I was called in to help with one of our largest commercial accounts, a baseball stadium in Lakewood. This particular stadium hosts a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies that is named after a species of crab, native to the waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, that is a culinary delicacy here in New Jersey and Maryland (where it is the designated state crustacean). If you don’t know name of this team (the BlueClaws), you’re probably not from the Jersey Shore!
The senior pest control technician responsible for this account asked me to resolve a huge pigeon problem that was causing a major disruption at the games. Bird control is all about behavior modification through creating an inhospitable environment using a system of deterrents. The objective is to get the bird to move elsewhere. We never do anything to actually harm the birds (and it’s also illegal to cause any harm to migratory birds like seagulls and Canada geese). After all, baseball loves birds! We even have teams named after them like the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. But pigeons are a whole different story. These birds have the well-deserved reputation as the dirtiest of the nuisance birds.
Upon arrival, I spoke with the facility’s operations manager. He immediately brought me to the “crime scene” — behind home plate where their food carts are set up for the games. Unfortunately, baseball stadiums are filled with bird attractants. You’ll often see birds hovering around the field in the morning searching for the new seeds that keeps the grass so green. Also, baseball and food go hand-in-hand. What’s a baseball game without peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jacks? Unfortunately, places where there is plenty of food out in the open is too irresistible for birds, especially for nuisance birds like pigeons that thrive in human habitats and have no fear of getting up close and personal with people.
The manager showed me all the droppings and areas where the people and food products were being affected. Bird droppings are not only unsightly and damaging to property because of their high acidity, but they are also a serious health hazard. Bird droppings can contain numerous pathogens and parasites. Touching or even just breathing in their airborne spores can transmit a variety of diseases, not the least of which is histoplasmosis, a respiratory fungal infection.
After listening to the manager and inspecting the affected area, I knew exactly what to do. Birds see the world very differently than people. Birds that are active during the day so not only have color vision like humans. They also have cones in their retinas that give them the ability to see ultraviolet (UV) light, a much broader spectrum of colors. I decided to deter these birds by using their “superman” powers of vision against. them.
I installed the bird flasher pucks with a bird barrier optical gel every six inches along the back side wall behind home plate. To pigeons, these flashers look like a massive fireball — a hazard that no bird wants to even think about dealing with, even if it means foregoing a buffet of delicious foods. Of course, there is no actual flame. It’s all one big bird illusion. These flashers have no impact whatsoever on humans. Because of our limited color vision, we do not see a “fireball.” To us, it’s only a small disk full of a bland white gel.
After finishing, I explained to the manager how I solved the pigeon invasion behind home plate. He was quite pleased that when the umpire yells “play ball” at the next game, the pigeons will be keeping their distance. With these deterrents, the fans will be able to enjoy their food and watch some great baseball without worrying about pigeons and their nasty droppings.