Fall is an important time for bird management in commercial facilities since most species of protected migratory birds head south for warmer climates and abandon their nesting sites. Control efforts – including deterrents and exclusion work – should be performed during this time to prevent the birds from returning in the spring and re-establishing nesting sites.
Bird work can often exceed a client’s normal operating budget for traditional pest management services and should be planned for in advance.
Keith Rowney, Sprague Pest Solutions’ special services manager and certified bird control specialist, says fall is a good time for commercial clients to examine capital expense budgets and determine what is needed for next year or if there is money left in this year’s budget complete unfinished projects.
“Even though the birds may have vacated their nesting sites in your facility, out of sight should not mean out of mind when it comes to bird management,” says Rowney. “Doing partial or stop gap measures will not deliver an effective deterrent or exclusion program and leaves your facility at risk.”
Rowney says when facilities add up the costs of power washing and cleaning, replacement of corroded fixtures and the cost of spoiled product, budgeting a comprehensive bird management program makes sense.
Birds are unique problem in commercial facilities because they can easily navigate between facilities that are miles apart and deliver pathogens (in their droppings) that contain harmful bacteria including listeria, E. coli and salmonella that can be brought inside a facility on the sole of an employee’s shoe or land on food ingredients or preparation areas if the birds gain access inside.
More restrictive audit standards brought on by the Food Safety Modernization Act will require commercial facilities pay closer attention to their bird management programs.
“In the past bird control was often overlooked when it came to third-party audits but with increasing pressure from regulatory and audit requirements to safely steward food and packaging materials from farm to table, making sure birds do not pose a threat to your facility and its contents is essential,” says Rowney.
One species of bird that is of particular concern even though its slight physical appearance doesn’t look threatening is the house sparrow. Sparrows are the number one structural bird pest for incursions in warehouses and retail facilities, and are known carriers of Campylobacter, the most common bacterial cause of diarrhea in the United States.
More than 2 million cases are reported each year and it is estimated that approximately 100 persons with Campylobacter infections die each year.
This non-native, unprotected species can go virtually unnoticed because of its size and habit of nesting in small out of the way locations such drop ceilings, soffits and eaves, and inside light fixtures. They will create holes in walls and ceiling insulation especially around utility intrusions to established well-protected nests.
“Sparrows can easily nest out of sight within a large warehouse, logistics or retail facility, and can breed year around if they find a heated, secure nesting location, and reliable sources of food and water,” says Rowney.
The most effective management method for sparrows in warehousing and retail facilities is to physically exclude them. This means performing basic maintenance including repairing openings in ventilation and window screens, installing air doors, repairing broken windows, fixing roofs and installing quality netting materials.