Are bird droppings hazardous? Here’s the science behind bird poop.

Written by Elizabeth Price, Bird-X Blogger

Anyone with a bird problem knows all too well about the nuisance it leaves behind – bird poop. Whether it’s goose poop on the sidewalk or gull guano on your car, we can all agree that it is gross, to say the least. As a customer service rep here at Bird-X, I hear countless stories about birds being a problem and the chief complaint is that they leave their droppings everywhere. From pool decks to cars, to commercial buildings, customers are plagued with the costly issue of having to clean up this disgusting problem. Aesthetically speaking, no one likes to see a large pile of bird feces, but the droppings can cause damage and create a health risk. A bird control program that keeps pest birds away is ideal – but if the damage is already done, here’s what you need to know about dealing with pest bird poop.

Structural & Aesthetic Damage

Bird droppings contain uric acid which, if left, can easily stain fabrics and eat through paints (most commonly seen on vehicles). It’s been well-documented that bird droppings can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage to structures if left untreated and uncleaned. For example, pigeons caused $48,000 USD of damage to a historic church in Solon, Maine. Recently, pigeons have made headlines again after their fecal matter caused over $20,000 USD of damage to a historic gothic cathedral in Slovakia.

Health Risks

Birds are known to carry over 60 diseases and parasites, many of which can cause severe illness in humans. Bird droppings also contain various organisms and insects that can be a problem for those that come in direct contact. People with lung or other health conditions should avoid dried bird droppings as much as possible. When large quantities of dried bird poop are disrupted, the particles become airborne and cause irritation in the bronchial passage. Worse, this can transmit fungal diseases such as Histoplasmosis or Cryptococcosis. These diseases are caused by fungal spores within the poop and can even contaminate soil that is overexposed. If a large quantity of bird poop is disturbed by excavation, construction, or demolition, it can become aerosolized and travel with dust particles to infect others nearby.

Steps for Safe Removal

Birds are attracted back to familiar places where they have left their scent, so removing the droppings creates a ‘clean slate’ in more ways than one. Proper cleanup of the bird poop is essential – not only to protect those in that area – but also to increase the effectiveness of any bird deterrent items in use. Also, the installation of deterrents, such as bird spikes or Bird Proof Gel, can be less effective with the presence of bird poop. The layer of droppings interferes with the barrier adhering to the surface properly.

As explained, bird droppings are hazardous. First, it is imperative to have the proper protective attire when removing the droppings, so you should evaluate the severity of the issue. For small amounts of poop, like one or two spots on your car, make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands and any other areas that come in direct contact with the droppings. It’s a good idea to wear plastic gloves. A protective mask is essential in protecting yourself and others when dealing with any significant quantity of bird poop. Plastic gloves and protective eyewear are also highly recommended. For extra precaution, cover or seal any heating/cooling vents to ensure any dried dust particles do not spread. With severe cases, it is best to call in trained, fully-equipped decontamination professionals so as to avoid all risk. In such hazardous settings, full protective clothing and a respirator mask are imperative in ensuring safety. Above all, never send children, untrained amateurs or anyone in poor health to clean up affected areas.

For best results, use a cleaner specifically labeled for bird droppings. Bird Dropping cleaners contain probiotic microbes that are bred to be especially effective on urine and fecal material, making it faster and more efficient to remove the build-up than traditional cleaners. Adding water to dried deposits helps to loosen them.

To ensure that this is not an ongoing issue, you will want to have any bird deterrent materials on hand so that when the task of cleaning is done, installation can begin right away. Accurate assessment of the area is imperative in choosing proper bird deterrents. We recommend hiring a bird control professional as the first line of defense for moderate and severe cases.

Now, What to Do with the Droppings?

Believe it or not, bird poop is a great additive to any fertilizer or compost. The phosphorus in the droppings and other nutrients makes it highly beneficial to your garden, especially for green vegetables.  Make sure it is covered with compost to avoid the risk of airborne contamination. If you don’t plan to recycle the droppings for fertilizer, the droppings must be double bagged, secured, and left in the trash disposal bin to be taken to the landfill.

Did You Know?

Bird excrement is actually a mixture of all the bird’s waste products, both digestive and urinary. Birds poop whenever they take flight, to avoid the energy cost of carrying any waste material with them.  Parent birds will fly off the nest carrying gel-coated sacs of droppings from their offspring, to conceal their whereabouts and deposit them far from the nest.  They are especially attracted to bodies of water on these missions since water hides droppings better than land, which is why parent birds keep dropping poop in your swimming pool.

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2 replies
  1. Patrick Porter
    Patrick Porter says:

    We have birds living in our barn; swallows come and go, and another bird makes nests there too. I recently noticed a small heap of decaying feathers on the barn floor I think was a dead bird—but the odd thing was, it seemed to be covered with white bird droppings. There was no nest overhead, it looked like birds had pooped on this pile deliberately. I’d never seen this before, I wonder if anybody else had.


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