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Flock Off ... For Good

11 May 2011

Birds, their droppings and nesting materials, can cause health risks and create other problems for buildings and the surrounding area. As the spring months mark the start of the mating season, Rentokil offers advice for FMs

WHEREVER YOU ARE IN THE UK, you may be at risk of bird control issues. However, there are a number of factors that can result in an area being at higher risk. For instance, coastal locations are commonly associated with seagulls as cliff-side locations are ideal for nesting and a rich food source from the sea provide the perfect habitat for gulls. In recent years, however, the increase of coastal developments and a depleted fish stock have encouraged the birds further inland.
Gulls are scavengers, attracted to towns because there are rich pickings to be had from visitors’ food, general rubbish and the bins of food retailers. The risk of spreading diseases is
significant and, in many cases, birds feed from polluted sources such as rubbish dumps, and
bring germs directly to human environments, including picnic tables or outside restaurant areas. The most common illnesses carried by birds are Ornithosis and Salmonella.
While pigeons carry the widest range of diseases of any bird, and have a tendency to breed very quickly, gulls are particularly problematic due to their threatening and aggressive behaviour, especially during their mating season from May to August. While divebombing gulls and scavenging pigeons present an inconvenience and health risk to staff and customers, they also cause considerable damage to buildings and pavements. Acidic droppings can eat away at stone and brickwork, and nest debris and feathers can block gutters and drainage systems, leading to water penetration.
Consistent erosion caused by the bacteria can result in irreversible damage to the structure of buildings and nesting materials can literally be an eyesore. Features such as overhanging walls and flat roofs are all attractive landing areas for birds, so managers need to be even more vigilant in ensuring that birds are not able to settle permanently and become a nuisance.
You may not be able to help the geographical location of your business, however, if you are
concerned about a bird problem in your area there are a number of warning signs you can look out for to help you identify the problem before it escalates.
● Be observant – this is key as the mating season begins. If you have areas where birds can nest, keep an eye out for nests and also for nesting materials that may be strewn about your premises. Adult birds will also look to make frequent trips to feed their young, and will seek out food sources nearby.
● Listen - Pay attention for noise from live birds, and bird cries, especially from young chicks
● Damage - pecking damage could be anything from where birds have attempted to access food stocks on your premises, to scavenging from your rubbish bins.
● Droppings – usually in the location on which the birds roost.
If you are concerned that your property may be a hot spot for birds, it is worth considering some preventative actions to keep them at bay. Savvas Othon, Technical Director for Rentokil Pest Control says that prevention is better than cure when controlling birds. His tops tips include:
● Remove any food sources from the immediate environment.
● Do not wait until a population grows - the longer they are on site the harder they will be to combat. Egg and nest removal encourages birds to move on.
● If birds have become a problem, a site survey from a specialist bird consultant, can help you keep your premises free from nuisance birds.
Even with the greatest will in the world, birds will sometimes get the better of your premises. In this situation there is only one response – call in the professionals. There are laws regarding the treatment of birds, and many species of wild bird are protected against injury except in certain circumstances; there are many groups that work to protect birds, as well as a general public affection for the animals, so a sensitive approach is required.
The pest control industry has developed a range of methods for preventing birds becoming problematic, focussing on the principles of exclusion and restriction. These include wire or point deterrent systems. Wire strands and metal points are non-lethal and discreet ways in which birds can be prevented from settling on and around buildings. Netting systems can cover large areas, and metal spikes will protect beams and ledges.
Regular, expert inspection can prevent further damage. For example, a common complaint from retail outlets in large shopping centres, is that bird noises can often be heard but their source cannot be found. Pest control professionals can help check hidden areas such as air conditioning systems and roof eaves, which are often found to house undetected nests.
If you maintain a particularly difficult property that may be near to a landfill site or another type of industrial location, Rentokil has an entirely natural solution. Raptors, or birds of prey are specially trained and will deter even the most persistent of feathered pests. Through consistent use of this method, the birds of prey help to reduce the number of nests on site as the nuisance birds seek to find safer nesting locations.
If tackling a severe problem, you must ensure you contact the experts and do not attempt to solve the problem alone.
Gulls plague at seaside shopping centre
The White Rose Centre in Rhyl, Denbighshire had a problem with seagulls and the high fouling level that was reducing footfall and eliciting a growing number of customer complaints. Cleaning and maintenance budgets were increasing every year, rising to over £1,000 a month during the peak nesting season. With up to a thousand gulls in the car park, the problem had become potentially hazardous. The White Rose Centre car park is close to the main promenade and the weather on the north Wales coast was also a significant factor.
Rentokil installed the Larus Gull Wire system, which is an effective rooftop deterrent that offers an immediate solution to high level infestation areas. The stainless steel wire rope and brackets fitted at close intervals make it impossible for gulls to land.
Stuart McLeod from Rentokil comments, “The Larus system has instant impact. A project of this scale can be complex to deliver effectively and it’s important to get it right. We’re delighted that shoppers have returned to the centre as a result.”

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