Bird deterrents say `Shoo` to pest birds

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Courtesy of Bird-B-Gone, Inc.

We have a love-hate relationship with our fine-feathered friends. Poets love them. Property managers can do without them. Like anything in this world, too many birds can be a real problem. Suddenly, what was endearing becomes a pest. One that's noisy, messy and damaging to almost everything it lands on. The solution? Bird deterrents.

In days of old, this meant culling by birdshot, trained predator –like hawks, or poisons. Today, thanks to environmentalists, there are far more humane ways of discouraging pest birds. These bird deterrents have come just in time. For today, pest birds have so many more places to perch, nest and wreak havoc. It's no surprise to many that the damage pest birds cause cost businesses and municipalities millions annually. Their droppings contain highly concentrated uric acid, which can alter the color of painted surfaces, permanently stain wood and, over time, erode even metal and stone. Many a stone façade or gleaming bronze statue has been reduced to pitted or crumbling rubble thanks to bird droppings. And many have been saved from this fate by bird deterrents.

Then there are the health hazards that bird droppings create. Bacteria and parasites that live and grow in bird droppings can carry and transmit any of 60 known diseases. Needless to say, keeping bird droppings away from outdoor eateries, parks and public playgrounds, schools and day-care centers can be a crucial first step in preventing the spread of some very serious diseases. Once again, bird deterrents can help keep pest birds at bay and shoo them away.

Thanks to some inventive people, today's bird deterrents are both humane and effective. They run the gamut from high tech to simple and economical. Most can be used in any situation or location and provide relief from a wide range of pest birds.

Perhaps the simplest, most economical bird deterrent is the category of products known as bird chasers. These basically exploit a pest bird's negative reaction to bright things that move, wiggle in the wind, or resemble large open eyes. Ideal for gazebos, overhangs, patios, vineyards, eaves, pools, boats and other open areas, chasers comprise the most basic and affordable bird scare products currently available. They include iridescent reflective foil or flash tape that create an “Optical Distraction Zone.” Also included in this category are inflatable balloons, which startle pest birds with lifelike reflective predator eyes and markings. Bird repellers are still another type of bird chaser. These scare-eye diverters are easy to hang in areas frequented by pest birds. Some of the most effective bird repellers have iridescent foil eyes to scare pests by day and glow-in-the-dark backsides to keep them away at night.

One bird deterrent that has been proven effective is the bird gel. Applied like calk from a calking gun, gels create a sticky surface that birds simply can't stand; yet they're safe for birds (except swallows) and people. Gels are ideally suited for I-beams, parapet walls, ledges, conduit, pipes, and flat or curved surfaces where pest birds like to gather.

Another simple bird deterrent is the Bird Spike strip. Ideal for pigeons and other large birds, they require no maintenance and are easy to install. Some have stainless steel spikes that look menacing but are harmless to birds. Others feature spikes of rigid unbreakable polycarbonate--ideal for areas where electrical conductivity prohibits the use of steel spikes. Bird spikes are particularly useful for rooftops, commercial signs, billboards, and other open areas. Another simple bird deterrent is the Bird Spider. Ideal for boat canvas covers, biminis, radar antennas and other areas, the spider arms come in a variety of diameters and undulate with the breeze, discouraging a wide range of larger pest birds such as pigeons and gulls from landing.

For courtyards, canopies, signs, warehouses, airplane hangars and rooftops, there's Bird Netting. This highly effective bird deterrent discourages many species of birds from landing. Heavy-duty bird netting is most often prescribed by architects. Some brands have ISO 1806 mesh test polyethylene fabric that's U.V. stabilized, flame resistant and rot and waterproof. For many applications, non-conductive webbing is preferred. Netting is usually available in 3/4', 1-1/8' and 2' mesh sizes to deter sparrows, starlings, pigeons, seagulls and larger birds.

Still another relatively low-tech bird deterrent is the Bird Slope. The good thing about this deterrent is its utter simplicity--birds just slide off when they try to land. The angled slippery PVC panels install easily on ledges, eaves, beams and other 90-degree areas where pest birds tend to nest, roost and poop.

Finally, an entire family of higher-tech bird deterrents. Included here are the electric-track products. These are ideal for deterring all types of pest birds. Easily mounted on ledges, signs, rooftops, and flat or curved surfaces, they utilize an electrified track to impart a mild electric shock to discourage pest birds from landing. Once shocked, birds are convinced that the area is definitely not bird friendly, thus altering a bird’s habits to land and nest there. Some low-profile systems are almost invisible. Others feature a flow-through design to prevent water from damming up on rooftops and other surfaces. Opt for marine grade Monel knitted wire, if you can. It's stronger than steel, and highly resistant to corrosion, alkali and acidic environments. The knitted designs have a single strand of higher gauge wire and a tube-within-a-tube design that allows for greater conductivity and enhanced strength.

So there you have it. While there's no shortage of pest birds today, there's also no shortage of bird deterrents to shoo them away.

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