Bird deterrents: why UV light may not be the answer
December 2, 2016
The most recent trend in bird deterrents—using ultraviolet (UV) light technology—has grabbed the attention of both pest control companies and consumers who are on the lookout for safer, faster, and cheaper methods to protect their properties from damage caused by local and migrating bird populations. The question is whether or not these new UV methods are effective or not, and whether they are improvements over the current technology being used.
For nearly 25 years, Bird B Gone has provided effective and environmentally safe methods in bird deterrents and bird repellents. We’ve created and patented 42 products in this industry, with 35 additional patents pending. We’ve not only witnessed innovations in our market, we’ve innovated many of them ourselves. When a new product is advertised as a great new revolution, it gets our attention.
First of all, it’s important to understand the connection between birds and UV light, and why this recent trend in bird control products came about.
Birds and other wildlife can detect UV light, and most birds are even more sensitive to UV light than regular, visible light. Scientists found that the plumage of many species of birds actually reflects UV light, and plays a part in choosing a mate. Furthermore, birds are also believed to use UV light to locate food, such as moths and butterflies, which reflect UV light. Some predatory birds use the UV-reflective urine trails of their food sources—voles, mice, and other rodents—to hunt and capture them.
If birds use UV light to help them find food sources, the question of using the UV technology in bird deterrents doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Here is what we’ve learned about UV light technology and its use in bird control products.
UV Lights and Songbirds
Earlier this year, the results of a study of songbirds and using UV lights as a deterrent were published in a leading ornithology journal. Birds crashing into glass doors and windows result in an estimated 988 million bird deaths each year. UV technology has been used in the bird control industry to deter these crashes. In the study, a pulsating UV light, a light-reflecting compact disc, and an unlit UV light were placed at bird feeder structures in eight locations over a winter season. What researchers found is that the UV light had no effect on deterring the birds from the food source, and in fact, slightly increased the songbirds’ visitation rates to at least one of the sites.
Optical Gels and Pigeons
Pest pigeons can cause thousands of dollars in property damage, and property owners and maintenance workers seek affordable and convenient methods to prevent them from gathering and nesting on their buildings. A recent option in the industry has been an optical repellent gel.
- Optical gels include a UV-product often referred to as “fire gel” in the bird control marketplace, were not totally effective. These products’ manufacturers claim that because birds see UV light, they recognize the product as fire, which birds fear and will avoid. According to the findings in the study, the researchers questioned the marketing claims that the “fire gel” product is perceived visually by birds as fire, it therefore, served as a repellent. Although it is a fact that pigeons and other birds are sensitive to UV light, the researchers also questioned how a pigeon would be afraid of fire and recognize it as a danger, with no previous experience of the situation.
- Even more significantly, testing of optical gels in a 2016 study showed that the product deteriorates over time, rapidly changing to a rust-brown color that inhibits the emission of UV light, and, in fact, cause UV light absorbance rather than emission.
- Birds still landed on the locations that were treated with the UV-light gel. The researchers concluded that there is no evidence of pigeons having an inborn ability to avoid ultraviolet light and fire, and it was, therefore, not a viable method of bird control.
- The best long-term methods of deterrents are exclusion and mechanical barriers, according to the study’s findings.
Bird control methods should be environmentally sound and not harm wildlife. With only a few studies being conducted into products using UV light technology, there is little-known evidence as to the long-term effects of these products, and both studies call into question whether or not this technology is an effective method of bird control.
Company: Bird-B-Gone, Inc.
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