James McKay, Director of The Bird Control Company, looks at the wide range of issues organisations can face when dealing with bird pest issues and advises on some potential solutions.

For FM professionals who need to deal with avian nuisance, the public’s attitude to wild birds can lead to a quandary; how to solve the pest bird issues without upsetting a business’s stakeholders. In order to keep everyone happy, the solution needs to be legal, environmentally-friendly, non-lethal and effective. Nature, as always, provides the answer – birds of prey.

Generically known as hawks, correctly selected, trained and handled, these birds can, and will, move problem birds from the area without harming them, and without upsetting the public and other stakeholders. Wrongly selected, trained or handled hawks will, however, make the matter worse. The media is full of incidents involving hawks getting it wrong, but the blame has to be placed at the door of the bird control business using the hawks.

Birds evoke a wide range of public opinion and emotions. Some see birds as a nuisance and a potential health hazard – a problem to be managed, whilst others believe that humans should actively encourage birds.

Birds (or more accurately their faeces) cause physical damage to buildings, their feathers and nesting materials block hopperheads, drains and gutters, and their faeces contain pathogenic materials and insects which are injurious to human health. The sight of masses of guano, feathers and other detritus around a building or site will damage the organisation’s image and reputation, inevitably impacting the company fi nancially.

Bird faeces are linked to a number of serious human diseases including salmonellosis, psittacosis and pseudo- tuberculosis. Pigeon faeces provide an ideal environment for the growth of the organisms causing such diseases as histoplasmosis, aspergillosis, cryptococcosis and listeriosis.

Inhaling particles from droppings can lead to ornithosis, a potentially lethal disease. In addition, insects associated with pigeons carry diseases such as salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, Escherichia coli (E. coli), chlamydia psittaci (psittacosis/ornithosis) and cryptococcus neoformans. Although the risk of such infection may be relatively low, the diseases are severe and can be life-threatening.

Bird faeces represent a health and safety hazard for employees who have to remove them or work in their vicinity. Dealing with accumulations of guano can be expensive and time consuming, due to the requirement for protective equipment and the procedures required under health and safety regulations.

Health and safety problems are also caused by the build-up of faeces due to the slippery and unsafe footing it provides on walkways and ledges, hindering proper maintenance. Where elderly people use an area, the slip hazard caused by bird faeces can have potentially serious consequences.

60 | TOMORROW’S FM “In order to keep everyone

happy, the solution needs to be legal, environmentally- friendly, non-lethal and

effective. Nature, as always, provides the answer – birds of prey.”

All too often, companies approach the local falconer and enlist his help. This person probably has little if any experience, training or knowledge of using hawks to move (and not kill) problem birds. Falconers train their birds to hunt (kill), and the last thing any company wants or needs is a stream of images on social media showing a hawk killing another bird on their premises.

No two problems are the same, and so there can never be a single ‘silver bullet’ solution. To enable a bird control company to employ effi cient strategies, a detailed survey of the affected building(s) and the surrounding area needs to be undertaken before any work is started.

It is vital that any company employed to carry out bird control operations has plenty of experience, understands the legal aspects, selects the correct species, trains and deploys their hawks properly; any deviation from this will lead to adverse publicity and reputational damage.

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