Urban environments often attract pigeons, sparrows, crows, gulls and starlings. For facility owners, these birds create a range of problems — from the cost of cleaning their waste to the potential health issues associated with their droppings.

Jan/san distributors say facilities with a bird population should not take the associated health issues lightly. A recent study found two types of bacteria, highly prevalent in the pigeon population, that cause illness in humans — in fact, one is considered the primary pathogen for acute diarrhea in the world. Avoiding direct contact with bird droppings might not be enough to prevent infection, though, as bacteria can also be dispersed through the air.

Not only do birds carry more than 60 transmittable diseases, their droppings are corrosive and can cause extensive and expensive damage to buildings. Birds can also be a potential liability, as people have sued for millions of dollars as a result of falling and slipping in bird waste.

How to evict the birds from buildings is a problem many facilities face across the country. It is a sensitive issue because facilities can’t simply eliminate birds like they do rodents or insects inside a facility. Instead, birds need to be relocated using nets or spikes, for example, to keep them from roosting. And jan/san distributors have found it to be a market where customers are looking for help.

“Placing spikes on a window ledge, the edge of a roof or a parapet doesn’t give the birds a comfortable place to land on,” says Jeff Klass, national sales manager for ABC Window Cleaning Supply, Littleton, Colo.

Other products include a sticky gel or ultrasonic sounds to evict birds. Air treatment systems are also available that release a non-toxic mist, fog or scent that irritates birds’ trigeminal nerve and mucous membranes through entry through the eyes, nose or mouth.

“These are all non-lethal methods to basically shoo the birds away,” says Klass.

Distributors who sell bird control products say customers do not purchase these products on a lark. Instead, they are purchased because there is a desperate need for bird abatement due to soaring weekly maintenance costs.

“In many cases, the bird problem has to get really, really bad before someone from a facility says, ‘OK, we’ve got to fix this,’” says Klass.

When selling bird control products, distributors should help assess the situation and recommend what types of products are ideal for the situation. But before bird control products can be installed on a building, a facility has to take measures to clean up the affected area. Distributors recommend calling in experts to properly clean and dispose of bird droppings before bird control products can be installed.

“It’s a darn near hazmat clean-up situation,” says Klass.