In a recent 'Ask Real Estate' letter to The New York Times, an Upper East Side co-op resident lamented the flock of pigeons perpetually perched on the building’s window ledges, leaving behind droppings and feathers like unsavory calling cards. The column suggested that the resident contact the board and management to fix the problem, including having the droppings cleaned and strongly encouraging the birds to nest somewhere else. Additionally, a pest management professional quoted in the piece advised using an optical gel, a deterrent he characterized as “awesome.”
If none of those strategies seems like a catch-all solution, that is likely because when it comes to shooing - and keeping - pest birds away, there isn't any catch-all. Neither all birds nor all buildings are the same - yet birds and buildings go together like bees and...well, birds. At high-rises, the problems are self-evident, as residents increasingly encroach on what has long been the birds' terrain. But even low-rises have roofs that can draw in flocks, leaving behind unseemly traces and airborne assaults.
When people gripe about birds in New York City, they're really referring to pigeons, which are both hallmarks of the city and the most consistent avian headache in the lives of residents.
“I have found that pigeons look for empty apartments to land in,” says Steve Gold, President of Hudson View Associates, a real estate firm in New York City. “We have actually opened the shades so that the birds can see that the apartment is occupied, which sometimes helps in moving them from that location.” Outside of psychological warfare, Gold notes that one can use silicone to apply aluminum strips specially designed with little spikes to the window sills on which the pigeons usually rest. The spikes irritate the birds' feet, making the ledge an unappealing roosting spot and therefore keeping the birds at bay.
Echoing that last point, Steve Elbaz, founder and president of Brooklyn-based Esquire Management Corp. indicates that “There are companies that can come in to furnish and install spikes on window ledges and sills, roof lines, overhangs, things like that. And they've been extremely effective. Once you put them in, the birds go elsewhere. That's the cut-and-dry solution.”