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Seagull: that sounds like a bird that would enjoy life on the coast, right? Despite their name seagulls do seem to be quite partial to life inland and can be spotted in great numbers pretty much everywhere.

Why are there so many seagulls inland?

City squares, high rise buildings, fields and even school yards are places where it is not unlikely to spot a seagull – and in towns and cities that are nowhere near to the sea.

Why have seagulls moved inland?

Of course there are people who suggest the birds are different sorts of gulls that have acquired the ‘sea’ moniker due to their habitat.

Either way, herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls are traditionally known as coast-dwelling birds that feed on the fruits of the sea.

It is a disruption in the ready supply fish, particularly waste, due to changes in the fishing industry that some experts suggest could be a contributing factor in the gulls heading inland.

This is matched by a ready supply of waste food in cities and towns for the gulls to feast on – in particular at rubbish dumps.

Safer surroundings

Moving inland also means fewer predators, particularly on the rooftops of city buildings where the ‘urban’ seagulls tend to make their home.

The combination of a plentiful food supply and a safe nesting habitat has seen the numbers of urban seagulls rapidly increase.

In turn ‘rural’ seagulls that remain on the coast are in decline.

Wherever they live, however, seagulls are scavengers, whether that is stealing chips from seaside tourists or pestering workers enjoying a lunchtime sandwich.

With their numbers continuing to rise in heavily populated cities there is a growing chance that urban seagulls could become a more common pest, particularly for the food industry.

If you are experiencing a problem with seagulls that is affecting your business or home, get in touch with Total Bird Control.

 

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As The RSPB undertakes the annual task of working out what species are enjoying visiting our gardens following the Big Garden Birdwatch it is worth remembering that birds are a wonderful part of nature.

How to attract birds to your garden – but deter pests

While some species may be known more for being pests, there are many others that need protecting and need our help to survive.

In fact protection from ‘pest birds’ is something that will help these other species to thrive.

How to attract birds to your garden

The best approach is to think of your garden as a mini eco-culture that will attract all sorts of wildlife.

  • Put out bird food – this is the most obvious suggestions but the conditions need to be right. Make sure the table is well positioned to keep birds safe from predators and away from any areas where predatory birds could be hiding.
  • Protect lawn areas and allow them to thrive but also consider leaving an area uncultivated to attract insects.
  • Choose bird-friendly plants – trees can offer both accommodation and food to birds so think about making these accessible or adding them to your garden. Fruit trees and berry trees will provide welcome sources of food. Climbing plants on the walls will give birds a place to hide as well as brighten up the garden, while insect-friendly plants will also encourage the garden eco-system to flourish.
  • A bird bath will give birds another reason to visit your garden by offering them a place to have a bath and access clean drinking water.

Protection from pests

It is also important to remember to protect smaller garden birds from larger birds that are commonly seen as pests, such as pigeons. Blackbirds, squirrels and seagulls can also be problematic for garden birds – and your attempts to attract them.

To deter pests, such as pigeons and rats, keep food off the floor and on a food table and remember to clear up the area around it regularly. Also use a bird feeder that has a protective mesh to deter pigeons and squirrels.

Should you experience a problem with pest birds contact Total Bird Control.

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Cleaning up – how to get rid of the mess left by pest birdsThe start of a new year is a time for new beginnings and your attention may turn to improving your property.

The first place to start is usually by clearing out any waste and having a good clean up.

If you have had a problem with pest birds – or still do – there is every possibility that they have left an unsightly mess behind.

Bird droppings are incredibly messy and can cover a large area. More than that they are also difficult to remove and can harbour germs and disease.

Left for long enough they can also damage surfaces so swift action is ideal.

How big is the problem?

How do you begin to start clearing up bird droppings? A lot of it depends on the extent of the problem. In a domestic setting where the owner is dealing with a small amount of bird droppings it can be more easily dealt with.

However, if the house has seen a lengthy problem with pigeons, for example, this could be a much bigger job – particularly in hard to reach areas such as the roof.

Likewise in a commercial setting where birds have been roosting for some time it is very likely there is a large scale problem that will be difficult to get rid of – and could present a health risk if not cleaned up carefully.

Airborne dust from bird droppings if inhaled can lead to serious illness including Psittacosis and salmonella.

What to do to get rid of bird droppings?

Clearing up bird droppings following a problem with pest birds will more than likely need to be done by experts.

Professional decontamination of the area will ensure a high standard of cleaning that will remove tough stains – and will be carried out in accordance with health and safety guidelines to minimise the risk to workers.

For one-off incidents you can usually tackle the mess yourself, but remember to take care over contamination.

  • Protect yourself by using gloves and, if you have one, a mask;
  • Soak the area with warm water to loosen the droppings;
  • If possible use a hose to blast away the remainder or use a spray cleaner and a cloth or brush;
  • Disinfect brushes to remove bacteria or throw away cloths to cut the risk of bacteria spreading when finished.

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Feed the birds without attracting pests this winterFeeding the birds through the cold winter months is something we are often encouraged to do – and with good reason.

Seeing wild birds in the garden is one of life’s pleasures and, of course, by feeding them we are helping to protect the natural world.

At Christmas in particular bird feeding gifts become popular, with festive designs available and even bird food ‘wreaths’.

However, when feeding the birds it pays to consider how to avoid attracting pests into your garden, such as rats or infestations of pigeons.

The right food

Investing in the right food is important. Fat balls are a good winter option, along with mixed bird seed, meal worm and peanuts.

Many household leftovers can also be eaten by birds including bread, cheese, fruit, rice and potatoes. However, mouldy food should be kept away from birds as it can make them ill, while salt can also be toxic to them.

It’s all about presentation

The major factor in avoiding attracting pests to the garden by feeding birds is where the food is put and how much is left out. The RSPB recommends just leaving enough out for one day as any leftover food on the floor could possibly attracts rats.

In the same vein it is wise to avoid throwing food for birds on the floor as this attracts pests. Seed trays at the bottom of feeders help to stop waste being spilt on the floor while hulled seeds also cut down the possibility of food reaching the floor.

Pigeons can be problematic when it comes to feeding birds as they not only take the lion’s share of food, they also dominate the area and deter other birds. The worst scenario is that larger groups of pigeons flock to the garden causing a nuisance.

As pigeons are so much bigger than most wild birds, smaller feeders can prevent them accessing food. Hanging feeders with smaller mesh should work to prevent pigeons – just be aware of what falls on the floor and, if necessary, put a secondary measure in place.

While it is harder to keep pigeons off bird tables, using pieces of string or garden cane as a deterrent works as they do not like to feel as though they are being touched. Spacing the string/ canes out to allow smaller birds in but so that they cause an obstacle for pigeons should help to keep them away.

Don’t let the prospect of attracting pests put you off feeding the birds this winter, a bit of planning should be all it takes.

For advice on dealing with pest birds contact Total Bird Control.

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In the UK, birds are given a good deal of protection under the law.

Is it illegal to move a bird’s nest?

While protection of our wildlife can only be a good thing, legal regulations can make it tricky when dealing with pest birds.

While most wild birds are given complete protection by the law there are a few exceptions to allow for dealing with pest birds – or to cover circumstances out of your control.

 

 

Birds and the law

Britain’s bird laws were put in place to clampdown on activities that saw birds ill treated and killed as a form of entertainment in Victorian times.

Through successive acts of Parliament and wildlife campaigns it is now against the law in the UK to:

  • Kill or injure a wild bird;
  • Have a wild bird in your possession;
  • Stop a bird using its nest;
  • Have a wild bird’s egg in your possession;
  • Keep a wild bird in a cage where it cannot spread its wings.

Separate laws are in place to protect game birds around the shooting season.

So, the answer to the question of can I move a bird’s nest is ‘no’, not at least until the eggs have hatched and the young have flown the nest and there is no risk of any harm.

However, due to problems controlling pest birds it is possible in some circumstances to remove a nest – but only in the case of roof-nesting feral pigeons. In Northern Ireland this extends to house sparrows and starlings.

This sort of action is only ever allowed as a last-resort and must be carried out by an authorised person.

To make sure you always stay on the right side of the law when dealing with pest birds use an expert firm.

Should you have any concerns about birds becoming a pest at your property contact Total Bird Control for help and support.

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Do pigeon droppings pose a health risk?The most unpleasant aspect of unwanted bird infestations is their waste – messy and unsightly, it can also pose a potential health problem.

While no business or house looks good covered in unsightly bird droppings, the potential for spreading disease is far more serious.

It goes without saying that the worse the problem the higher the likelihood of contamination.

Health risks of bird droppings

Psittacosis – also known as parrot fever, Psittacosis, mainly affects birds associated with the parrot family but is also common among pigeons. It is spread to humans by being inhaled through contaminated dust.

Humans contaminated with the disease suffer flu-like symptoms that can include headache, joint pain, diarrhoea, fever and vomiting. It can develop into pneumonia and, if undiagnosed, or untreated can cause serious health problems.

Symptoms take between five and 19 days to take hold after exposure and once diagnosed Psittacosis can be treated with antibiotics.

Salmonella – A form of food poisoning, salmonella can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration. It usually clears up without treatment, although in the case of vulnerable patients or severe dehydration medical intervention may be needed.

Pigeons can carry salmonella, which can be passed to humans if food or water becomes contaminated with bird faeces.

Cryptococcosis – This again can be inhaled through infected pigeon droppings and causes respiratory illness. This fungal disease is very serious in people with a compromised immune system and needs urgent medical attention.

Histoplasmosis – This is another fungal disease that can be spread through infected pigeon droppings and humans become infected by inhaling contaminated spores. The symptoms are described as being similar to the common cold, with no serious illness occurring as a result.

Pigeon droppings are difficult to get rid of safely – power washing for example lifts the airborne disease carrying matter into the air.

The safest option is to call in experts, who will clear the area thoroughly and offer advice on controlling bird infestations.

Contact Total Bird Control today for more information on bird decontamination.

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Watch out for the rules on birds nesting in chimneysSo what exactly is it about chimneys that make them so attractive to birds?

If they are not nesting in them, they are flying down them and getting stuck behind the fire.

Birds are protected and both these scenarios need to be dealt with using care and expertise.

It is not only ‘pest’ species that make themselves at home in the chimney, but the sort of birds a lot of people encourage into their garden with bird tables full of food.

Perfect spot for a jackdaw

Warm, compact and sheltered from the elements, chimneys make a great spot to build a bird’s nest. Particularly popular among jackdaws, birds single out their chimney of choice then begin the work of building a nest by dropping twigs into it.

If you suspect a bird might be making its home in your chimney – repeated journeys, bits of debris – now is the time to act, because once that nest is in use it is too late.

Know the law on nesting birds

Nesting birds are protected by law and it is an offence to try to remove a nest that is in use. Instead you will have to wait until the end of summer to clear out the chimney, with the nesting season running from March to August.

It goes without saying that it would be unwise to try to light an open fire once a nest has been detected. Apart from beaching the law on disturbing nesting birds, smoke would quite probably be pushed back into the house, and in the worst event the chimney could set on fire.

Call in specialist help

The only option once the nest is established is to wait it out then, when the nest is clear, invest in a specialist cowl, which will cover the top of the chimney and shield it from visiting birds in future. The nest will also need to be removed by a specialist, making sure every part is removed for safety reasons.

Unfortunately should a bird choose to fly down your chimney and get stuck behind the fire, it is recommended to call a gas engineer out to move the fire.

For advice about dealing with any bird control issues contact Total Bird Control today.

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Have you ever wondered why pigeons in particular seem to have a taste for urban living?

keep pigeons out of garden

They get chased by young children, run the gamut of bird deterrents and are flapped away by pigeon-phobics, yet still these birds choose concrete buildings, tarmac pavements and steel installations to make their home amid the hubbub of the city.

On the other hand food is plentiful. For every child chasing them away there is a shopper happy to share their crumbs – and herein is one of the main attractions.

A study did once suggest that smarter birds adjust to life in towns and cities as their bigger brains help them to navigate the varied layout and challenges of urban living.

However, it could have more to do with the humble pigeon’s heritage than its brain size or penchant for bakery crumbs.

From cliffs to city skylines – the pigeon’s journey

Descended from wild rock doves, which roost on cliffs and ledges, it is understandable that their feral pigeon relatives enjoy the cold comfort of city high-rise buildings and ledges, which mimic the cliff-side home, but away from the perils of some of nature’s predators.

And it is also no wonder these birds seem to be everywhere – there are as many as 28 million in Europe alone. However, city pigeons do face some of the threats they would out in the wilds being the food of choice for the re-emerging Peregrine falcon population, which also has a tendency to make its home in cities – and of course there are always cats to be considered.

Despite this the much smaller chance of encountering predators in the city is a reason why pigeons thrive in urban areas.

Rich pickings

Not having to work too hard to find food is another reason city living suits pigeons. As well as the food left behind by shoppers there are also plenty of people willing to feed pigeons, despite this thwarting councils’ efforts to reduce the population.

With high rise ledges to perch on, a ready food supply and a lack of natural predators it is no surprise that city dwelling suits pigeons down to the ground.

The lesson to take away would be if you want to keep pigeons off your property, put deterrents in place to make any ledges inhospitable, and make sure all food is cleared away thoroughly.

Contact Total Bird Control today to discuss ways to protect your property from pigeons.

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keep pigeons out of gardenTuppence to feed the birds? Well it could actually cost a lot more than that if legal restrictions have been put in place to tackle a pigeon problem.

The expression made famous by Mary Poppins more than half a century ago has been given a whole new meaning in a number of cases where bird feeders have found themselves on the receiving end of a hefty fine.

While it is not against the law to feed pigeons in the UK, councils do have the capacity to pass their own laws where pigeon populations have become a pest.

What is the law on feeding pigeons?

Pigeon populations thrive by being repeatedly fed by people. While they can also scavenge for scraps, deliberate feeding is the main problem in booming pigeon populations.

Pigeons breed rapidly and roost along with many other birds. The numbers of pigeons that can gather together in a certain area causes problems with the volume of unhygienic faeces they leave behind as well as their intimidating demands to be fed.

The most effective way to remove pigeons from a particular spot is through reducing food and installing anti-pigeon measures.

Stopping problem pigeon feeders

Pigeon problems will continue to persist when certain people are insistent on feeding the birds despite neighbours’ concerns.

However, as birds and their eggs have protected status in British law, councils are taking matters into their own hands, using bye-laws to get around pigeon problems.

One example, that is widely used, is fining people for leaving food waste in an area affected by pigeons, rather than being seen as food left for the birds to eat this is treated as litter and fines swiftly handed out. So, watch out emptying the crumbs of your pasty on the city streets for pigeons to hoover up.

In cases of persistent pigeon feeding, where the birds are causing a problem to neighbours and the community, a council can take action by applying for an order to target the behaviour, such as a community protection order.

Even famous pigeons can’t escape…

The most high-profile anti-pigeon action has got to be at London’s Trafalgar Square, which was historically home to vast numbers of pigeons.

There were so many pigeons at the historic site, it was deemed an uncomfortable experience to visit – and this, along with the £140,000 bill to repair the damage done to Nelson’s Column by the birds led to a bye-law being introduced to ban pigeon feeding. Anyone daring to feed pigeons in Trafalgar Square now does so at the risk of landing a £500 fine.

While pigeon feeders continue to sow the seeds of despair among families and businesses blighted by these pests, those not protected by littering laws need to find a solution of their own.

Make sure you stay on the right side of the law and call for expert advice to tackle pigeons at your property. Contact total Bird Control today.

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Picture the scene: The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze blowing, and all you can hear is the gentle hum of the waves below as you tuck into a well-earned al fresco pub lunch on holiday.

Don’t let customers get into a flap over aggressive seagulls

Then all of a sudden ‘SQUAAARK’, a sudden flap of wings, and there you are face-to-face with a huge seagull intent on devouring YOUR fish and chips.

That’s it, a pleasant lunch has now become a battle of wills. The seagulls hop from table-to-table demolishing leftovers and destroying the ambience, while you wolf your food down or retreat inside.

It’s an inconvenience to be sure, but what if that is your business? And what if those seagulls are deterring customers from making return visits?

Nature and humankind do have to live in harmony and no trip to the seaside in this country is complete without a seagull being spotted – on the horizon preferably.

But when seagulls descend on your business day after day, tackling the problem may have more to do with economic survival. And of course, seagulls don’t only make their home on the coast anymore with more and more making their homes in towns and cities.

Why are seagulls a problem?

Noisy, aggressive and messy, seagulls have been known to attack people, not just their lunches. They also make A LOT of noise, especially during the nesting season (March to September), and speaking of the nests – these block drains and attract parasites.

Then there are seagull droppings, which not only damage buildings with their acidic content, but if there are a large number of birds in the area, can create a public health hazard.

What can you do to stop seagulls being a pest?

Yes, it’s nature at work but none of this is good for business. So, what can businesses (restaurants in particular) do to protect their livelihood?

Seagulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which means they are protected from being harmed. However, property owners can step in and seek the help of bird control experts to keep seagulls at bay. It is not advisable to try to tackle the problem without expert help.

Specialists, such as Total Bird Control can install deterrents, which will make the environment hostile to seagulls.

These measures include installing spikes to deter nesting, netting and wires to prevent access, and in some cases electric systems.

While there is no exact science to removing a protected bird, these measures will help to greatly improve problems businesses are experiencing with seagulls.

When the chips are down, don’t give in to seagull aggression, call in the experts to protect your business. Contact Total Bird Control on 08000 35 1000.