Last week I spent a day with Declan Gibbons, a Rentokil bird consultant and surveyor, Roger Maskell. Declan is an expert at deterring pigeons or seagulls from nesting or roosting on someone’s property because they are causing damage or dropping great quantities of slippery guano.
To most people, myself included before I started to work for Rentokil, I always thought that pigeons were mildly charming in the way they bobbed up and down as they walked. In the park I liked the company they provided as they pecked at the crumbs. But when you work for Rentokil and see the mess pigeons create before it’s cleaned up you start to see how important bird management is.
Just take a look at the photo of this handrail leading to the car park of a leading supermarket. I would be seriously unhappy, not to mention at risk from a number of nasty diseases if I happened to place my hand anywhere on that stair rail. Gross.
Declan quickly assessed the problem and located the pooing pigeons within the roof. The solution was to place some spikes so the pigeons couldn’t sit on their favoured spot and defecate onto the three flights of stairs below. Imagine how slippery that would get in the rain. The health and safety implications just don’t bear thinking about.
“There are lots of solutions for deterring birds from your property,” says Declan handing me a brochure. It’s about 100 pages and full of different sized spikes and wire. A plastic birds of prey catches my eye. “Do these actually work? Are pigeons that easily fooled? ” I asked.
“Different birds need different solutions,” Declan explained. Generally if the fake birds move they will act as a deterrent – for a while. Then one day the pigeons will realise, so then you need a long term solution like wiring. We only offer stainless steel wire which lasts for years and years and all our work is guaranteed. To get the right solution you need to understand too why the birds are there. Is is a habit? Is there a food source near-by? What deters some birds won’t deter others.”
Back in the car on the infamous Bath Road which runs through Slough Declan pointed to the rooftops of houses and commercial premises of mighty blue chip companies. Suddenly I noticed netting, wiring and spikes topping roofs and covering windows.
I haven’t been able to stop noticing since. I went to Berlin at the weekend and morphed into Declan by pointing out bird control solutions. Only a trained eye would spot it but the statues and pigeon friendly shelf at the top of this building have been covered with black netting to stop the birds from landing and corroding the 18th century stone with guano. “Oh!” commented my probably uninterested friend when I imparted this nugget of information. “I thought it was to stop the statues from getting nicked.” Bird wiring does actually work as an statue-thieving deterrent too but thank goodness the hotel didn’t have any bed bugs or else I would have been in my element for weeks and I don’t think my friends would have let me go on holiday with them again.