Archive for Monday, September 8, 2008

Bird droppings foul KU garage parking spots

Pigeons are causing problems in Kansas University parking garages. KU officials are seeking advice from exterminators on nonlethal deterrents to roosting.

Pigeons are causing problems in Kansas University parking garages. KU officials are seeking advice from exterminators on nonlethal deterrents to roosting.

September 8, 2008


Bird droppings foul KU garages

Roosting pigeons could soon get a rude awakening up at KU. Enlarge video

Leave it to a bird expert to confirm for us what we already know: There's no shielding our vehicles from the droppings of our feathered friends overhead.

"I park my car under a tree behind my house, and it gets covered with poop," said A. Townsend Peterson, an ornithologist, professor in Kansas University's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and curator at KU's Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center. "I don't really see much that anyone can do, other than to park in the open."

But that doesn't mean people aren't trying to prevent their pickups, Priuses and pimped-out Pontiacs from getting pelted with poop.

Some advice, from the experts:

Avoid roosts

If you're parking in the Mississippi Street parking garage at KU, do yourself a favor and avoid the following spots: 4001, 4002, 4040-4049 and 4150-4158.

That's the word from John Kruzel, whose job responsibilities include cleaning up after the pigeons who roost above those spots, on the garage's fourth level.

"It looks like a Colorado snowstorm," said Kruzel, facility manager for parking garages at KU Parking & Transit. "That's no kidding. It's bad."

While parking in one of those spaces is no guarantee of a bombardment, Kruzel still advises against taking the chance.

KU's other parking garage, north of Allen Fieldhouse, has fewer susceptible spots, although two areas - at the northeast corner of the third level, and at the southwest corner of the bottom level - do take hits from bird bottoms.

The common characteristics of the spaces: All are at the garages' exteriors, where birds can gain easy access and find perches on which to roost, Kruzel said. Warmth from the sun might play a role, too.

Efforts to prevent birds from using the garages as restrooms have failed, at least so far. The latest attempt involved nailing a stretched-out Slinky onto a 2-foot-long board, then placing it atop a popular roost inside the garage on Mississippi Street.

The effort to make the surface uncomfortable for sitting proved ineffective.

"They just push it out of the way," Kruzel said. "They don't care."

The birds' comfort may not last much longer. Kruzel has consulted with an exterminator, and expects a list of recommendations this week that could include applying a special kind of repellent, a caulk-like substance designed to keep pigeons away.

Donna Hultine, director of KU Parking & Transit, would appreciate finding a workable solution.

"We've battled birds a little bit, but it's a delicate balance," she said. "You don't want to kill birds."

Cleaning up

While Kruzel uses a flat head shovel to clean up after birds, Bill Stewart is more concerned about your car's finish.

And for that he has but one suggestion when it comes to cleaning bird droppings off a vehicle: Don't wait.

Clean it up. Now.

"Any bird poop is bad on the car, especially if it's left on there for a long time," said Stewart, who opened Auto Plaza Car Wash, 2828 Four Wheel Drive, 16 years ago and now serves as general manager. "It gets down into the clear coat. You can go get it out, but it still looks like it's there - it's etched into the clear coat.

"Once that acid is allowed to sit on that clear coat, it eats into it. If it's left on there for a day - any length of time - it starts eating its way in."

Stewart suggests using a mild soap product, such as those you can buy at an auto store, to clean up the mess. But simply rinsing away the poop with water has proven effective.

"Just get it off the paint," Stewart said.

Health effects

While you won't need a HazMat suit, health officials suggest using common sense when cleaning bird droppings from your vehicle.

Some words of advice from Charlotte Marthaler, director of policy and planning for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, about the bird situation:

"You can get a bacterium from bird feces - salmonella - and so if you've had any contact with animal feces, you should wash your hands with soap and water," she said. "This is the same kind of bacteria that you can get from any kind of pets - like a pet bird or a reptile or even if you have horses or dogs or cats - so it's really important for people to wash their hands with soap and water."


blindrabbit 9 years, 9 months ago

The City parking garage on New Hampshire is a bird dropping paradise; I've heard a guano (bird dropping) company is willing to contract at a no-fee basis if they can keep all the profits; that stuff is really valuable. Better yet, we could package the stuff and call it "JayPoop", anything a Jawhawk sells well, especially with both basketball and football doing so well..Anyway, the City seems reticent in cleaning the garage. The K.U. Stadium (East Side) is another favorite site.There are ways of keeping the birds (pigeons) away other than outright killing them. I've heard of ultrasound, perrigrine falcons, netting (i.e. the old SW Bell tower on Vermont), feed laced with repellants or "bird "birth control" agents". I'm sure a consultant could be found who has dealt with this issue somewhere before. Pigeons are not a native species and therefore do not fall under the Federal Migratory Bird Act and Songbird Protection regulations. Before the bird huggers nail me, I am all for protective the afore mentioned "natives".

Tony Kisner 9 years, 9 months ago

We could take a clue from the French, and eat them. Kills two birds with one stone, (or pellet).

Alison Carter 9 years, 9 months ago

LJW news subscribers of print edition deserve better.This story was on the front is not frontpage material.The government just took over Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae.This important story was placed on the second page at the bottom. Even though economic news is difficult to understand and to relay how it affects each and every one of us, the LJW could do better at keeping us informed.Thanks.

blessed3x 9 years, 9 months ago

coltrane (Anonymous) says: it's all Hemengway's fault right?Gee...I thought it was all Bush's fault!Sounds like the city needs some official Red Ryder carbine action range model air rifles...with a compass in the stock of course!

blindrabbit 9 years, 9 months ago

Hawk: The real reason they just recently planted all those cedar trees along Mississippi St. is to provide roosting for the birds and thus thwart them using the new tower. Mangino should be safe now, but does K.U. even use those new fields. Wish I was in the cedar tree nursery business; was that cost factored into the football complex budget?

compmd 9 years, 9 months ago

The university will not allow pigeons to continue their occupation of parking garages without making contributions to the Williams Fund and obtaining the proper parking permits. Pigeons who do not comply will be fined, immobilized, and then removed from the premises.

blindrabbit 9 years, 9 months ago

blessed3x Years ago (maybe 25) the City did try your BB gun approach, only used air rifles. You can only imagine the backlash that occurred about that; also, there were no reports at that time about innocent bystanders being hit by errant shots. From what I hear,Jayhawk Towers has some BB gun experts.

Lenette Hamm 9 years, 9 months ago

One health hazard (or potential at least) for some folks is the risk of Histoplasmosis, which can develop after exposure to pigeon (and bat or chicken) droppings. It's uncommon that anyone would have harmful side effects from the disease, but people already struggling with asthma, COPD or a weak immune system can have serious complications from inhaling fungus/spores releases when cleaning up the poo... Best to wear protective gear and a filtering mask at the very least.

Tristan Moody 9 years, 9 months ago

Whatever happened to implanting those thin metal spikes every three or so inches on every "roostable" spot? The shopping center that houses Jason's Deli uses that quite effectively, and I've seen it done in major theme parks as well. What is so hard about that?

doc1 9 years, 9 months ago

looks like i'll have to start throwing down some bird food laced with rat poison next time I go down there.

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

I recommend bird seed with a few kernels coated with an hallucinogen. When the other birds see a few of their little friends flying upside down they'll move somewhere else. Do it on a weekend so nobody's car gets damaged from a tripping bird.Pigeons are nasty and can spread more diseases than a rat.

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 9 months ago

coltrane wrote: "it's all Hemengway's fault right?"Didn't he write "A Pigeon for One?"

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 9 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront again wins the daily prize for the post(s) comprising the greatest non sequitur.

cds 9 years, 9 months ago

SWGlassPit (Anonymous) says: Whatever happened to implanting those thin metal spikes every three or so inches on every "roostable" spot? The shopping center that houses Jason's Deli uses that quite effectively, and I've seen it done in major theme parks as well. What is so hard about that?____Yep, Seattle has these little spike strips everywhere they like to roost on buildings and parking garages, works well.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 9 months ago

But, but it's totally organic & sometimes green.....

lubyloo 9 years, 9 months ago

This is hard-hitting journalism at its best.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 9 months ago

Besides... without all those nitrates, how's Marion gonna fish?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.