Bird Pest Control

Advice on bird pest control: pigeons, gulls and other birds

Wild birds, and their eggs, are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This includes all birds in your garden or amenity areas. Indeed, many local businesses now create wildlife gardens or walkways to attract birds and other wildlife, specifically to improve the amenity of their land.

But when birds roost in or around your property they can cause serious problems and then become a pest. Read on for more information on dealing with Pigeons, Gulls, Starlings and House Sparrows – all potential pests in their own ways.

The most common birds to cause problems in urban areas are feral pigeons. In fact, even Wood Pigeons, with their pleasant and distinctive cooing, can be real pests in rural areas. It’s not just the pigeon poo, or their mass gatherings in town centres that can be dirty or frustrating. Did you know that pigeons harbour more than 110 pathogens?

Research suggests that wild birds can also pass on a number of diseases to humans: some of the more common include:

  • Chlamydia psittaci (Ornithosis)  Salmonella spp.
  • Cryptococcus neoformans Escherichia coli
  • Histoplasma capsulatum  Campylobacter jejuni
  • Allergenic particles (bird fancier’s lung) Listeria monocytogenes                                                                                                                                                                    Vibrio cholera

Many people find that dried pigeon poo in particular can trigger respiratory complaints, as it creates particles that circulate in the air.

Research suggests that up to 49% of feral pigeons could be infected with Chlamydia psittaci, which causes a condition in people called Ornithosis. It can cause chills, fever, sweating, severe weakness, headache, blurred vision and even pneumonia.

The best way to get rid of pigeons is to remove any source of food.  Most importantly, never directly feed pigeons! But also cover bins, clean up spills, and generally restrict their access to potential food sources.

Hanging nets or fixing small spikes to rails and ledges can stop pigeons perching and roosting in structures but any netting should be professionally fitted, as it must ensure that no bird can be trapped.

Scaring techniques rarely work, and lethal control is only an option when a bird has entered a food premises or overcome the proofing measures. In fact, you must first obtain a wildlife licence (general or individual), issued by an appropriate government department*, before any cull.

Better, instead, to call in professionals such as ourselves.

In truth, culling pigeons is rarely successful in reducing numbers unless you also act to restrict access to food. Other ways to control birds include:

  • Electric bird wire
  • Non-toxic optical bird gel
  • Laser deterrents
  • Shock stripes
  • Audible scares.

Gulls, house sparrows and starlings have the potential to carry food-borne diseases, just like pigeons. It is therefore essential to keep them away from premises used by food manufacturers or distributors too.

All birds also have the potential to cause real problems on airfields. Bird strikes – while rarely fatal – can damage aircraft. But if flocks are proving a nuisance, then we can help with a variety of approaches.

Damage to property and brickwork

You can save money in the long run by investing in a scheduled bird management contract. It can help avoid problems that can occur through:

  • Naturally acidic bird droppings, which can corrode and erode metals, stonework and brickwork.
  • Nesting materials, which can block chimneys, flues and guttering, and lead to internal issues with carbon monoxide concentrations or damp caused by blocked guttering.
  • A poor image for any business, if buildings are left covered in droppings. Note that in the UK, leaving birds to infest a food business is a violation of the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995, and could result in your prosecution.

A quick word on Gulls

Large gull populations can be found anywhere there is available food, not just near the coast. Gulls fly huge distances to scavenge for food, but protection such as nets and spikes are just as effective at deterring gulls as pigeons.

Starlings roost on ledges and in city centre trees, in their thousands. Their droppings deface and erode stonework and make pavements slippery. The most effective measures in preventing nesting are proofing with nets, and fixing mesh over entry points. This work should be carried out by a professional pest controller, subject to having obtained an appropriate wildlife licence (general or individual). Starlings must never be killed unless a special licence is issued by a government department.

Sparrows can enter a building through tiny gaps and once in they’re tricky to shift. They are regularly an issue for commercial premises such as bakeries and warehouses, and pose a significant risk to food factories, warehouses and supermarkets. Proofing with nets and blocking of entry holes are the preferred measures used by professionals. As a last resort, the sparrow can be physically removed from buildings using nets and traps, then released off-site.

  • Birds control licences and the law

A wildlife licence to cull birds can be issued by Scottish Natural Heritage, or in England & Wales by Natural EnglandNatural Resources Wales, or the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

The law only allows professional pest controllers to deal with certain species so you should always consult with a professional before you consider any form of bird control measures.