Many people are surprised when we tell them that birds are considered pests. Not all birds, of course, but certainly there are species of birds – such as pigeons, gulls, sparrows and starlings – which are definitely pests because of the problems they cause.
For businesses, a bird problem can put both staff and customers at risk of illness. This can be especially problematic for businesses operating within the food industry, as a bird infestation – along with the diseases they spread – can conflict with food safety standards and regulations, resulting in the contamination of food products and outbreaks of food-borne diseases.
This blog takes a look at the 7 biggest problems caused by pest birds.
7 problems caused by pest birds:
Whilst some of these are fairly self-evident, some of them may surprise you.
1. Fouling from droppings:
Anyone who has ever tried to have lunch outside knows the curse of bird droppings on tables and chairs. In addition to being unsightly, they are also unhygienic and a primary vector for disease (more about that under point number 3).
Bird droppings also cause a slip and fall risk in paved areas, especially when wet, and in manufacturing environments droppings are a considerable contamination risk to both raw materials and stored goods.
2. Physical damage:
The corrosive effects of bird droppings can cause irreversible damage – defacing rooftops, walkways, walls, vehicles and equipment. Bird droppings quickly turn to salt and ammonia; after rain, electro-chemical reactions speed up the rusting process. These acidic droppings eat away at paint, concrete and metal, and can eventually cause structural failure.
3. Spread of disease:
Possibly the biggest problem that pest birds cause is the transmission of diseases through their faeces (droppings), feathers, and nests.
The droppings from pigeons, gulls, starlings, and house sparrows are the primary way that birds transmit disease. Bird droppings basically act like a giant sponge for pathogens and while this doesn’t prove harmful in small doses, the build-up of bird faeces over time can result in an increased risk of exposure.
Feathers – particularly feathers of birds living in urban environments – can play host to a range of parasites, bacteria and viruses. However, it is primarily the feathers of dead birds which carry diseases. It is important to note that the chance of catching a disease from bird feathers is very slim.
For more on the types of disease that can be transmitted by birds, read our blog post “Fact or fiction: Birds spread disease.”
4. Spread of insects and parasites:
Ticks, fleas, mites and lice are carried by birds and their nests are great home for these parasites and secondary infestations. These insects and parasites can also be held responsible for the spread of diseases.
In some cases, these insects and parasites are known as vectors of specific diseases which can be transmitted to humans. Chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae), for example, are known carriers of encephalitis. While they subsist on blood drawn from a variety of birds, they may also attack humans. They have been found on pigeons, starlings and house sparrows.
5. Blocked drains:
Bird nests and nesting materials block gutters and drains, which can leading to flooding on the roof, roof leaks, rotten timbers and corroded metal.
6. Contamination of food:
Pecking not only damages but also contaminates stored products such as grain. And contamination leads to disease (see point number 3). Damaged stock also needs to be disposed of, causing financial loss.
7. Aggressive behaviour:
Birds can get extremely aggressive if humans come near their nesting sites, especially if they have young in their nests. Starlings, for example, will get recklessly aggressive towards other birds and occasionally humans if they get to close to their nests during fledgling season.
Gull attacks are typically instigated by the availability of food as opposed to protecting fledglings. Large and hungry, seagulls know that humans are a reliable source for a good meal, even if it means having to swoop in to snatch it out of your hand.
How can you prevent the problems caused by pest birds?
The potential for birds to spread diseases is a major concern for both home and business owners. Fortunately, there are a couple of prevention techniques available should you see signs of birds, to help reduce the risk of catching a disease from a bird. You can read more about those here.
Professional bird control:
The best way to prevent birds and limit their potential to spread diseases is to ensure your business utilises the latest innovative pest management solutions. A bird control professional like Rentokil has a range of solutions available – from bird spikes and netting to bird scaring devices – which can effectively deter and prevent pest birds from infesting your business.
As the world’s leading commercial pest control provider, Rentokil has developed a range of innovative solutions, utilising the latest in pest control technology to provide your company with a pest-free environment, helping to adhere to the necessary laws and regulations.