A review of Bird Free Optical Gel, a unique bird repellent product, after one year on the market in Australia.

A year since its launch onto the Australian market, Bird Free Optical Gel has become a popular option with both pest managers and cleaning and property maintenance companies.

Incorporating the gel into their bird control methods, feedback from pest managers on its effectiveness has been overwhelmingly positive according to Kane Millerd from Bird Free Australia, and with its recent APVMA label extension to include starlings and mynah birds to the already proven pigeon performance, its expanded reach will likely broaden its appeal.

The noise and mess associated with roosting and nesting birds can cause quite a disturbance, not to mention the potential associated health issues. With its unique, solid gel formulation pre-dosed into dishes for quick and easy placement, Bird Free Optical Gel repels birds by tapping into their innate avoidance behaviour to fire. Containing unique polymers that reflect ultraviolet light, the product appears like a flame to birds. Dishes can be placed on vertical surfaces and in temperatures up to 50°C without running.

Bird Free is a humane control technique as it doesn’t harm birds, it merely keeps them from structures by altering their behaviour, rather than presenting a physical barrier. “Birds will completely desert a habitat, even one they have been using for years, when our product is applied,” Mr Millerd said. “For long-standing roosts, they may try and return for a day or two before vacating the site for good – as long as Bird Free remains in place.”

Exit sign covered in bird droppings
Exit sign covered in bird droppings before installing Bird Free Optical Gel
Exit sign a couple of days after installation of Bird Free

Trials in Europe have been conducted by Dr Anna Gagliardo of the Department of Biology, University of Pisa, a world-renowned ethologist with regards to bird behaviour. Based on the efficacy tests conducted by Dr Gagliardo, the protocols of which were specified by the UK Health and Safety Executive, Bird Free is now the only bird repellent gel authorised for use in the EU under Regulation (EU) 528/2012, which governs the use of biocides. As the polymer is very stable, the repellent properties can be very long lasting provided the product remains in place. In the UK and Europe, some sites have remained bird free for five years without maintenance.

Bird Free can be easily installed using a mounting base, sign clips, or a simple cable tie

Here in Australia, Bird Free has conducted its own trials at 30 sites throughout Australia, which experience temperature ranges of between just below zero to nearly 50°C. Bird Free was installed between two and three years ago at these sites, and as of today all sites remain free of pest birds. When using the product, Mr Millerd says it’s important to ensure all surfaces are clear of nests, droppings and other organic debris prior to installation. “Failure to do so will impact performance, and the use of biocidal cleaners, such as those provided by Bird Free, is highly recommended.”

Ulan Open Cut Mine before and after the installation of Bird Free Optical Gel: a huge amount of droppings coated the beams where bird spikes had failed to prevent birds roosting (top); Bird Free Optical Gel installed on the beams, which remain free of birds (above)

Bird Free is available in two different dishes: a standard or a magnetic version. The standard version is applied to surfaces with a quick dab of silicone or using the Bird Free mounting bases and sign clips (available separately). The magnetic version allows for quick and easy placement on metal surfaces. This flexibility in placement and its discreet profile has allowed Bird Free to be used to protect a variety of buildings and structures where bird control has been problematic in the past.

Ulan Open Cut Mine located in the Mudgee region of NSW has installed Bird Free gel in a number of areas following issues with swallows, pigeons and mynah birds.

“We initially installed Bird Free gel in the administration area of Ulan Mine, and were extremely happy with the results,” explained Geoff Bennett, surface co-ordinator of Ulan West Underground.

“As it worked so well, we decided to replace previously installed bird spikes with Bird Free gel. The spikes had done nothing to deter the birds from roosting and heavily soiling the area, and the mess was becoming a health issue. Bird Free gel is easy to install and works, even in the harsh conditions of a mine site. Our sites have remained clear of birds, so we’ll be installing this in more areas now we’ve seen what it can do.”

For more information, including installation manuals, visit the Bird Free website or a Globe Pest Solutions store. Those enquiring from New Zealand or the Pacific regions should get in touch via the Bird Free website.

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