Birds Of A Feather


Written by Staff Writer

Alfred Hitchcock had bird issues (especially seagulls), but in the Baltimore-Washington area, the most common pest birds are pigeons, house sparrows, and starlings.  These birds are undesirable if they land, roost, and nest on or in our buildings because they bring unwanted noise, odor, and often disease.  Plus, no one likes their deck, patio, lawn furniture, or other belongings adorned with bird droppings.

If you’ve ever tried getting rid of pest birds, you probably know that they annoyingly adapt to many control methods and won’t go away without a fight.  After all, they’re called “pests” for a reason.  So how do you win this battle and get them to leave for good?  You have to think like the bird. Birds  seek flat, unobstructed roosting surfaces and they are looking for food.  If you take these two things away, they’ll find somewhere else to go.

To reduce or eliminate surfaces on which pest birds roost (i.e. ledges, railings, parapets, awnings, etc.) you should consider installing one or more physical barriers, which typically include spikes (plastic or metal), netting, and electric barriers. Physical barriers are humane, eco-friendly and cost-effective solutions that have high success rates.  Spikes and netting are inexpensive and easy to install, but are best suited for hidden areas or where building aesthetics is not a priority.  Wires and electric barriers (low-voltage, non-lethal) are less obtrusive and often virtually invisible.

Another great way to make flat roosting surfaces unavailable is to cover them with wood or metal sheathing at a 45° or steeper slope.  If you are considering a roof or façade repair/replacement project, this would be the perfect time to implement these methods.

Other bird control systems like sound, traps, aversion chemicals and killing are inhumane, expensive, temporary, and/or ineffective options.  We and the Humane Society do not recommend them.  As for plastic owls and hawks, they only work on the stupid birds. Savvy city birds aren’t fooled.

The last thing to do to keep birds away is limit availability to food.  Implementing better trash management and asking residents to not feed them are two ways to encourage birds to inhabit other areas.

Since every building has its own unique roosting sites and bird access, there is no “one size fits all” bird control option.  Be sure to have a qualified professional discuss with you which options are the most appropriate for your building and goals