There are a number of simple techniques that can be employed to make your building less attractive to gulls. Broadly these can be split into two distinct categories. The first is to ‘design-out’ nesting sites in the first place. The second concerns attaching other structures to deter the birds. The latter can be retro-fitted, but the former is probably more effective.
As discussed, flat roofs are the favourite nesting sites for these birds. Modern office and commercial buildings provide ideal sites. Without suggesting that the whole design process should focus on gulls, a few points should be kept in mind.
Nests require something to grip onto. If the roof is on a slope then a smooth surface will be less attractive. Generally, on a smooth roof such as a typical commercial ‘crinkly tin’ building, a roof plane of more than 25 degrees will tend to be too steep. Any less than this and gulls will be attracted to it. Small interruptions in the roof plane on any building can provide enough purchase for a gull nest. This may have to be included in your design to accommodate a stairwell or some plant housing. If it can’t be designed-out, make sure a nest cannot be easily built by using spikes or wires (see diagram).
Modern flat-roofed office and residential buildings provide ideal nesting areas. Designing-out nesting sites in such buildings may well be impractical. Netting or other protective measures may not be wanted for aesthetic reasons or because of the cost of installation and maintenance. If this is the case then ease of access can make a significant difference to any owner/occupiers ability to deal with the birds in a cost effective way. Access to all the roof area without the need for climbing boards or ladders can make the maintenance of the roof far more straightforward. If gulls do take up residence, blocked gullies, vents and similar features will become a problem. Easy roof access can help deal with this.If the eggs are to be treated in some way, e.g. through WRS chargeable egg replacement service, easy access is fundamental. If access is not straightforward and safe, the council is unable to take action. The harder it is to get to nests, the more expensive it will be to treat them. For residential buildings, roof gardens are seen as preferable. They allow easy access and, if used frequently, they will be a deterrent in themselves to a colony establishing on a roof. Roof gardens have other benefits, such as attenuating rainwater run off and insulating buildings, though care must be taken with over-looking other buildings and in historic areas.
For flat and pitched roofs, if rain water is harvested, precautions should be taken to prevent contamination with guano (bird faeces) and other debris.
Spikes and wires:
Netting is the most common form of prevention and can be retrofitted to most buildings. However, it can look ugly and careful siting and design will be needed to minimise its appearance. Netting comes in a range of colours so it is important that an appropriate shade is chosen. Where the netting will be close-fitting to the roof it may be more acceptable to choose a netting colour to match the roof materials. Where the netting is to be located above the roof plane, so that sky is visible between the roof and the netting (when viewed from the street), a transparent or neutral colour would be more appropriate. Vivid or fluorescent colours should be avoided as they stand out unnecessarily.
Another important consideration when using netting as a solution is the visual impact to wider views across the area. Of particular concern are views of historic monuments. These may be views from the street or from other buildings such as offices or multistory car parks. Locating the netting further back on the roof and using a combination of methods such as wires or spikes, will help to minimise the visual impact from the street.
These procedures are not necessarily foolproof and birds can make nests on top of them. Remember, gulls and other birds may become snagged in the netting. Not only does this cause unnecessary distress and suffering for the birds, but can create unfavorable publicity for the building owner. As a guide, a mesh size of 75mm is generally considered most appropriate for gulls.
The fitting of netting, spikes or any other structure to listed buildings or those buildings within conservation areas should be undertaken with special care and sensitivity. In most cases Listed Building Consent or planning permission will be required. Before undertaking any works please contact your local Planning Office.
Action to protect public health and safety which involves the disturbance, destruction or removal of Herring or Lesser Black-backed gulls eggs or nest will require an Individual Licence from Natural England.
Customers should contact WRS if they require assistance to register their interest for egg replacement or advice.
Egg replacement is currently focused on Worcester City centre and specific locations around the periphery where there have been issues of concern. If you own or are tenant of a city property which traditionally has nesting gulls and have been negatively impactedit by the gulls, it may be possible to include your property in the treatment programme. If you wish to be considered for inclusion in the treatment programme please complete the on-line form
If you own or tenant of a large roof in city, with regular nesting upon which you are considering undertaking maintenance or cosmetic work, it may be possible to work with you in deterring gulls from using your building with a red roof trial. If you wish to be considered for inclusion in this trial please complete the on-line form
All manner of scaring techniques have been tried in many cities across the country. Many appear to be a waste of money, though more innovative systems are currently being developed. The following have proved to be less than helpful.
For more information on Gull Control work in Worcester City click here.
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