Pest birds cause tens of millions of dollars of damage every year to American buildings, machinery, automobiles, roofs, ventilation systems and much more. Bird droppings and nesting materials which are allowed to accumulate pose a host of physical problems which can become very serious if they are not corrected immediately. Professional, prompt and effective bird control is essential.
Damage to Roofs by Droppings Bird droppings are very acidic in nature. They actually eat away at many substrates, especially tar-based roofing materials. Droppings which are allowed to accumulate on roofs will eat into the material and eventually cause leaks. The life expectancy of a warehouse roof can be cut in half by just a light, but continuous, application of bird droppings. The accumulation of pigeon droppings caused a gas station canopy to collapse in Arizona in 2008.
Bird Damage to Roofs by Nests Pigeon, starling and sparrow nests are often built in rain gutters, drains and corners of roofs where drains are located. Several warehouses every year experience great damage, even collapsed roofs, when drainage systems are blocked and standing water is allowed to rise just six inches. A collapsed roof that resulted in death or great physical damage could put a company out of business.
Bird Damage to Machinery Acidic bird droppings can do great damage to air conditioning equipment, industrial machinery, siding, insulation etc. Not only is the equipment being damaged, but workers are exposed to a dangerous health-risk any time they work on or around the machinery.
Fires Started by Bird Nests Nesting materials are usually very flammable due to their construction of straw, twigs and dried droppings. When birds build their nests inside electric signs or other machinery there is a great risk of fire. Electric sign companies blame bird nests for most of their sign fires.
Ventilation Systems Blocked by Bird Nests Bird nests built in chimneys and ventilation systems can not only spread diseases through the system, but can actually block air-flow which can have horrible consequences. A family of five in Cleveland was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning just before Christmas 1995 because the exhaust system of their fireplace was blocked by bird nests.
Automobile Finishes Damaged by Bird Droppings Most bird droppings, but especially pigeon and gull, will fade paint finishes by actually eating into the protective coating and the paint itself. The longer the droppings are allowed to sit on the paint, the more damage it will do.
Damage to Food and Other Products by Bird Droppings Birds flying around the insides of warehouses, airplane hangars, factories and convention centers can wreak havoc. Bird droppings can ruin plastics when they are being molded, they can destroy any number of different chemicals and liquids which are being manufactured, they will ruin new and old paint jobs on aircraft, and they can contaminate food which is being made or packaged. These types of ruined products often cost millions of dollars in waste.
Droppings and nesting materials on or around a building send a message to the public that this building is not properly maintained. One is forced to wonder how clean a restaurant’s kitchen could be if they don’t even care about bird droppings dripping down the sign.
Collapsed Ceilings Pigeons have been known to enter attics of houses, apartments, restaurants and other buildings through openings that have been either broken or never sealed off in the first place. In most cases the pigeons set up homes in these protected areas, build nests and discard their bodily waste. Often the weight of the droppings becomes so great that the actual ceiling collapses. One would guess that this type of occurrence would be extremely random but it happens with alarming frequency.
HowPest Birds Harbor and Spread Disease The five types of infectious agents can be associated with birds in the following ways: the disease lives in the bird and is passed on when the bird defecates; the disease lives in the birds surrounding environment and is spread by the birds lifestyle; the disease lives inside a parasite that the bird harbors. From understanding how the bird harbors diseases we can demonstrate the four ways the diseases are passed by the bird to humans.
Food & Water Contaminated with Bird Feces The most obvious example is when the diseased bird directly defecates into a human food or water source. In the summer of 93, New York faced a health crisis when several hundred people came down with a mysterious ailment. The illness was traced to sea gull droppings in an old city reservoir. Health inspectors are quick to shut down a food processing plant if nuisance birds are found inside. Besides direct contamination, airborne spores from drying feces in air ducts and vents can settle on exposed food and transfer disease. Several thousand cases of food poisoning (Salmonella) every year are attributed to this disease transmission route.
Inhalation of Fecal Dust As bird feces and/or the contaminated soil it rests on, dries or is disturbed, microscopic pieces break off and become airborne. These airborne particles can contain dormant fungi and/or bacteria. When breathed into the lungs, the warm, moist environment of the lung lining provides a breeding ground for the infectious agents. Common symptoms of this type of infection are flu like in nature: coughing, elevated temperature, restricted breathing and general body fatigue, and last roughly two to four days. The vast majority of the time, the bodies defenses will contain the invaders even before minor symptoms appear but in a small percentage of cases, major infection causing long term disability and even death occurs. It is worth noting that there is no known medical cure for internal fungal infections. After the Northridge earthquake, several thousand people came down with flu like respiratory symptoms. The ailment was called Valley Fever and was caused by people breathing in dust and airborne debris filled with histoplasmosis spores and related fungal agents stirred up by the earthquake.
Direct Contact with Bird Feces Infection occurs when a worker or resident gets fecal dust or droppings in an open wound or cut. This commonly occurs when handling old rusty, sharp porcupine wire ledge products which are covered with bird feces. The wound site becomes red, puffy and puss-filled. Antibiotics are often needed to cure the infection. In some rare cases, infection of the blood (Septis) or internal infection can also occur causing serious illness or death. Proper attire and care must always be used when cleaning a bird site or installing bird control products. If a cut or injury occurs, thoroughly wash and disinfect the wound and cover with a sterile bandage to minimize risk of infection.
Parasites Associated with Birds Pest birds harbor ticks, fleas, mites and other ectoparasites. Parasites transfer disease in the following manner. The parasite bites an infected animal and sucks in blood containing the germ. When the bug bites its next victim it passes along the germ to the new victim. This occurs because parasites inject some of their saliva into the host when feeding. Over forty types of parasites live either on the birds, in their nests or in the places they roost. They are responsible for the transmission of several hundred viral and bacterial agents. These diseases include plague, encephalitis, pox and meningitis. Control of these parasites is a crucial phase of the bird control project. Paradoxically, this threat can be aggravated when bird control products are installed. Unless the parasites are exterminated when the birds are excluded from a site, the mites, fleas, ticks etc. will seek a new host, often the human.