by Alex A. Kecskes
Several years ago, during a Detroit Tigers home game at Comerica Park, 60 or so herring gulls descended on the stadium, dive bombing players and fans alike. Were they after the foot-long hot dogs? The ketchup-drenched French fries? The roasted peanuts? No way. They were gobbling up the recently hatched army moths fluttering about the stadium lights.
While in Comercia’s case, it was moths that provided the snacks, more often, our feathered friends will settle for leftovers provided by fans. It’s a scenario oft repeated in open-air facilities around the country. A stadium’s geographic location can also contribute to the problem. In Comerica’s case, it was their proximity to the Detroit River and several other large bodies of fresh water that accounted for the speedy invasion of gulls.
Throughout the country, annoying starlings, sparrows and pigeons have stadium operators on alert as they roost in rafters and other structures that provide shelter, protection from natural predators and, of course, snacks. Regrettably, unlike the moth-hungry gulls in Detroit, sparrows, starlings and pigeons will usually stay for the season, and the longer they entrench themselves, the more stubborn they become.
Aside from being an annoyance, birds cost businesses plenty every year. Bird droppings are unsightly and require cleanup and painting crews to remove or cover up the mess they leave behind. What’s worse, these droppings often cause extensive damage to building windows, roofs, skylights, rotating air vents, and air conditioning units. These birds can also carry and transmit over 60 known transmittable diseases.
So what to do? Some resort to violence using BB guns. One Red Sox urban legend suggested that Boston Red Sox’s Ted Williams would bone up for hunting season by bringing his shotgun to Fenway Park and picking off a few pigeons. The problem with this solution is that it only treats the symptom. By killing off one species of birds, these draconian measures simply make room for other species to nest and breed.
Fortunately, there are more humane solutions to ridding stadiums of pesky birds. These proven bird control methods are more effective that taking up arms against feathered invaders. Products designed to rid pest birds vary in price and scope and fall into the categories of bird deterrents and bird repellents. Among the more popular and effective deterrents for keeping birds out of stadiums are physical barriers, such as netting and bird spikes.
Netting should be non-conductive, UV stabilized and both rot proof and waterproof. Bird spikes will keep birds from landing and nesting. Many come in two foot sections, so they’re easy to install and maintain. Another deterrent, often specified by architects for pigeons and larger birds, is bird wire. It combines low visibility with low maintenance. Then there’s the electric solution-shock track systems. They give curious birds a mild electric shock, yet they cause no harm and are ideal for all varieties of winged pests. One other tactic for dispersing pest birds from open areas is the use of aerosol mists. Bird-B-Gone makes a system ideal for stadiums since it lets you attach up to 64 misters that can be individually controlled.
Cincinnati Reds VP of ballpark operations tried “everything” to chase pigeons and starlings from the club’s Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003. The problem was particularly noticeable at the stadium because most of its steel supports were painted white. After pigeons roosting in highway structures just outside the stadium were driven out, the birds settled in next door to the steel supports of the ballpark’s highest seating level. Every day, crews were dispatched to steam-clean the park’s concourses and power-wash its white beams. Certain areas had to be monitored constantly to make sure pigeon droppings weren’t infiltrating stadium concession areas, which could present safety code violations and cause fans to get sick.
The ballpark tried fake owls and wrapping the steel beams in textured metal. A fastball delivered by Randy Johnson in a 2001 spring training game obliterated a low-flying pigeon. But the only thing that worked was fine-mesh netting. The secret is to totally interrupt the flock’s roosting pattern.
The point is, short of a 100 mph fastball or a shotgun, there are far more effective deterrents and repellents to keep our fine-feathered friends out of athletic stadiums.
For more information on pest bird control systems, contact Bird-B-Gone, Inc. at 1-800-392-6915 or online at www.birdbgone.com. Bird-B-Gone has a national network of Authorized Installers that can help to control all of your pest bird problems.