Orlando Pigeon Control at a Car Dealership

01.20.2006 - An Orlando area car dealership called me with a common urban problem: pigeons. The pigeons were roosting in several areas of the dealership, most notably on the raftors in the parking garage and on the concrete wall above the showroom doors. The problem with pigeons is that they eat, which often means that they eventually poop. Pigeon poo is a problem. It's not just unsightly, it's caustic, and corrosive. This means that the pigeon droppings that fell on the cars in the parking facility actually damaged the paint jobs of these new autos. A manager at the dealership told me that several of the cars required multi-thousand dollar paint jobs as a result of the droppings. As for the unsightliness, it did little to bolster the image of the otherwise squeaky-clean dealership. Furthermore, three diseases that humans can contract are known to be associated with pigeon droppings: The first is histoplasmosis, a fungal infection of the lungs, and also cryptococcosis, and psittacosis, which are more rare, and also fungal infections. Regardless, the potential liability in a public setting is too great. The pigeons had to go.

Pigeon control is typically handled in one of three ways, or a combination. First of all, the pigeons can be trapped and removed. Second, they can be removed by lethal means (shot). Third, their habitat can be altered.

It's generally not terribly effective to trap pigeons. Sure, it can be done, and there are several effective pigeon traps out there. The primary problem is that they can't really be relocated. Pigeons have a neat habit of homing in on their original territory. Over say, thousands of miles. Thus, the only effective method of pigeon trapping and removal relies on killing the birds. As is often the case, trapping in a situation like this is futile. You'll never get all the birds, and if the environment is suitable, more birds will come take the place of those you've removed. I suppose, with very high quality trapping and a lot of dedication that the population can be sufficiently abated, but it just seems like a silly approach.

Some wildlife control companies shoot the pigeons where they roost. This usually means going to the area at night with an air-powered pellet gun taking aim at the sleeping birds, and pulling the trigger. This is a sure-fire means of getting them, but it's a bit inefficient, temporary, and redneckish. Again, as with trapping, it's of some usefulness and may have its time and place. The remaining pigeons might even learn that living in the area is bad news, and leave. However, neither method is as good as...

...the third method, which is habitat modification. The pigeons are roosting in the area because the area meets their needs. Basically, if you take away their roosting areas, they can't live there, and will leave. This usually means installing physical deterrents on the perching spots. So for example, if the pigeons are all hanging out on a ledge, cover the ledge with sharp spikes that they cannot land and perch on. Bird repellent and deterrent products include spikes, shock tracks, slippery sloped surfaces, and even sticky glue.

I photographed the above series of photos while on this particular job at the Orlando car dealership. In the upper left is a nesting pair of pigeons roosting in the raftors of the parking garage. The pigeons in the garage were the ones responsible for the damaged paint jobs. In the lower right, we see the outside ledge over the showroom doors, on which many pigeons perched and pooped. In the upper right, we see the view from the boom lift that I rented for this job, in order to reach the tall roosting areas. In the lower right, we see that I've cleaned the ledge and installed two rows of needle strips to prevent any pigeons from ever landing there again. I also installed deterrents in the parking garage to take care of the problem there. Pigeon work isn't glamorous or much fun, but it has to be done.

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Whether you live in the city or in the suburbs, pigeons are one of the most common birds that you will come across. They’re often found in parks, buildings, trees, and bridges. Because they are virtually everywhere, pigeons can become a serious pest problem if not dealt with. In fact, according to many wildlife services, pigeons are the most common bird pests in most areas.

Pigeons can cause a slew of problems including, but not limited to food contamination, damage to exterior buildings and landscape, as well as transmitting diseases. If you are currently experiencing problems with pigeons, especially at a commercial site, and would like to know how to get rid of them, here are some control tactics you can implement to get rid of the pigeons.

Discourage Pigeons and Clear All Attractants
There are many possible actions to take when trying to discourage pigeons from surrounding your building. The first thing to think about is the daily habits you maintain that might possibly attract pigeons and other pests in your area. These habits can include leaving your trash receptacles open as opposed to keeping them tightly secured or leaving open food on the ground near your building, or even lack of general sanitary practices. All of these things can and will attract pigeons to your building. Pigeons are scavengers and will always look for food in forms of scraps and garbage anywhere they can. Dumpsters, open foods, and dirty disposable dishes and utensils are all potential food sources for these birds. It is important to always clean your surroundings as frequently as possible to avoid pigeons flocking to your building. This habit of practice should also include handling spills as a way to further minimize attractants. Also, be aware of the food that you may leave out. Bird feeders should be kept far away from your building and should be cleaned regularly if needed.

Pigeon-Proofing (Modify Your Building)
You can modify areas of your building where pigeons normally frequent to deter them from building nests or staying comfortably. This is known as pigeon-proofing. Areas such as roofs, attics, ledges, gutters, balconies, garages, or other outdoor habitats should be modified and pigeon-proofed to keep pigeons out. Install steel prongs, bird spikes, or barbed wire, around these areas to prevent birds from landing there in the first place. It is also important to ensure that all holes, cracks, and openings in your building are sealed and blocked from entry. Vents are a typical entry point for pigeons to enter buildings. In order to avoid this, be sure to cover up any openings and install screens and netting around all appropriate areas.

Use Repellents
You can also utilize repellents to keep pigeons away from your building. There are many repellents on the market that work well to keep birds away. The two types are natural repellents and chemical repellents. These repellents usually consist of spraying something that pigeons don’t like the smell of to deter them. You can also use visual repellents, which provide a more temporary fix. Visual repellents include scarecrows and reflective bird diverters. You can put these around your buildings to help deter pigeons and other birds.

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