February 27th, 2017

Balcony Netting Quality

Balcony Netting is a wide term; balcony screen, pigeon mesh, bird mesh and even balcony cloth are used sometimes to express the need. Regardless of what you call it different people have different concepts of what balcony netting should be.

When it comes to pigeons on balconies they need to be denied from having access to the balcony floor, railing and the floor ledge outside of the railing, otherwise they will not stop from coming back. This can only be achieved by blocking/excluding them physically. Such a barrier that stops pigeons from having access to your balcony should be:

  1. Lightweight.
  2. Flexible.
  3. Low profile.
  4. Neat looking.
  5. Affordable.

Solid or rigid materials cannot be used for balcony enclosures for the purposes of keeping pigeons away. For example welded wire mesh or the so called chicken wire are inappropriate, because they are very hard to work with, look awful and cannot be mounted to the building adequately. Patio or mosquito screens aren’t ideal either, because they require solid, wooden or steel frames and completely block your view. Both of these ideas are also very expensive due to labor time involved, not to mention aesthetics or the potential of lawsuits if some of these heavy and sharp materials fall from the balcony and cause injury to someone on the ground.

Now that we established that the best compromise for balcony netting is to use lightweight materials that are durable and relatively easy to install we can conclude that the best material available to fulfill this purpose is netting. Netting is available for different purposes, such as safety netting (used on construction sites to catch falling debris or falling workmen), sports netting (used in arenas to protect the spectators) or agricultural netting for fishing or protecting trees. Before bird netting was invented these were the only options. The reason why bird netting was invented is because these other types of nettings were not suited for the structural applications, requirements of professionals; architects and engineers. One cannot for example install a thick, hockey net on a beautiful building facade because it will look ridiculous and get the property manager fired. For the same reasons hockey net shouldn’t be used for fishing or to protect the fruits on the trees or fishing net used to catch falling workmen on construction sites.

Bird netting is not a joke, it is specifically made for applications where a lightweight, flexible, low profile, neat looking and affordable material is needed. This is precisely what bird netting is.

Naturally there are big cost differences in between these netting types. Safety and sports netting is obviously extremely strong, thick and knotted twine, therefore very expensive. Agricultural tree protection and fishing netting is less strong, non-knotted with smaller squares/holes so that they can be easily handled. Bird netting is stronger than agricultural netting, knotted but weaker than safety netting and their cost is more than agricultural netting but slightly less than safety netting. Also bird netting is a specialty product which comes at a premium.

Generally balcony netting costs anywhere between $180 and $350. The cost depends on the quality of the netting used for the job and the size and type of the balcony. So why would any company use materials that is not suited for the purpose? Because they can offer you a cheaper alternative, like using agricultural, tree netting for example. This type of netting is very lightweight and very thin and usually this is where you get tricked. It is also very weak and breaks easily. These types of nettings are made of polypropylene plastic and are molded. Polypropylene netting is rigid, it doesn’t stretch and is molded, not knotted. Bird netting (and safety/sports netting) is polyethylene (or kevlar), flexible and knotted for extra strength and longevity. Bird Netting is also UV treated, flame resistant, rot resistant, doesn’t absorb water and has a much higher breaking strength than inferior molded nettings.

Below is a comparison side by side of low quality, agricultural, 3/4″ molded netting and high quality, 2″ square, professional bird netting for bird exclusion purposes. These two installations were done at a long term client of us, where we are continually replacing the cheap, broken netting that the management wasted money on. You can clearly see on these photos how vulnerable the thin, molded netting is to abrasion and breakage.

Professional grade bird netting is extremely long lasting. There are netting jobs we did 17-years ago still intact. Our balcony netting comes with 6-years material and labour guarantee. If you want your balcony netting to last longer than a year, do yourself a favour and use quality materials – they look better and last longer.

As the saying goes: “If you think its expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”

September 26th, 2016

Don’t Feed The Pigeons!

Do you wish that all pigeon problems would just go away?

Not just the problem on your roof top, that’s going to cause the shingles to deteriorate prematurely, but the one on that apartment balcony across town, where the tenant is unable to enjoy the balcony they are paying for or one of the many city blocks where historic building facades are defaced; and one last one: where beautiful, public parks are destroyed.

If everyone in the city of Toronto would stop feeding pigeons and businesses improve their garbage disposal area, pigeon problems would drop dramatically. Why? Because there is too much food available for them. Pigeons are out and about all day long and if they aren’t picking up food from the ground they are perching on a building ledge, your rooftop or balcony and observe; wait for the next opportunity to find more food. All day long.

Shortly before sunset they start going back to their sheltered roosting and nesting spots: Overhang corners, narrow alleys, recessed windowsills, hydro line fasteners, inside/behind store signs, under roof top A/C units and so on. Pigeons don’t see well at night so they avoid flying after sunset. They seek out sheltered or semi-sheltered areas of houses, buildings or balconies, where they are protected from the elements and birds of prey. These roosting spots are also ideal places to build their nests… and there you have a pigeon problem.

There will always be pigeons, of course we can’t make them disappear and we shouldn’t. However reducing constant availability of food and water outside (in the form of garbage, standing/dripping water and intentional feeding) would significantly reduce the existing population anywhere in the city.

Until then, you can call Pigeon Busters 😉

July 18th, 2016

“Pigeons and the City” Video

Earlier this year I was interviewed for an article in the Walrus Magazine about pigeons in the city.

Shortly after, Blue Ant Media produced this follow up video to the article for the Smithsonian TV Channel. The crew sat down with me for a quick coffee at Propeller Coffee Co. and we chatted about how I started Pigeon Busters and what methods we use to address the issue of pigeons in the city.

July 17th, 2016

Balcony Netting Process

I’ve been installing balcony netting for 17 years and I thought it was time to recap the work process, so that you understand at least the basics, which can help you when considering having one installed to keep pigeons away.

  1. Pigeon netting requires a mounting method that is firmly attached to the building structure. Without this the netting cannot be installed. One of the easiest way to tell whether a netting job was done by a professional or the multiman superintendent is to look at the netting support component. If it’s 2X4s, wooden sticks, velcro, cable ties, conduit pipe, ceiling hooks or curtain rods, it was the super or the next door handyman. Professional perimeter netting support is usually done by using aircraft cable that is attached to the building through tie wire wedge anchors that are drilled into the walls/railing/floors: Photos 1-5.
  2. Larger turns/corners should have a vertical support cable to facilitate a nice, clean turn of the netting: Photos 6-7.
  3. The netting should be installed taut, free of wrinkles, in a straight line: Photos 8+.

As far as the netting is concerned I’ve seen it all, tried it all and here is what I can tell you:

  • Use polyethylene, knotted netting for longevity. Polypropylene, extruded/molded netting won’t last!
  • Use black netting. Light color is more noticeable and it darkens over time and it also degrades prematurely.

 

Click here to find out the price for your balcony netting using our balcony netting quiz!

April 24th, 2016

You should’ve called Pigeon Busters – Part 1

Yonge and Eglinton area in Toronto has long been famous for having lots of pigeons. This bank just north of Eglinton is one of the greatest failed bird control jobs I’ve ever seen. Not quite sure who did this work, but these kinds of jobs are the reason why many property owners and managers distrust the work we do and products we use, such as bird netting and bird spikes.

 

On these photos we can clearly see at least three separate attempts to resolve the pigeon problem on the entrance roof and building ledge. Even after three different products installed the problem still isn’t solved. At this point we have to ask the question, how silly the Company-Client relationship has to be to reach this bottom and for someone to allow this to happen without any consequences? What happened to the warranty, why is this eyesore not repaired and how come nobody cares? We may never know the answer, but this is what we can see:

1. Some company installed bird netting over the roof of the entrance thinking that it would prevent pigeons landing there. Mistake: Bird netting applied to horizontal surface without elevating the netting high enough; using 3/4″ mesh size, which is for sparrows/small birds. Even if the netting would be elevated it would look ridiculous on a flat, entrance roof top, it would show too much and pigeons would still be able to land on it, because the top of the netting would still be horizontal. Don’t think that pigeons cannot land on bird netting, they can! That’s why bird netting should only be installed vertically whenever possible. At completely exposed areas it would be fine to create a horizontal top, but at sheltered areas of a building – such as this on the photo – pigeons can land on the netting along the wall and continue to nest and roost.

2. We can see two more failed products on the photos: bird spikes and electric tracks with a solar charger on the wall. Mistake: Both products are installed inadequately and incorrectly. The ledge of the roof is probably very wide and we can only see one (half) row of spikes. This is imply not enough! Wide ledges require multiple rows and full surface coverage, otherwise pigeons can find foothold and land. For the electric track system installed we can only guess the same, not enough rows/coverage – we can see two pigeons hanging around in between all this mess. We can be sure that the electric tracks are there, because we can see the solar charger mounted on the wall, which powers the tracks. Unfortunately to no avail.

3. On the other side of the building we can see a fairly wide, recessed, steel ledge with needle-type spikes installed with pigeons nesting in them. These needle-type spikes are quite dense and sharp and as we can see on these photos they accumulate debris and nesting material very easily. Not to mention that they cannot be glued to the surface, only using mounting screws that penetrate the surface and cause leaking. But the bigger issue is that only one row of spikes were installed – as we can see on one of the photos – a pigeon is walking between the spikes and the wall.

At both areas either electric tracks or bird spikes could have been used effectively. Multiple rows of either product would have worked and from the aesthetic point of view the electric tracks would have been the ideal solution as they would not have shown at all. Due to their low profile and variety of colors available they are very hard to see.

Let me reassure you: Bird Netting works, Bird Spikes work, Electric Tracks work. If properly installed. Be sure to get product literature from your contractor before you make a decision and ask for manufacturers’ installation instructions. Read them and compare to the proposal from your contractor. Ask questions and at least a 2-year warranty, but 5-years should be no problem from a professional. Ask for references and visit the sites and see how the products look. A reputable bird control company should voluntarily provide these right from the beginning.

August 31st, 2015

Pest Control vs. Bird Control

It is a common belief that bird control somehow falls under pest control and that a pest control technician has the same qualifications as a bird control specialist. This is not the case and the reasons are very obvious:

pestvsbird

Pest control companies are in the business of exterminating living organisms, insects, etc. – primarily using chemicals –  which can extend to other vermin that could carry disease. The majority of their work is therefore on the ground. Pest control companies also have a larger number of staff and they can change/train new employees easily (because previous experience is not critical).

Bird control companies however never exterminate, never use chemicals, their work is always at heights and have very few, but very experienced technicians. Experience is crucial. For example, here at Pigeon Busters, high risk, challenging jobs are done only by me or with the help of a very experienced (min. 10-years) subcontractor.

This explains why you should only hire bird control experts for your bird problems. It also explains why you will pay more for a bird control professional and of course why their work will provide you with a higher quality, better looking and longer lasting outcome.
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August 7th, 2015

Bird Friendly Glass

All new developments in the City of Toronto are required to implement some level of Bird Friendly measures – by Toronto Green Standards. New buildings must use exterior Bird Friendly glazing to reduce bird collisions that have been fatally affecting the migrating birds and protected species. Bird Friendly Glass.

Architects have been struggling with the new mandates, because up until now only second-rate decals and highly visible dots or other fritted patterns were available. These considerably reduce the aesthetics of the glazing, especially within the first 12 meters above grade – where transparency is almost always a must and where collisions are more likely to occur due to the surrounding vegetation.

Cheap, short-lived decals and expensive special order fritted patterns that block the view are now of the past. ORNILUX is the new, clear solution that is visible to birds, but fully transparent to the human eye.

ORNILUX Bird Friendly Glass: The transparent solution

With the understanding that birds are able to see light in the ultraviolet spectrum, ARNOLD GLAS has developed ORNILUX Bird Protection Glass. The glass has a patterned, UV reflective coating making it visible to birds, while remaining virtually transparent to the human eye.
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July 18th, 2015

Ineffective “solutions” – Part 1: Ultrasonic Bird Repellers

ultrasonic deviceUltrasonic bird repeller systems have been around for many years and we often get requests to install them. Of course we respectfully decline not only to install, but we simply refuse to submit any bids on such RFQs.

Why are ultrasonic bird repellents so enticing? Because they offer a quick, cheap and invisible solution. At least in our imagination! Imagine: After a few bucks and a couple of minutes you just plug this thing in – or I’m sure they have solar powered ones these days – and off you go, no birds! Wait a minute. We’ve been in business for 14-years and have never installed one, in fact I have never seen one. If this product would work there would be no need for any other bird control product, we could just all buy one of these and consider it done, but many still fall for it.
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June 4th, 2015

Help! Pigeons on my roof! Or: The Limitations of Control Methods on Roofs

Pigeons on flat roof.

Pigeons hanging out on the flat part of a victorian house roof.

Bird control technicians’ nightmare – what to do when we are asked to do the impossible? The straight answer is that there is really nothing we can do when pigeons land on your roof, but there is much more to know.

Many customers ask: “Why? Why my roof, what’s so special about my roof that they have to land there?” Believe it or not you are asking the right question: Why? Once you understand why, you will also understand why is it hard to provide a solution in this situation.

Almost always, the primary cause of such problem is the availability of food nearby, plenty of it on a regular basis. Probably someone is feeding the birds or there are lots of garbage in the area or open garbage bins/containers. They could also nest or roost in close proximity and simply they use your roof as a comfy perching spot having a nice vantage point over their feeding area.
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June 3rd, 2015

Drill or no Drill – Balcony Netting Drilling Facts

Drilling concrete.“The Building Management says we can’t drill to install balcony netting, because it damages the concrete and the structure of the building.” We hear this often from customers who are eventually left to cope with their balconies full of crap.

The statement is simply not true, drilling into the concrete of the building doesn’t cause any damage whatsoever, provided that it is done professionally, the way it should be. Continue reading