Bird Friendly Pest Management
Some methods for removing and excluding pests from buildings can have unintended harmful consequences for birds. Below are suggestions of ways to manage pests while minimizing the risk of harm to birds and other wildlife.
What NOT to do
The following methods for managing pests are NOT recommended:
X Sticky/glue traps used indoors are a cruel way to trap rodents that will usually result in serious pain and starvation for captured animals. When used outdoors, sticky/glue traps often attract insects that birds do not recognize are attached to something sticky. They may themselves become attached to the sticky surface and can suffer major damage to their feathers and skin.
A woodpecker caught in a glue trap on a tree in London.
X Rodenticide is often used to manage rodent infestations, but the poison inevitably spills into the environment and causes harm for other animals including birds.
Stations, usually black boxes, are set up with bait that is laced with rodenticide. Rodents such as mice and rats will consume or remove the bait. Rodenticide can take some time to kill a rodent. Typically, an animal that has consumed poison will flee and die elsewhere.
After ingestion, a rodent's body is contaminated with rodenticide. If that rodent is eaten by a predator or scavenger, that animal will also consume the poison. Rodenticide may also enter the environment as the rodent's body decomposes. This process is known as bioaccumulation. Rodenticide is especially harmful for birds of prey such as owls. It can cause neurological effects in birds and usually results in a painful death.
Owls are prone to secondary rodenticide poisoning.
Animals killed by cats. Photo by Jak Wonderly. Learn more
X Cats roaming outside hunt a wide variety of animals, including rodents, and the scent left by a cat can act as a pest deterrent. However, cats roaming outside are also prone to killing native wildlife including birds, reptiles and amphibians. Cats allowed to roam outside are also put at risk themselves. These dangers exist for cats both in urban and rural areas. While cats may be used to deter and manage pest populations indoors, they should never be allowed to roam outside unsupervised. Learn more about best practices for keeping cats and birds safe.
Humane pest management
Various tools and methods for pest management are available to reduce or replace practices that can be harmful for wildlife. If live catch-and-release traps are not a viable option, please use only traps that do not involve poison or glue.
In general, excluding wildlife from entering buildings in the the first place can prevent issues with pest infestations. Below are some suggestions of non-invasive methods for excluding pests from buildings:
Remove attractants such as food and accessible garbage. Consider installing signs in eating areas to remind building occupants to clean up. Bird feeders and fruit-bearing plants outside may also attract rodents and other wildlife.
Seal points of entry around the perimeter of the building by covering openings and ensuring windows and doors are screened or kept closed.
Apply deterrents such as essential oils, ultrasonic deterrents or other non-toxic materials near places where rodents enter the building.
Install a nest box for owls nearby. Owls are a natural predator of rodents.
Keep a domestic cat inside the building - their scent may repel rodents.
The following London businesses offer humane pest management services:
In November 2023, Bird Friendly London partnered with Ontario Wildlife Removal, Salthaven Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Centre and Green Economy London to offer a Responsible Pest Management webinar with practical tips for excluding rodent pests from buildings. You can find a recording of the webinar on Youtube: