove the net from its feet, tail, wings and body.
  • Repair or replace your mist nets if there are holes or rips. Otherwise, captured birds might escape. Holes can also complicate bird extraction.

Removal tips

Mist netting removal is an art and a science. It can become time consuming, especially if your client has a lot of birds. Also, if the client tried to remove the birds prior to your mist netting campaign, the birds could be very skittish and net shy. We’ve heard numerous stories from our clients on ways they tried to remove birds — everything from throwing tennis balls at them to sounding air horns. Some facilities try leaving the doors open, which only serves to attract more birds inside.

Our professional recommendation is that mist nets should always be attended to so that anytime a bird is caught, it can be removed quickly. Once a bird is caught, it will struggle to get free and only become more entangled.

Follow-up tips

After you have provided your mist net services and removed the birds, a nice touch with your client is to survey the account to determine how birds entered the facility. Common ways birds enter a building include through doors left open, opened loading dock doors with missing or broken plastic curtains, and openings in the building that require exclusion. This inspection and observation can lead to additional work.

Staurt Aust, president of Bird Doctor Worldwide, can be reached at (201) 599-1007 x114 or

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