Q&A with a bird control professional

Jim England, CEO at Protex Pest Control, reveals some of the things the Protex Bird Control Team see on a daily basis.

What are the most common bird control issues you deal with each day?

In London, feral pigeons cause the most common bird problems.  The tall buildings often have lots of window ledges and balconies that attract pigeons for perching and nesting.  We are often contacted by worried business owners who are losing customers due to the number of pigeons nesting near their property.  And where there are pigeons, there will be pigeon droppings.  Pigeon droppings, commonly known as guano are corrosive and can damage metals, brickwork, and stonework.  We’ve seen serious damage caused to historical buildings that could have been avoided if the problem was treated sooner. 

What can these businesses do to stop the birds from perching or nesting on their property?

There are a range of bird deterrents available and we’d advise on the best one when we’ve visited the site.  These range from bird gels, anti-perch spikes, bird wire and bird netting.  We would always recommend that if you need a bird deterrent, to call a professional pest control expert.  We’ve been called in to sort out situations where bird netting was used, but it wasn’t the right type and it wasn’t installed in the correct way.  As a result, birds were becoming trapped and injured.  A professionally installed bird deterrent should be discreet, effective and not cause any harm to the birds.

When should a property owner install a bird deterrent?

The feral pigeon is not fussy when choosing where to build its nest if there is food and water nearby. If a property has anything that can be a perch for a pigeon, then they should consider a deterrent before a problem occurs.   Pigeons will breed all year round, so once they find a spot where they can build a nest, and there is access to food, it won’t take long for the numbers, and the mess, to grow out of control.

What is the worst damage you’ve seen to a building?

The worst cases are usually where a building is derelict and the pigeons and other pests such as mice and rats have been able to reproduce over a long period of time.

There was a property we visited in the South of England, that had been left for quite a while and it was in a bad way.  Every room was thick with guano.  You can see a short video of that one on Linkedin.  Thankfully most occupied buildings don’t reach this state. 

We also helped a client who lived in an apartment block.  A neighbour was feeding the pigeons and it was attracting a large colony to the area.  Our client was almost a hostage in his own home. He couldn’t open his doors as the pigeons kept entering.  We were able to install a net to stop the pigeons from entering his private area.   You can see a short video of how we were able to help on Linkedin.  

Isn’t it illegal to feed pigeons in London?

You can no longer feed feral pigeons in Trafalgar Square.  In 2003 the mayor banned it, because it was getting out of control and had become an unwanted tourist attraction.  Anyone feeding the pigeons in this area can be fined and may even face prosecution.  But even where it’s not set in law, feeding pigeons is discouraged.   The example above, highlights exactly why it’s not a good idea!

What are your top tips to anyone worried about birds nesting on their premises?

Firstly, do not try to get rid of birds from your property yourself.   A bird control expert will ensure the right bird deterrents are installed correctly, will be effective and won’t hurt or trap the birds.   Also, in the UK, wild birds and their eggs are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. 

Do not leave food uncovered or outside.  This includes animal food.   You should ensure any food waste is stored in bins with lids.  

Finally, act quickly and contact us for help, as the adage goes, ‘a stitch in time saves nine!’.

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