Birds may be our feathered friends, but they can also leave behind a big mess. For hotels, bird problems can create health hazards and eyesores. Knowing where bird issues are likely to develop can help you create a proactive plan of action to keep your guests and property protected.
Why are birds attracted to hotels?
Birds frequent hotels sometimes more than humans. Many birds are full-time residents. This is because hotels have some unique attributes that can support bird activity. Here are the three main reasons that birds may be attracted to hotels:
- They are often tall buildings that provide a great “view” for birds to survey an area or scout for food.
- With plenty of human traffic, there is ample opportunity to scavenge food.
- Hotel architectural design can provide plenty of protected spaces for birds to nest or shelter.
The problems birds can create at hotels
The presence of birds can cause a number of problems for hotel properties, from damage and guest relations concerns to health and safety issues.
Guest relations concerns. Some bird species can make significant amounts of noise at all hours of the day, disrupting your guests’ stay. They can also leave behind unsightly droppings – on cars, signs, in public guest areas, and worst of all, on guests. These droppings can detract from your brand’s image and create poor guest experiences. Birds can also interrupt outdoor dining experiences, diving for food or lingering around guests who are enjoying a meal. Birds can be especially annoying around outside pools and courtyard areas where water and vegetation are usually present.
Structural and mechanical damage. Bird droppings are extremely corrosive and can damage buildings, signage, and metal supports. Clean up costs for droppings can add to the expense of repairs. Bird feathers and droppings can also damage and clog expensive HVAC filters and equipment.
Health and safety issues. Bird droppings and feathers can transmit pathogens that are dangerous to humans, whether through compromised air quality or food safety risks. Droppings can also create physical hazards. If they amass in walking areas, they can become slick when wet, putting people at risk for falls. The corrosive nature of droppings can loosen structural elements, damage metal supports, or signage. This can expose your brand to risk if anything should fall and injure someone or cause additional damage. Bird nests built behind electrical elements, such as lighting fixtures or lighted signs, can also pose fire hazards.
The cost of implementing an integrated bird management program is significantly less than the loss of business, structural or mechanical repair, or insurance claims that a hotel may face should bird issues lead to larger problems.
The top 12 areas for bird problems at hotels
Hotel operators looking to assess their property’s risk for bird issues can begin with looking in a few key areas. Bird activity in these 12 areas may indicate the need for a more comprehensive inspection by a bird management professional.
- Rooftops – Many hotel rooftops offer great vantage points for birds of all types to roost. This allows them to scout for food below as well as survey their surroundings. Pigeons are often the primary rooftop culprits, but crows and other species can also be problematic. Rooftops may also offer ductwork, overhangs, gutters or protected areas that create perfect spots for birds to shelter themselves or build nests. Flat rooftops can also collect water, which can be attractive to birds for both drinking and bathing. Nests, feathers, and droppings can clog drains, leading to pooling water or to leaks inside the facility, and more.
- HVAC units – HVAC units, often found on rooftops, can offer birds both shelter and warmth. Great for birds – not so great for the mechanics of an HVAC system. Birds, droppings, nests, and feathers can clog these systems, leading to malfunctions and shutdowns. The systems can also intake feathers and droppings and the harmful pathogens they can carry, circulating them into the clean air of a building.
- Parking garages – Tiered parking garages, frequently attached to hotels, offer plenty of nooks, crannies, ledges, pipes, and cabling that are attractive to birds for sheltering against the elements, building nests, and loafing. Unfortunately, birds often deposit droppings on vehicles in their natural course of travel to and from these areas, which can lead to unhappy customers and costly damage repairs. Droppings can also build up where birds congregate, creating an unsightly mess and posing air quality health hazards for passersby.
- Lettered signs – Lettered signs intended to help promote your brand can often become a favorite spot for birds to hang out or build nests. Birds can be spotted sitting inside the letters. Small birds, such as sparrows and starlings, can easily build nests in the metal supports that attach signs to buildings. Lighted signs also offer a source of warmth for birds. While hanging around a lettered sign, birds are leaving droppings behind, which can streak and sully the appearance of the sign or weaken supports.
- Ornate architecture – Similar to lettered signs, the spaces and protected spaces created by ornature architecture provide ideal places for birds to build nests or shelter. Droppings in these areas can corrode stone and brick, leading to costly damage or worse, safety hazards from loosened items.
- Shutters – Small birds, such as sparrows and starlings, can easily squeeze into the spaces between decorative shutters and walls, where they can build nests. This can lead to disruptive noise for guests, as well as unattractive dropping or nesting mess around the shutters.
- Awnings, canopy overhangs, and balconies – Anywhere small gaps create makeshift shelters or can support nesting, birds will find a way to take advantage. Awnings, canopy overhangs, and balconies all provide strong structures and cover. These bird-friendly spaces are perfect for sheltering, nesting, or spotting for food. If they are located near highly-trafficked passages, birds could pose disruptions for guests. The metal supports in these structures can also be damaged by corrosive droppings, creating safety hazards.
- Lighting fixtures/exhaust vents on buildings – Similar to lettered signs, lighting fixtures and louvered exhaust vents are attractive to birds because they provide ideal areas to support small birds to nest. In conjunction with this nesting, they loaf and roost. The presence of nesting material can clog exhaust vents that generate heat and can lead to fire hazards.
- Surface parking lot and poolside lighting – Tall exterior lighting poles on parking areas or poolside areas are a favorite perching spot for birds for as seagulls and grackles. Like hotel structures, they offer a high vantage point for birds to scout for food or generally survey their surroundings. Unfortunately, this can create an issue with droppings on the areas below.
- Water features – Water features of all types can be attractive to birds. Fountains and smaller water features, often found in close proximity to guest entryways, can be a primary bathing and drinking source for birds. Lakes or streams that sit on a property, can attract larger bird species, such as geese. These birds can be aggressive toward humans if they feel threatened or are nesting nearby.
- Outdoor dining areas – The presence of food is a strong attractant for birds. Therefore, outdoor dining areas represent a prime target. Birds may perch on high points around any outdoor dining area or simply hop or walk around on the ground. More aggressive birds may dive and steal food from tables or even out of patrons’ hands. Any droppings that fall in these areas pose a food contamination risk. Just imagine the unhappy customer targeted by bird droppings!
- Trash receptacles and dumpsters – Humans discard many items that birds find useful: food and food debris, scraps of paper and trash that can be used for building nests, and more. Trash receptacles and dumpsters that do not have sealed lids are prime targets for scavenging birds. Spills around these areas that aren’t cleaned up can also be attractive to birds.
Solutions for bird problems
The solution for a bird problem depends greatly on the bird species and why birds are present. Work with a bird management professional to identify the problem and determine the most appropriate solution for your business.
Solutions for bird problems may include:
- Clean up and disinfection – Bird droppings and feathers are difficult to remove and must be removed with safety in mind. Professional clean up services will also consider the materials on which the droppings are present in order to ensure that no further damage occurs to structures, surfaces, or equipment.
- Exclusion – Using netting, screening, or other materials, exclusion is a term used to describe sealing birds out of an area that they are frequenting.
- Perch modification – Perch modification involves installing materials or products that deter birds from using a particular space as their perch. These materials are products are often not visible to the public and do not harm birds.
- Sensory repellents – Sensory repellents can make an area seem inhospitable to birds. Sensory repellents are harmless to the birds and can involve making product applications to a structure or to vegetation in a specific area or the use of green lasers.
- Visual or auditory repellents – These repellent systems utilize loud noises or visual stimuli to make an area inhospitable to birds. Beware of using these repellents without consulting a professional. Birds are intelligent and can quickly become acclimated to these types of repellents if they are not used properly.
Do you have a bird problem?
If you aren’t sure if you have a bird problem, use Rentokil’s 26-point checklist to evaluate your property. If you check multiple boxes in any category, or note bird concerns in multiple categories, you may have a bird problem.
Rentokil’s Bird Management Services Division can assist with implementing any of the above solutions. We would be happy to conduct a full inspection of your property and offer you valuable recommendations for your property. To speak with a bird management expert, call 800.488.9495.