It’s end of a sunny day in June, and the sun is setting over the Windy City. A gentle breeze is coming off Lake Michigan, and a gorgeous evening beckons. You pour a glass of wine and throw open the door to your condo's balcony to take in the magnificent view of Lakeshore Drive and the sparkling water beyond. Leaning on the railing, you're about to take a sip—and out of nowhere swoops an angry seagull, buffeting the air with its wings and squawking with menace. There is suddenly no lingering over the view as more gulls appear, clearly unhappy with you, and determined to defend what they apparently consider their territory. Your lovely evening on the balcony has taken a nightmarish turn, and you have no choice but to retreat indoors or risk being pecked to death.
Think that scenario sounds too Hitchcockian to be true? Think again. Here in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, it's not just seagulls that make property owners and managers crazy—according to Chrissy Hansen, marketing manager for Chicago-based avian control company Bird-X, "Pigeons are probably the number-one pest bird everywhere in the U.S. but we also have starlings, as well as geese and gulls." Regardless of whether your property is an urban high-rise or a sprawling suburban HOA, you're not immune to the hassle of pest birds.
Ruling the Roost
When birds aren't on the wing, they're feeding and/or roosting – and most birds are experts when it comes to identifying cozy-looking places to congregate, feed, and build nests. As it happens, many of those cozy-looking spots are man-made.
If you're at a loss as to why your condo is overrun with flocks of birds like pigeons or grackles, take a look upward. According to bird control experts, the problem often begins with architecture. "If your building has large, commercial HVAC equipment raised on legs above the roof surface, it creates virtual bird condos," says one bird pro.
“Geese bother people a lot in condos," says Rebecca Fyffe, a wildlife educator with ABC Wildlife and the Wildlife Control Policy Institute in Chicago and of Chicago Wildlife Management and Consulting. "If a goose could make us do what it wanted us to do in terms of landscaping for its pleasure, it would look like exactly what we do at condo developments. The grass would be cut short, there would be a pond, and there would be no tall plants around the pond. We’re landscaping to attract geese."