Sanitation Is For The Birds

Shout out to Sara Thibadeau, Sales at Bird Buffer, for providing the information for this post.


I am not necessarily a bird watcher, but I do think they are interesting creatures. I find it fascinating that birds, somewhat, defy gravity. Wings spread out to the sides, coasting effortlessly through the sky. I know not all birds are capable of flying at intense heights, and the only place a turkey is going is on my dinner table.

When I lived in my mom’s house, she had a macaw. That green and yellow, squawking bird and I, had a love-hate relationship. I would sit on the floor to read a newspaper, and she would steal my Cool Ranch Doritos from the bag. Sly as Cookie was, she wouldn’t let me hand feed her. The tortilla chips probably aren’t the best diet for a house bird, but the sneaky behavior was hilarious.

Cleaning The Cage

No one in the house wanted the chore of cleaning the bird cage. Partially chewed frozen vegetables, sunflower seed hulls, crumbs of walnuts all left a mess. Then there is the other issue – bird poop. You know, the garbage in, garbage out function. Since Cookie basically had the run of the house, droppings weren’t just contained to the cage. That meant all of us housemates were being exposed to diseases, their symptoms, and some pretty serious health complications.

As much as I hate to admit this, I have been struck on top of my head by a “fly by”. Uuggh! I was in the middle of a softball game, and used my water jug to clean it off. We lost the game, but that’s a story for another time.

Way before my pest professional days, I thought it was just gross. I had no idea how a direct exposure could potentially affect me.


I have some experience with commercial hog farm operations. It was there that I learned about Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE), a bird disease that has some horrible effects on piglets. Carried by starlings, pigs ingest the viral spores and become sick with vomiting and diarrhea. When left untreated, TGE can have some dire consequences to the hog population.

Chickens aren’t immune to transmission of diseases either. Mites found on their bodies can carry encephalitis, and may cause dermatitis in humans.

Pigeon nests can host yellow mealworms. These commonly are found grain products, and cause intestinal distress when consumed in breakfast cereals.


When deciding to clean up the bird mess, the proper personal protective equipment is totally necessary. It would consist of gloves, safety glasses, safety shoes, a head covering like a hard hat, appropriate respiratory protection, and a non-permeable suit. Some type of cleaning agent to dissolve and absorb the droppings is the preferred method.

I’m sure you all are tired of “Stay Safe”, but take heed. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with Histoplasmosis. It was a long tedious process to get to the cause of her illness, and treatment has now begun. This really is serious stuff.

Published by Melisa Arnold, A.C.E.

My career in pest management began while working in a flour mill as the “in-house” technician in 2008. I am certified in multiple states. I began working full time as a fumigation-pest control tech in 2010. I achieved my Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) in 2018. I have a Master Tech certification from Kansas State University/Kansas Pest Control Association. I hold a Bat Management certification from NWCOA. Every day, I realize how much I DON’T KNOW. My goal for this blog is to share my every day experiences from the field and to make us all think outside the box for solutions to make pest control make sense.

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