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Much more serious is the potential for inhalation of the airborne disease agents that these birds can carry. Such respiratory diseases can be fatal. In most cases, healthy people catching diseases like Ornithosis, Histoplasmosis or Cryptococcosis are hardly affected.

However, for more susceptible individuals such as the very young, the elderly or those with damaged immune systems, these diseases can be much more serious - critical to know if birds are found around hospitals, nurseries or nursing homes.

Another major health concern can come from the presence of pigeons in roof spaces in older premises. Our members have found dead birds contaminating water storage tanks. Any building covered in bird fouling looks unpleasant, can smell and projects a poor image of an organisation. Bird droppings are acidic and can corrode and erode metals and certain building materials such as stonework often associated with buildings of historical importance.



Often thoughts of pest control centre around rats and mice in winter, and wasps in the summer. Dee Ward-Thompson, Technical Manager of the British Pest Control

Association, sets out why birds should be considered too.

An important area for FMs to consider is the impact of birds on premises, in the urban environment some bird species carry disease, can damage buildings, encourage insect infestations and even have the potential to contaminate food.

These are serious matters especially for FMs who want to maintain high standards of hygiene and presentation of their buildings, both old and new. Furthermore, reputations can be ruined and businesses destroyed if pest activity is allowed to develop in sites and businesses. Media and social networking sites rapidly pick up on and report about pest infestations, throwing organisations into the media limelight without always considering the facts.

There is evidence that urban birds carry a wide variety of disease causing organisms such as Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli - and while the chances of catching diseases from birds are fairly remote, poor standards of hygiene after contact with bird droppings can significantly increase the risk.


More commonly, bird activities (specifically nesting materials, droppings and food debris) often result in gutters becoming blocked, so that rainwater drains back into the building. Whilst in some cases this may only lead to minor damp damage or increase the chances of rot, in others the problems can be more serious. Water damage to computers or electrics can be catastrophic and can halt business or production – creating major disturbance and financial loss.

As with any pest control problem, the starting point for urban bird management is to try to remove the reasons why the pest is present. This basically means denying the pest species access to food and harbourage.

Over the years a wide range of control methods have been created to deal with bird infestations. The first principle of any system is to cause the birds no lasting harm, but only to prevent or discourage them from landing on buildings.

Visual methods such as mirrors, balloons, silhouettes or models of predatory creatures can also be an effective deterrent. More recently, active systems like shock strips, audible scarers and optical gels have been used to create negative associations in birds wishing to land or roost on buildings.

A professional pest control contractor should prepare, in conjunction with the client, a full bird management strategy. This may include the continued control of hygiene and housekeeping standards, proofing with exclusion systems to keep the birds out, and finally where absolutely necessary, and only where it is legally allowed, culling specific persistent individuals.

Trusted contractors should fully survey the premises, provide a quotation and detail the pests found, outline the treatments to be carried out and the frequency of visits. FMs will get all of this and more from any full BPCA member.

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