small bird issues

5 ways to prevent small bird issues at your store

Kim Lewis

Ahhh, spring! Flowers are in bloom. Trees are budding. The sun is shining. And birds are chirping. While most people enjoy these signs of spring, for retail store owners and operators, spring can bring with it concerns about small birds, such as sparrows or starlings, invading their properties.

However, there are a few easy ways that your staff can work to deter problems with these types of birds at your store.

Problems posed by small birds for stores

There are a number of potential problems that small birds can pose for retail stores.

  • Fire hazards

Small birds, such as sparrows, have a biological inclination to “stuff” their nesting materials into small gaps. This helps them keep their nest protected. Unfortunately, some of the spaces where they stuff materials can be close to light or electrical fixtures. This can create a potential fire hazard when dry nesting material is close to a heat or spark source.

  • Soiled signage

One of the top places sparrows and starlings like to build nests and spend time is near signage attached to buildings. The process of attaching signs to buildings often leaves the perfect sized “gaps” for birds to nest. The nesting materials sticking out of the sign can make signs appear messy or unattractive. The height of these signs also gives birds a great vantage point for scouting for food, making them ideal places to hang out. While on the sign, birds leave behind droppings, which can streak or buildup on the sign – once again leaving them unattractive.

  • Food contamination

For food stores, contamination can be an issue – especially if small birds get inside. This happens more often than you think, thanks to automatic sliding doors. Once a bird is inside, it can be difficult to get them out, especially if food sources are plentiful. Droppings and feathers can be a contamination risk when a bird is flitting about inside a store. This can also be a concern in outdoor dining areas, which are becoming increasingly popular as grocery stores evolve.

  • Safety and public health concerns

Droppings can accumulate in areas where birds routinely congregate. For retail stores, this can create a problem when droppings fall onto walkways. These accumulations can become slick and slippery when wet, creating a fall hazard. Bird droppings also carry a number of pathogens, which can impact air quality.

small bird in trash

5 ways to prevent small bird issues

With a few simple steps, you can drastically reduce the chances that your store will become a target for small bird problems.

  1. Keep loading dock doors closed when not in use. Birds often get into facilities in the same way that humans do – through open doors. This is especially true in loading dock areas, where roll-up doors left open for long periods of time often give easy access to birds. It’s best to keep doors closed when not in use.
  2. Keep trash and dumpster areas clean. Small birds will capitalize on the food and debris that humans cast away. Clean up any food spills right away. But it’s not just food – these birds will snag paper, plastic, or other materials to use in their nests, too. Anything available to them is fair game. Ensure that dumpsters have a tight-fitting lid and that exterior trash cans are equipped with self-closing lids. Assign staff members to ensure that these areas are clean or add an inspection of these areas to your daily checklists.
  3. Use signs to prevent bird feeding / educate employees. Feeding birds is a past time that many people enjoy. Birds learn behavior, so if someone is going to feed them, they’ll keep coming back. The closer birds are to your store, the more likely they are to become a problem, taking up residence there or getting inside. Use signage to ask people not to feed the birds. If you staff members make a habit of this, educate them as to why it can be problematic for the store.
  4. Perform an exterior inspection. At least twice annually, perform an exterior inspection of your building and look for places that birds may nest. Signs, awnings, lighting fixtures, corrugated sheet metal, and more can all provide ideal nesting spots. Look for signs of bird nesting or activity. Seal any gaps and cracks that could provide entry.
  5. Talk to a bird management professional about exclusion or deterrents. If you’ve tried all of the above and birds are still a problem for your facility, talk to a bird management professional about exclusion or humane deterrents. There are many solutions that a professional can put in place, from netting and sealing areas to using sensory or visual deterrents to keep birds away from your property.

small bird management

Don’t undertake bird management on your own

Bird management can be a tricky area for businesses. Many bird species are protected by local, state, and even federal laws. Therefore, attempts to remove them on your own can lead to expensive fines and other punishment. It’s also important to ensure that any bird management measures you undertake are done so humanely.

Highly-visible bird management efforts can also attract unwanted public and media scrutiny. Birds are generally viewed by the public as friendly creatures.

Failure to undertake bird management in the right ways can lead to unwanted, negative attention for your brand. That’s why it is best to partner with a bird management professional. Be sure that the firm you select has proven experience working with birds.

Need help with a bird issue? Did you know that Rentokil has an entire division dedicated to integrated bird management? Give us a call at 1-800-488-9495, ext 20302 and we’ll be happy to come to your location and do a free assessment.

Kim Lewis
Kim Lewis

Kim Lewis is Rentokil Steritech’s Division Manager of Bird Management Services. Kim has spent more than 30 years working with high-profile companies to implement safe, humane, and discreet bird management solutions. In addition to managing a staff that works across North America, Kim also has had the opportunity throughout his career to work with bird control product manufacturers to help perform product efficacy testing. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Kutztown University. In his spare time, when not looking for birds, Kim enjoys the outdoors, hunting, fishing, boating, and spending time with his six granddaughters.

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