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PEST PULSE: BIRD MANAGEMENT

Our Pest Pulse survey asked readers to tell us about their experience with bird management. How many pest managers undertake work in this sector? Find out here.

 

Bird management is a profitable and growing segment of the pest control market. However, it’s a segment of the market that many pest control companies ignore. In our latest Pest Pulse, we took a snapshot of the bird management segment.

The number of respondents to the survey was around 20% lower than previous surveys and probably reflects the lower number of pest companies offering bird management services. Nevertheless, the survey revealed some interesting insights on the pest birds across Australia and the bird control products used.

Pigeons are without doubt the number one pest bird in Australia. Ninety-five per cent of respondents identified pigeons as one of their top three pest birds and 87% of pest managers named pigeons as the bird that generates the most business.

The Indian myna and common starling were named in the top three pest birds by around 50% of pest managers and the house sparrow and welcome swallow named by approximately a quarter of pest managers. Seagulls and a range of native bird species such as corellas, also got a mention (Figure 1).

 

Figure 1: Which are the top three bird pests?

 

Although pigeons were the number one pest bird in all states, there were some variations between states in the prevalence of the other pest birds. Starlings appeared to be more of problem in the southern states, while the Indian myna, although widespread, appeared to be more of pest in NSW. The welcome swallow was mentioned by a higher percentage of pest managers in Queensland.

Bird management work is one of those market segments where pest managers may outsource some of the work, particularly if working at height is involved or shooting is decided upon as the best control option. However, from this survey, nearly 85% of pest managers carry out all of their own bird management work.

Traditionally bird management work has been more focused on commercial accounts, but with the large number of solar systems having been installed on residential properties over the last two decades, there is an increasing amount of residential bird work. According to the respondents, around 60% of their bird work was from commercial accounts. In commercial accounts, respondents indicated that, on average, 12% of business was related to solar panel protection but in residential accounts, solar panel protection accounted for a third of the work.

Pest managers are often called in to carry out bird control due to the mess generated by the birds. However, it was interesting to find out that nearly 80% of pest managers do not o er solar panel cleaning services and on non-solar work, nearly a third of pest managers do not o er any cleaning or nest removal services. Removal of nesting material is generally recommended if it can be reached as it can give rise to bird mite issues in the property. However, bird mess cleaning services can be a challenge, especially where there are large amounts of droppings. Not only does the removal require industrial cleaning equipment, but appropriate safety precautions need to be taken. Although 45% of pest managers do provide bird hygiene services on small jobs, around 15% of pest managers will sub-contract to a commercial cleaning company on the larger jobs.

A range of products are available for bird exclusion and repellency. The type of product depends on the area to be protected. However, when asked what their top three exclusion products were for ledge protection, pest managers had a clear preference for stainless steel spikes, mentioned by 77% of respondents followed by netting, which was mentioned by 49% of respondents (Figure 2).

 

Figure 2: Which are the top three preferred products for ledge exclusion?

 

Both sound and visual repellents were regarded as relatively ineffective. Only 23% of respondents believed sound devices worked at least some of the time and 33% of respondents thought visual repellents had some effect. Of the visual repellent products used, Eagle Eye got the most mentions. That said, 40% of pest managers had never used sound devices and 20% hadn’t used visual bird deterrents.

Bird management can be a profitable growth opportunity for pest managers, but it does require a good understanding of bird behaviour and how to utilise the wide range of products available.