Every weekday evening near sunset I take the bus up Lamar Boulevard here in Austin, TX, and as the weather started getting colder the concentration of roosting birds started to increase near downtown. The trees in front of BookPeople just past 6th Street are packed with Grackles, and when the bus door opens at the stop there, the vehicle is flooded with a cacophony of bird sound. It's an amazing noise in passing, although perhaps not so charming if you hear hours of it everday. Then there's the poop speckling the sidewalk along this stretch. The uric acid in the feces can corrode the material over time. Then you have the potential clogging of gutters and pipes with nests. So, while I enjoy my moment of the bird roosting ritual in passing, I also understand that it's a nuisance for many business owners.
So, how does one manage such a nuisance? One option is a range of active bird warfare techniques that involve pyrothecnics, bird fog, gas-operated exploders, exploding shotgun shells, visual scaring devices, recorded bird distress calls, and falconry. Here are some sample images of such equipment as can be found on sites such as ABC Advanced Bird Control.
Then you have your standard range of design options, such as bird spikes or netting, or the electrical tracking if you want to get fancy.
But could we as landscape architects and urban designers take things further? Could we design bird-resistant landscapes? First you bury all the power lines so they can't sit on those or the poles. Then you get rid of the trees so there are fewer nesting options. Plant only noxious shrubs so they've nothing to eat. Building rooftops might need to have tight eliptical radii edges that provide no perch. Throw in lots of randow bird spikes here and there. Float a bunch of the scare balloons, or place animatronic owls on every rooftop. Encourage local after-school falconry groups. Sponsor civic fireworks shows every evening at sunset. I can see it now...