Case Studies

Bird Control Services Case Studies: Nuisance birds at Rutgers stadium in Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 by Tom Reilly

Challenge

Bird Solutions By Cowleys recently completed one of its largest bird control projects to date — the High Point Solutions Stadium, home to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, which is now part of the Big Ten Conference, the oldest Division I athletic conference in the United States. This impressive collegiate football stadium in Piscataway, NJ overlooks the Raritan River, and, after its 2008-2009 expansion, now enjoys a seating capacity for over 50,000 screaming fans. Although Cowleys has contracted with some of the largest commercial and institutional clients in the tri-state area to resolve their nuisance bird problems, we also handle “bird invasions” for small businesses and residential customers as well. Nuisance birds, especially pigeons, starlings, swallows, and gulls, can quickly turn into a major headache for structures of all sizes!

Unfortunately, the stadium was experiencing some rude gatecrashers. High Point Solutions Stadium features light stanchions that allow for night games, and birds were taking advantage of these structures. A variety of nuisance birds were roosting above the stands on the catwalks used for staff to reach the stadium lights. Birds are naturally attracted to man-made structures and human habitats. After we, we provide them with perfect roosting locations and an almost unlimited supply of food. Just imagine hundreds of pounds of peanuts, popcorn, and other food residue left behind for the birds in a stadium of this size once the fans have left!

Needless to say, neither the fans nor the stadium crew were happy about all of the unsightly bird droppings. Spectators were complaining about the droppings that were on their seats when they arrived for the games, and there were even reports of fans being hit by droppings. There is nothing quite like bird droppings landing on your head or clothing to ruin an otherwise exciting day of football! Also, bird droppings are more than unsightly. They are not only highly acidic and capable of causing property damage, but they also contain a wide variety of dangerous, toxic pathogens. These messy, nasty birds needed to go. The stadium manager contacted Cowleys to remove this troublesome bird infestation and make the stadium “fan friendly” once again.

 

Bird control is all about behavior modification. The objective is to make the property inhospitable for the birds to land so they move elsewhere. Birds have almost an unlimited choice of natural and man-made structures. We work to get the birds to “pack their bags” and move elsewhere to a more hospitable location. How can you teach birds that they have overstayed their welcome? Obviously, they don’t listen to reason. You have to do something a bit more basic. If you ever took a “Psych 101” course, one of the main topics is operant conditioning and the work of B.F. Skinner. This is learning that is based on the consequences of behavior. That is, over time, behaviors that are positively reinforced are repeated and, what’s critical for effective bird control, behaviors that are negatively reinforced are avoided.  If you create enough unpleasant experiences for the birds, those experiences will be “stamped” into their little peanut brains and they soon learn to avoid them. 

Solution

To create an ongoing series of unpleasant experiences for these birds, we installed approximately a half-mile of shock tracks to the catwalks on both sides of the stadium. We have no interest in killing or harming the birds in any way. These tracks work by providing a low voltage jolt whenever a bird lands on it. It’s similar to the shock used by invisible fences to keep dogs in your yard. It does not take too many negative reinforcements (“shocks”) for the birds to realize that these catwalks are not a good place to land. They will then leave to look for better places. 

These tracks are low maintenance. The tracks are charged by a solar-powered charger. There is a battery that should be replaced annually, but it can last longer depending on how much the track is being charged and the weather conditions. An installation of this size took a decent sized crew, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. With deterrent devices the proper installation is as important as the devices themselves. When businesses try to get there own maintenance staff to do it they are often improperly installed. The deterrents don’t work as well, and often, they don’t work at all! For the best results, it’s worth it to have these devices professionally installed. 

With this completed job, these tracks will work effectively for many years to “encourage’ birds to stay away from the stadium, and there will be little to no maintenance. Once again, the fans can focus their attention on the game and having fun rather than worrying about birds and their droppings.