Birds – Residential Canada Goose & Geese – House Sparrows – Feral Pigeons – European Starlings – Problems – Issues

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The Oklahoma Wildlife Control® Limited Liability Company is unrivaled in service and quality. Our professional bird deterrent installations are no different. With each installation, our clients also have the option of a monthly, or quarterly maintenance program. This ensures the investment made in the deterrent is not a waste of money. Whether the nuisance birds are Feral Pigeons, European Starlings, Canada Geese, House Sparrows, Woodpecker or other avian species … we offer the most professional installations possible. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about proper bird remediation, resolutions, installations, deterrents or any other wildlife related issues. Thank you.

Pigeons and Risks

Oklahoma feral pigeon cleanup control remove trap trapping remediation



The Problem

Pigeons cause defacement and accelerated building deterioration, fouling and soiling, noise and nuisance, poor public appearance & image, health hazards, transmission of disease, contamination of water / food supplies, public / employee safety and equipment damage. Cost of bird strikes and delays / cancellations to the commercial and military aviation industry is estimated to be $1.0 billion to $1.5 billion dollars a year. Monetary losses and damages caused by pigeon and bird feces to businesses, transportation entities, utilities and the general public goes largely unreported costing
consumers untold multi-millions of dollars each year.

Do pigeons pose a health risk? YES. Aside from the parasites & mites, they will provide you with …

Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus, which grows in pigeon droppings. It also grows in soils and is found throughout the world. When cleaning droppings a person may breathe in some of the fungus, which in cases of high exposure can cause infection. Common activities, such as cleaning off windowsills, will not result in high exposures.

Symptoms of histoplasmosis begin to appear about 10 days after initial infection and include fatigue, fever, and chest pains. Most people, however, do not show any symptoms. Those with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients or people living with HIV/AIDS are generally more at risk of developing histoplasmosis. The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person.


Cryptococcosis

Cryptococcosis is another fungal disease associated with pigeon droppings and also grows in soils throughout the world. It is very unlikely that healthy people will become infected even at high levels of exposure. A major risk factor for infection is a compromised immune system. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 85 percent of cryptococcosis patients are HIV-positive.


Starlings and Risk

European starling invasive species oklahoma

Like the house sparrow, the starling was introduced from Europe in the 19th century. It did not spread as fast and only reached the western coast within the last few decades. Starlings are well adapted to urban life which offer it an abundance of food and nesting sites. It is a muscular bird about eight inches long with long wings and a short squared tail. Starlings are very aggressive and will drive native birds out of its territory, much to the dismay of local bird watchers. Starlings are well noted for their flocking habits. They often gather in the tens of thousands, creating a huge nuisance when roosting in populated areas. Starlings are a major nuisance in urban areas due to their nesting, eating and living habits. When the bird is in its flocking phase, thousands of starlings often overwhelm urban buildings. Large scale buildup of feces from these flocks will lead to structural damage. The uric acid in the feces will corrode stone, metal and masonry. Gutters and drainage pipes clogged with starling nests often backup, causing extensive water damage. The bacteria, fungal agents and parasites in the feces also pose a serious health risk.


House Sparrows and Risk

Oklahoma House Sparrow Control Bird Tulsa

If you want to attract bluebirds, you will have to deal with House Sparrows if they are common in your area. House Sparrows are probably the number one enemy of bluebirds and purple martins. Unlike starlings, they are capable of entering the 1.5″ round hole of a nest box. House Sparrows have been observed threatening and attacking 70 species of birds that have come into their nesting territory.

You might think they’re cute (some blue-birders refer to them as “rats with wings”), but they attack and kill adult bluebirds (warning: graphic photos), sometimes trapping and decapitating them in the nest box and building their own nest on top of the corpse. They destroy eggs and young. At a minimum, they often harass native birds (especially more timid species like chickadees) into abandoning nest boxes. A HOSP flock near a nest box can also cause premature fledgling. They will also overwhelm bird feeders, driving other species away. (Ben Lincoln reported that 16 House Sparrows went through 3 lbs. of birdseed over a two day period.)

Damage and Risk

House Sparrows cause other damage: to crops (esp. grains) and gardens (eating seed, seedlings, buds, flowers, young vegetables [such as peas and lettuce], maturing fruit [such as cherries, pears and peaches but not grapes], and stored grain, and consuming and spoiling livestock food and water. They may spread other agricultural pests (such as nematodes and weed seeds). In exceptional cases (e.g., consumption of alfalfa weevil and cutworms) House Sparrows have been useful as a destroyer of insect pests, however under normal circumstances its choice of insects is often unfavorable (Birds of
America, 1917).

House Sparrows droppings and feathers create janitorial problems as well as hazardous, unsanitary, and odoriferous situations inside and outside of buildings and sidewalks under roosting areas. They can contaminate and deface buildings with their nests and acidic droppings, which can damage the finish on automobiles, block gutters (with nests), and create fire hazards (e.g., when nesting around power lines, lighted signs or electrical substations, in dryer vents.)

Last, but not least, they are also a factor in dissemination of about 29 human and livestock diseases and internal parasites (Weber 1979) such as equine encephalitis, West Nile (they are carriers, but it usually does not kill them as it has killed crows in the past), vibriosis, and yersinosis, chlamydiosis, coccidiosis, erysipeloid, Newcastle’s, parathypoid, pullorum, salmonellosis, transmissible gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, acariasis, schistosomiasis,
taeniasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis; and household pests like bed bugs, carpet beetles, clothes moths, fleas, lice, mites, and ticks. Note that other wild birds may also have these diseases and parasites, but because of numbers and typical nesting locations, HOSP may be more likely to transmit them to humans and livestock.


Residential Canada Geese



The term waterfowl is properly applied only to Ducks, Geese and Swans. Goose problems in urban and suburban areas are primarily caused by giant Canada geese, which are probably the most adaptable of all waterfowl. If left undisturbed, these geese will readily establish nesting territories on ponds in residential yards, golf courses, condominium complexes, city parks, or on farms. Most people will readily welcome a pair of geese on a pond. They can soon turn from pet to pest, however. A pair of geese can, in 5 to 7 years, easily become 50 to 100 birds that are fouling ponds and surrounding yards and damaging landscaping, gardens, and golf courses. Defense of nests or young by geese and swans can result in injuries to people who come too close.

Migrant waterfowl damage agricultural crops in northern and central North American. In the spring, waterfowl graze and trample crops such as soybeans, sunflowers, and cereal grains. In autumn, swathed grains are vulnerable to damage by ducks, coots, geese, and cranes through feeding, trampling, and fouling. Young alfalfa is susceptible to damage by grazing waterfowl. Geese sometimes damage standing crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat. In southern agricultural areas, overwintering waterfowl can cause problems in rice, lettuce, and winter wheat.

Legal Status

In the United States, migratory birds, including most waterfowl, as well as their nests and eggs, are federally protected (50 CFR 10.12) by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (16 USC. 703-711). A complete list of all migratory birds protected by the MBTA can be found in 50 CFR 10.13. Also, all states protect most waterfowl. Exotic and feral waterfowl species including mute swans, greylag geese, muscovy ducks, and Pekin ducks are not protected by the MBTA, but may be protected by state law or local ordinance.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has enlisted us as designated agents, under ODWC’s Special Canada goose Permit (SCGP), issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Services. As agents we are authorized to conduct resident Canada goose management and control activities through egg and nest manipulation, trapping, and relocation, of Canada geese in order to contribute to human health and safety, protection of personal property, and prevention of injury to people or property. We are pre-authorized to trap and relocate and carry out egg and nest control only from within the incorporated city limits of a municipality. At this time lethal control of resident Canada geese by SCGP Agents operating under the ODWC federal permit is not permitted. Control activities under the ODWC’s federal Special Canada Goose Permit may only be conducted between March 11 and August 31. Activities involving the harassment of resident Canada geese, that do not result in the taking or possession of resident Canada geese, their parts, nest or eggs, may be conducted year around.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Control® Limited Liability Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma … is certified under the SCGP of the US Fish & Wildlife Department, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to assist and resolve your residential Canada geese problems and concerns with services ranging from egg addling to physical removal and relocation. Contact us today for your Residential Canada Geese needs. Our professionals are standing by to assist you.




CANADA GEESE DAMAGE MANAGEMENT PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES

Many have raised concerns about the diseases found in the droppings of Canada geese. Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are a modern success story for wildlife management. At one time, numbers of Canada geese were in serious decline. However, the actions of various wildlife agencies have brought their numbers in North America to an estimated 5,600,600 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009). Unfortunately, this dramatic increase in population has resulted in some negative consequences.

First, large numbers of geese leave large quantities of feces. A single goose can defecate every 20 minutes (Bowen and Valiela 2004) up to 1.5 pounds of feces each day (French and Parkhurst 2009). This problem is magnified when we realize that approximately 67% of those geese are non-migratory or resident geese (Dolbeer 2006). In other words, land and lakes frequently do not get a sustained rest from geese presence. If large numbers of geese congregate, one must wonder if there is a health risk related to the feces left on ground and in the water. French and Parkhurst (2009) note that “beaches and other public areas littered with accumulated goose feces have been closed due to the contamination or the threat of personal injury resulting from falls as people lose footing on the slippery material.” So concerns regarding goose droppings are not simply speculative.

Research has shown that the excrement of geese contains a wide variety of pathogens capable of infecting humans. (Diseases transmitted from animals to humans are known as zoonotic diseases). Yet geese can also be a means of transmitting (vector) other diseases in ways unrelated to their defecation. As goose numbers continue to increase, concerns have been raised regarding the negative impact Canada geese may have on water quality and disease transmission (Fallacara et al. 2001).

One of the significant challenges in surveying infectious diseases of Canada geese is distinguishing their having zoonotic diseases from the likelihood of their vectoring those diseases to humans (Bonner et al. 2004). As Smith et al. (1999) characterized the situation, “Transmission of disease or parasites from geese to humans has not been well documented, but the potential exists.” This potential is in no small way related to the number of geese and their high mobility (Fallacara et al. 2001). In light of the gaps in our knowledge, we caution readers that presence of a disease does not necessarily translate into a threat to public health. Nevertheless, we advise caution as the research in this field continues to evolve.

Canada geese presence at parks and golf courses raised the question of the potential of disease transmission to humans via contact with goose droppings (Converse et al. 1999). The droppings of Canada geese have been found to carry a significant number of diseases, however, only a few are of significant concern to humans.

PARASITES

Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes an enteric disease called cryptosporidiosis. As few as 30 ovocysts are needed to cause infection (Kassa et al. 2004). While healthy people usually recover following a bout of diarrhea, the infection can endanger immune-compromised individuals, such as those suffering with AIDS (Corso et al. 2003). Canada geese have been found to be carriers of cryptosporidium (Kassa et al. 2004) but not in all surveys (Fallacara et al. 2001). However, the geno-types of the human-borne infections and the geese’s potential in contaminating water sources is considered low (Zhou et al. 2004).

Despite the insignificant role geese may play in the transmission of human-infectious cryptosporidium, protection of water purity remains important. A chief concern lies in cryptosporidium’s ability to remain viable after traditional chlorination practices (Corso et al. 2003). The cyst stage of the organism is relatively resistant to normal disinfection procedures and tends to persist even in dry environments (Brown et al. 1999; Kassa et al. 2004). People have become infected even when they swam in chlorinated water (Kassa et al. 2004). Although no confirmed reports of cryptosporidiosis has been reported from direct contact (as opposed to contact with focally contaminated water) with goose feces (Zhou et al. 2004), individuals exposed to geese feces should take reasonable precautions. These include, avoid swallowing contaminated water, washing hands thoroughly and drying with disposable paper towels, scrubbing contaminated shoes and clothing with disinfectant, and keeping hands away from mouth and face until showering. Although geese have been shown to transmit infectious cysts (Graczyk et al. 1998), they are merely mechanical carriers of cysts as geese do not become infected (Jellison et al. 2004).

Giardia. The cysts of of giardia have been found in the feces of Canada geese (Graczyk et al. 1998; Kassa et al. 2004, Centers for Disease Control Giardia Factsheet). Giardia is a protozoan parasite that causes gastrointestinal infection in humans (Centers for Disease Control Giardia Factsheet). Giardia infection is of particular concern due to the organism’s ability to survive various environments including its resistance to waste water treatment (Brown et al. 1999). For example, giardia can survive in salt water for up to 21 days and longer in freshwater (Brown et al. 1999). It is important not to consider all geese infected as this is not true (Fallacara et al. 2001).

Toxoplasma gondii infection has been found in a single Canada goose (Dubey et al. 2004). Humans typically become infected through eating under-cooked meat containing the parasite or by drinking contaminated water (Dubey et al. 2004). Human exposure to the organism does not necessarily lead to infection. Due to the paucity of Toxoplasma gondii infections in geese found in the survey (n=1) further surveillance of disease prevalence among geese is warranted. Although the risk of humans being infected by this disease by geese is low, we encourage pregnant women to use caution when eating geese or drinking water with large numbers of geese.

Other Parasites: Canada geese feces can carry parasites from phyla Apicomplexa, Nematoda, and Arthropoda with the majority from the nematode group (Fallacara et al. 2004). Geese also are subject to a wide variety of blood borne parasites including Leucocytozoon, Haemoproteus, microfilariae, and Plasmodium. But plasmodium and haemoproteus infections were light (Bradshaw and Trainer 1966).

BACTERIA

Campylobacter jejuni is a bacterium usually associated with food-borne pathogens (The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition 2009). Although recent findings have demonstrated that geese are significant carriers of Campylobacter jejuni (Fallacara et al. 2004), overturning previous negative findings (Converse et al. 1999), the public health impacts of these positive results are unclear for several reasons. First, the eggs of Canada geese were found to be free of the bacterium (Bonner et al. 2004). Second, researchers are still determining which of the bacterium’s strains are pathogenic (The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition 2009). It should be noted, however, that chicken borne strains tend to be pathogenic (The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition 2009).

Chlamydiosis (a.k.a. Psitticosis). Chlamydiosis is a common infection of birds which when it infects people is called Psitticosis. (Compendium 1997). Canada geese can transmit this disease to humans and the agent is viable in goose eggs (Bonner et al. 2004). Its official name is Chalmydiosis psitticai and is transmitted to human via a variety of birds (Bonner et al. 2004). Infected birds shed the bacteria through feces and nasal discharge. Humans normally manifest infection by pneumonia (Johnston 2000). Unless one is working with Canada geese or involved in feces clean up, the risk of infection is quite low (Bradshaw and Trainer 1966; Palmer and Trainer 1969).

E-Coli. A survey of goose droppings at Fort Collins, Colorado discovered E-coli in 16.7% of the samples. Although the highly virulent 0157:H7 strain of E-coli was not found, 4 serotypes of E-coli were (Kullas et al. 2002). Prevalence of E-coli did not correlate to numbers of geese. E-coli presence correlated to temperature with 94% of droppings tested in June containing E-coli with only 2% in February (Kullas 2002). Similar seasonal variation was also found by Fallacara et al. (2004). Perhaps most disturbing was how the strains of E-coli found were resistant to several antibiotics (Fallacara et al. 2001, 2004).

Listeria. Converse et al. (1999) found Listeria spp. including Listeria monocytogenes, in geese droppings. Listeriosis is a serious medical threat as infection can cause abortions in pregnant women and result in septicemia and meningitis (The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition 2009).

Pasturella multocida is the bacterium that causes avian cholera (Blanchong et al. 2006). It is transmitted between birds via direct contact, breathing of droplets (e.g. when they sneeze) or through contaminated water (Blanchong et al. 2006). Fortunately, the bacteria does not persist in lakes provided infected birds or their carcasses are not present (Blanchong et al. 2006). Fallacara et al. (2004) found that Pasteurella multocida was not present in healthy birds. Humans typically only encounter this bacterium following a bite, typically from a dog or a cat (Cummings et al. 2002). We do not consider this infection to be a significant public health threat. However, anyone bitten by a Canada goose should consider this infection a possibility if the wound does not respond to normal treatment.

Salmonella. Fallacara et al. (2004) asserts that geese are not significant carriers of salmonella but believes that they can be carriers (2001). While the bacterium has not been found in the eggs of Canada geese (Bonner et al. 2004), it has been found in their droppings (Converse et al. 1999, Fallacara et al. 2001). While salmonella can survive for up to 9 months in the environment, connecting salmonella infections in humans with Canada geese remains unproven (Converse et al. 1999). Nevertheless, picnickers should wash their hands before handling food and before eating when in areas where geese droppings are present (Centers for Disease Control 2009 “Salmonellosis”).

VIRUSES

Avian Influenza. Canada geese are members of a group of birds that have been known to contract avian influenza more commonly known as fowl plague (Rosenberger and Kraus 1975; Ellis et al. 2004). The infection is transmitted through the birds’ mucous membranes and is shed in the feces. Avian influenza comes in two forms, low path and high path. Low path can exist in birds and is generally asymptomatic and results in few bird deaths and is of little threat to humans. High path, on the other hand, can result in massive die off of birds (Centers for Disease Control 2005 Avian Influenza). As we learned in the 2002, a high path avian influenza known as H5N1 can infect and kill humans (Ellis et al. 2004). In 2004, researchers confirmed that Canada geese could in fact contract H5N1 (Clark and Hall 2006). While H5N1 has not become a problem in the United States at this time, researchers have been concerned that migratory birds (including Canada geese) could introduce the disease. Pasick et al. (2007) found Canada geese are susceptible to high-path avian influenza (H5N1) and could act as a sentinel species for monitoring of H5N1 outbreaks.

In laboratory tests and linear modeling it was found that Avian Influenza virus (AVI) viability was significantly extended in water temperatures with 17 C and with pH 7.4-7.8 with low dissolved salt. Researchers also found that infectivity is inversely related to salt content and the virus viability improves with increased acidity (Stallknecht et al. 1990a). In other findings, the authors suggested that large flocks of waterfowl in winter water habitats could raise AIV high enough to infect other animals that shared the water (Stallknecht et al. 1990a). Bonner et al. (2004) summarizes the issue as follows, “Since most of the lakes are visited frequently by people for recreational purposes, questions arise as to the possible risk of transmission of zoonotic agents from these birds to man. It is currently unknown whether influenza A and paramyxoviruses are carried and shed by free-living Canada geese; eggs were collected in the study area and examined.”

Encephalatic Viruses. Geese are not significant carries of encephalitic (e.g. Eastern encephalitis virus EEV, western encephalitis virus WEV, St. Louis encephalitis virus SLEV, Venezuelan encephalitis virus VEV and California encephalitis virus CEV) or Chlamydial diseases (Bradshaw and Trainer 1966; Palmer and Trainer 1969). Canada geese can carry West Nile Virus (WNV) (Centers for Disease Control West Nile Virus: Bird Species 2009). Since WNV is carried by a number of birds (Centers for Disease Control West Nile Virus: Vertebrate Ecology 2009), control of Canada geese to manage WNV would be impractical and imprudent.

FUNGUS

Histoplasmosis. Histoplasma capsulatum is the fungus that causes the disease histoplasmosis (Centers for Disease Control 2009 Histoplasmosis). The fungus grows in soil enriched with bird droppings, including those from geese. When these contaminated soils are stirred up, the fungal spores can become dispersed and inhaled, thereby infecting individuals (Centers for Disease Control 2009 Histoplamosis). Lenhart et al. (2004) says that goose droppings have not been identified as a source for histoplasmosis. However, in light of the conflicting information, we suggest individuals practice prudent caution when raking or stirring up soil enriched with goose droppings. It does not appear that goose droppings on sidewalks and other non-soil surfaces pose a risk (Lenhart et al. 2004).

WATER-BORNE DISEASES

According to Edgcumbe Ford (1999), it is difficult to define water borne diseases because “In principle almost all enteric pathogens and opportunistic pathogens that are transmissible by the fecal-oral route can be transmitted through water.” He suggests focusing on diseases that have been directly or strongly associated with transmission via drinking water. Several of the diseases mentioned above (giardia, cryptosporidium, E-coli) would affect water quality. It is for this reason that Edgcumbe Ford (1999) suggests that watershed protection should include practices “to reduce the impact of waterfowl, particularly near water intake sites.”

PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM THESE DISEASES

As a general rule, keeping one’s distance from geese and areas frequented by geese will be sufficient to prevent exposure to goose borne diseases. Individuals with compromised immune systems should pay particular attention to sanitation procedures. Kassa et al. (2001) provides several practices to protect individuals who work in areas contaminated with goose dropping from contracting cryptosporidium, giardia, and campylobacter.

  • 1. Wear protective gloves while working

    2. Wash hands after performing activities that could contaminate hands with goose feces. It is highly recommended to wash hands before eating or touching your mouth,

    3. If goose contaminated soils will be disturbed, follow guidelines for protecting yourself from histoplasmosis infection.

    4. Launder work clothes daily and shower at the end of each workday

    5. Those who develop gastrointestinal infections have their stools tested for cryptosporidium, giardia, and campylobacter (Kassa et al. 2001).

  • We would suggest, however, that anyone coming into contact with goose contaminated areas follow the above sanitation recommendations.

    Recommended Control Techniques

    These techniques should be used particularly to keep geese away from water intake areas.

    Hazing

    Capture and Removal

    For details on these techniques visit Goose Control Methods

    Recommended Citation

    Canada Goose Management Website. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NRES 348 Wildlife Damage Management class, Spring Semester, 2010. Scott Hygnstrom, Instructor; Stephen Vantassel, Webmaster.http://icwdm.org/handbook/Birds/CanadadGeese/Default.aspx

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