By Jillian Ruffino
Published in the April 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
What is your position? How many years have you been in the facility management profession?
Ihave been the building operations manager for the Kansas CityConvention and Entertainment Centers in Kansas City, MO for 20 years.
Please give a brief description of the facility involved in this project.
Thiscity-operated complex consists of six buildings housing two millionsquare feet of exhibit halls, meeting space, food service, andentertainment venues. Over a million visitors come to the conventioncenter every year.
Why was the decision made to pursue this project for the facility?
Atone point, thousands of starlings flocked to the Kansas City Conventionand Entertainment Centers. Birds were everywhere—in the trees, aroundthe buildings, and on the rooftops. The birds were out of control, andthe sidewalks were a mess. Nightly power washings were necessary toremove the recurring bird droppings.
There were significanthealth concerns, because birds often carry disease. We do a lot of foodservice in the Centers, and the last thing anybody wants around food isbacteria from bird droppings.
The Exhibit Hall, which isalmost half a million square feet, was vulnerable. We regularly hadbirds flying inside after entering through the loading dock doors. Withexhibitors mounting large booths and displays, the doors were open fordelivery for long periods of time, including during setup and breakdownbefore and after each convention.
Why was there such a pervasive bird control problem at this particular location?
Ourbuildings are located between the heart of the city and an area calledWest Bottom. West Bottom is a gathering place for livestock, and it iswhere the birds come to feed every day before they return to the cityat night to roost in the warmth of downtown buildings. The ConventionCenter is a convenient midway rest stop on the starlings’ daily roundtrip.
We added a 250,000 square foot expansion to ourexhibit hall that was directly in their flyway. Instead of going pastthe Centers to their normal stop, they started roosting here. Theproblem then went from a few birds to tens of thousands of birds.
Please describe the decision making and research process for this project.
Inan attempt to curtail the onslaught of starlings, we cut down sometrees. That moved the birds briefly, but they soon found new perchesand landing spots. Next, we tried blasting the birds with air horns andscaring them off by hanging flashy objects in the trees.
Wealso obtained CD recordings of birds, including distress calls, fromthe county agricultural center. There were different sounds withdifferent frequency settings, and we tried them all. But we still had abird control problem.
In retrospect, the secret to birdcontrol is to keep the birds from coming in the first place. A goodsolution is to use a sonic repeller (as we ultimately chose) as apreventive measure. Birds are creatures of habit, and you need to breaktheir habits in a compelling manner.
What was the vendor selection process like?
Iheard about a device called BirdXPeller made by Bird-X, Inc., aChicago, IL-based manufacturer and distributor of pest controlproducts. We had tried several other products before BirdXPellerwithout much success.
What led you to choose the specific solution that you did?
Repellerswere easy for our crew to install, and they were effective immediately.After we wired sonic repellers into trees, on the buildings, and at theloading dock doors, the birds stopped coming inside and eating on thefloor.
How did this project affect your operations and maintenance practices?
Weeliminated the bird droppings issue and this maintenance item isresolved. It saves us thousands of dollars in equipment and manpowerevery year.
What was the most professionally rewarding aspect of this project?
We were able to solve this ongoing issue at a very reasonable cost and greatly improved our customers’ opinions of our facility.