Know The Signs of a "Bird Plague" in Your Home and What To Do About It
“Bird plague” is a term used to refer to the invasion of an urban space by such animals. This can have some negative consequences for people, which we will take a closer look at in this article. You’ll also learn the signs that indicate if there’s a “bird plague” at or near your home and what to do about it.
What is a bird plague?
A bird plague, or bird infestation, is a term that already hints a lot at the problem at this. This concept refers to the fact that these animals take over an urban space to satisfy their needs for shelter, reproduction, or food.
In some cases, they take advantage of the waste generated by people, with whom they live in close contact. It can be a group of varying sizes, from a few tens to thousands. It all depends on the place and the species.
Such a situation can be observed with pigeons, sparrows, starlings, gulls, and even owls, among other species. And in places as varied as the attic of a house, the bell tower of a church, the ceiling of a shopping mall, a factory, or an industrial park.
It’s true that, unlike insects, spiders, or rodents, birds are usually considered beneficial animals by humans since they often make us happy with their song or their colors. Some even hunt and eliminate worms and even cockroaches.
However, the problemisn’t that they look for a source of food and a place to nest, but that in this process they generate situations that affect the normal development of human activity or, even worse, cause diseases, as we will see later.
How do we know if we have a bird invasion?
If we see two birds with a nest in an eave, perhaps there is nothing to worry about. The thing is, most urban birds are usually social. And suddenly, one pair can become many more. For example, pigeons live in flocks with hundreds of individuals.
So you have to pay attention to try to control the problem and avoid the consequences that this brings. Among the signs that may indicate that we have an invasion of birds are the following:
- Continuous chirping and trilling, even of chicks;
- Birds perching or flying off roofs and ledges, without our knowing where they are hiding;
- Fallen nests or materials that seem to have been used to build nests;
- Bird droppings or the smell of bird droppings;
- Visible feathers, some of which are very small, like those of chicks.
It’s a good idea to point out that the places where they usually nest are high and protruding parts, or hollows, niches, and cavities since they try to lay their eggs in places where they are safe from potential predators.
Therefore, we should look for their possible nests in eaves and gutters, under roofs, or between tiles and beams. Also in balconies, disused chimneys, any ledge or overhang. A hole of no more than one inch in diameter is already enough for some birds to get in and out.
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The consequences of a bird plague
It’s important to clarify that not all birds that cohabit with humans are harmful. Some are pollinating species; however, others can cause damage to structures and buildings, as well as transmit diseases.
Damage caused by nests
When nests are located next to drains, the materials used by the birds can accumulate and block the circulation of water, which causes humidity problems. On the other hand, if these animals place leaves and dry straw near electrical installations or machines that heat up, the risk of fire increases.
Damage caused by droppings
The droppings of some invasive birds, such as pigeons, contain a high concentration of uric acid. Therefore, it’s very corrosive, and can even affect everything from wall and car paint to the waterproofing mantle of roofs, causing cracks. It can also damage electrical materials and various machinery and equipment.
In the food industry, birds can eat seeds and other products and defecate on them. This is associated with the transmission of bacteria, such as salmonella.
In pigeon droppings, some species of fungi such as Cryptococcus also reproduce. And when they nest in ventilation ducts, people can inhale this contaminated air, reaching their lungs and causing cryptococcosis, which affects the central nervous system, especially in immunocompromised patients.
Birds usually have mites, fleas, and other pathogens that can migrate in search of new food sources or spaces to reproduce, or be transmitted by various means, affecting people and domestic animals.
We have already mentioned the case of salmonella, which causes salmonellosis and paratyphoid fever; but there are also other diseases, such as:
- Ornithosis or psittacosis (also called pigeon breeder’s lung); it’s transmitted by inhaling a bacterium present in dried droppings or feathers.
- Avian influenza (Newcastle disease); also transmitted by feces and other pigeon excretions.
- Gastroenteritis and septicemia are caused by Escherichia coli, which can be spread by gulls.
- Allergies caused by mites.
- Other fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis.
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Damage caused to companies
A bird pest damages companies due to maintenance and cleaning costs, as well as possible losses of raw materials or finished products. Workers are also at risk of becoming ill.
How to control a poultry pest?
To prevent or control bird pests, it’s necessary to be attentive to the signs mentioned above and take the necessary measures to have a clean and safe home or workspace.
The control of these animals is developed by following several actions and strategies, such as:
- Inspection for diagnosis of the situation, identifying nesting and feeding sites, population size, habits, and damage to structures.
- Elimination of food and water sources, which, in some cases, can solve the problem without major efforts.
- Modification of the space to keep birds away and prevent them from returning; this means preventing access, using nets, or modifying ledges and ledges.
- Use of repellents or substances that can affect birds by smell, sight, or sound.
- In some countries, the use of toxic substances (avicides) to reduce the population is permitted. However, this is not the best thing to do, since it goes against the respect we must show to the other species that coexist with us on the planet.
What you can do to prevent a bird plague
It’s possible to take some measures to prevent these animals from nesting and breeding in homes or workspaces. For example, you should deposit organic waste in closed containers, to eliminate possible sources of food; and keep an eye on roofs, ceilings, and cornices, sealing any holes where they can enter and nest.
If you think there are signs that indicate a possible invasion, it’s a good idea to call bird control specialists. They know what to do and act within the framework of what is legally permitted, without causing damage to property or animals and by using the appropriate technological resources and methods.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Hogerwerf, L., Roof, I., de Jong, M.J.K. et al. (2020). Animal sources for zoonotic transmission of psittacosis: a systematic review. BMC Infect Dis, vol. 20(192). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-020-4918-y
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- Medina, I., Fuentes, L. & Arteaga, M. (2017). Pigeons and their droppings as reservoirs of Candida and other zoonotic yeasts. Revista Iberoamericana de Micología, vol. 34(4), pp. 211-214. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28720316/
- Vallejo Timarán, D., Benavides Melo, C., Chaves Velásquez, C., Morillo Caicedo, M., & Castillo Ceballos, A. (2016). Aislamiento de Cryptococcus neoformans en heces de palomas (columba livia) en el casco urbano del municipio de Pasto, Colombia. Biosalud, vol. 15(1), pp. 62-71. http://vip.ucaldas.edu.co/biosalud/downloads/Biosalud15(1)_7.pdf