Making People Flocking Mad (AKA: Ruffling some feathers)
Today is World Penguin Day. So let's talk birds. I’m probably going to get some pushback from this, but I don’t like birds. I admit, birds of prey like raptors and owls are very beneficial. Vultures are really amazing too. But the rest of our “everyday” birds… I’m not a fan. They eat and therefore they leave behind droppings that are acidic and caustic. However, many people like birds and have their birdfeeders to encourage these little denizens to their yards.
I remember growing up, my parents had birdfeeders and one of my chores was to fill those stupid things every few days. I hated it. As an adult, I refuse to feed the pests birds. All that birdseed isn’t just for the birds. Norway rats are big fans too.
Most people buy big bags of birdseed and don’t keep it in sealed containers. They also tend to keep in garages and basements that aren’t very well sealed. So rodents get in and take advantage of an abundant and easy food source. (I won’t even mention the stored product pests like Indian meal moths and sawtoothed grain beetles that get into the stored seeds.)
It doesn’t end there. Birds are really messy. If you’ve ever really watched a bird go at a seed feeder, you will notice they spill more seed than they eat. All those seeds fall on the ground. Now rats and mice have even more seeds to feed on. A recently published paper looked at residential properties with, and without birdfeeders. Guess what they found?
If you predicted that the homes with birdfeeders had more Norway rats, you would be correct. From trapping data, they found that there were 14% more rodents trapped at homes with bird feeders. They also found that more rodenticide was consumed, indicating higher populations of rodents in these sites.
Let’s be real though, telling homeowners to stop feeding the birds will be as effective as trying to tell my parents to stop (in other words, it has no chance of happening). There are a few things that can be done to minimize the rodent issue. Just knowing that there are birdfeeders will indicate that a few more traps and possibly more bait stations may be necessary. It will be helpful to find where the birdseed is stored and have the homeowner seal it better. Going a step further, if the homeowner can rake up and remove spilled seeds, there will be that much less for rodents to feed on. Homeowners may be encouraged to move the feeders a bit further away from structures so rodents aren’t as attracted to the building. It’s not perfect (perfect would be letting the stupid birds fend for themselves), but it can mitigate the impact of an increased rodent population.
Today is also World Malaria Day. Go support your local mosquitoes by installing bird baths and overwatering your container plants. Get more great tips on creating conducive conditions for pests by contacting us here!
Lagniappe – okay, penguins are cool too.
urban pest consultants