Bird Control – Serious Business for Hospitals
For 26 years Frank Sorentino has managed the outside structures and grounds of the Beaumont Hospital 106 acre complex in Royal Oak, Michigan. The main campus sits on approx. 115 acres. Seventeen separate buildings occupy the site with the Main building just over 10 stories high. In addition 3 parking decks are also located around the facility, providing parking and enough nesting sites for more birds than you can imagine.
. Bird control is an ongoing project for Sorentino and his crew. “Birds have been a problem since day one,” says Sorentino. “Back in 1988 with the first parking structure, we encountered an enormous bird problem. It was a mess. Pigeons and Starlings and Sparrows had found that the 4-story structure made a perfect bird house. Their droppings were all over the walls and floors—it was staring at every hospital visitor and patient. Talk about first impressions! Obviously, bird control had become a priority for me right from the start.”
Sorentino researched various forms of bird control, from sticky gels, solar devices, balloons, radar gadgets, and finally, pigeon spikes. “At first I tried the sticky gel but found that it weathered too fast and dust and dirt accumulated on the surface of it causing an unsightly mess. This, combined with the high labor cost associated with the product, forced us to look elsewhere.
Next, I tried some of the plastic bird spikes but they were a joke,” said Sorentino. “The birds laid their nests right on top of the plastic spikes which provided too much surface area and not enough “poke”. I had to rip it all out. I’ve tried just about everything. Even radar—but not only was the radar ineffective, it interfered with some of the hospital’s infra-red equipment so that was a bust.”
Finally, Sorentino installed Nixalite’s Premium bird spikes. “This was back in 1988 and we’ve been ordering bird spikes from Nixalite every year since. In many areas of the complex, we are dealing with smaller birds such as Starlings and Sparrows, which are able to nest between the larger pigeon spikes. So we always order the Premium Nixalite because the spikes are closer together and point in different directions, preventing the pigeons as well as the smaller birds from roosting.”
Sorentino admits he also has used some other devices to help control the birds, such as 3-D birds with moving eyes and plastic owls and hawks. “I thought they were helping but now, 19 years later, all that remains is the Nixalite. And it’s still doing the job,” he adds.
Vegetation also has to be considered, according to Sorentino. “No matter how much we keep the birds off our structures, they love trees and other vegetation. We’ve had to re-think what kinds of trees we use in our landscaping near the hospital buildings. For instance, fruit trees and fragrant trees really attract the birds and we end up with droppings everywhere. We have had to refrain from planting crab apples and Bradford Pears because they are such favorites of the birds.”
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning ducts on rooftops are another important consideration for bird control—especially at hospitals, according to Sorentino. “The pigeons go to the air handlers—the HVAC vents on the rooftops. When dried bird droppings turn to dust and get sucked into the HVAC system, you’re dealing with the potential for spreading more than 60 diseases throughout the hospital. It’s just not an acceptable risk. We’ve used Nixalite spikes around the HVAC ducts where there are particular concentrations of birds, and it’s working pretty well.
“I monitor the Bird population throughout the seasons. When it reaches a certain threshold we apply avicides to control the population. This procedure is always a delicate matter as the birds succumb to the poison. We try to stay on top of it, so as not to portray a negative visual image with deceased birds.
“I mean, we have 10,000 employees at the complex—it’s a virtual city. I would love to cover every rooftop with Nixalite, but the area is just so vast. We have a steady budget to add some Nixalite each year.”
When asked if Sorentino plans to continue installing Nixalite at Beaumont Hospital, he says, “Absolutely. Bottom line—Nixalite does what it is supposed to do.”
Beaumont Hospitals' 1,061-bed hospital in Royal Oak is a major teaching and referral center and is the only Level I trauma center serving Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan. It is listed under 10 medical specialties on U.S. News & World Report's lists of the '2006 Best Hospitals.'