In recent years, food and beverage processing industries have become subject to intense scrutiny of regulatory agencies, government institutions, and third-party auditors. As a result, managers of food processing plants have started to pay more attention to the many hazards posed by physical, chemical, and microbial contaminants.
Flies, cockroaches, rodents, and ants are known carriers of disease and pathogens, and many food and beverage processing plants have various procedures in place to identify, treat, and prevent infestations. However, not many of them think of birds as a pest, despite the fact that they carry dozens of bacteria, parasites, and disease-causing pathogens that are just as dangerous to food safety and human health.
The three most notorious pest birds – sparrows, pigeons, and starlings – are common in and around industrial and commercial facilities such as food processing plants, restaurants, and grocery stores, because many of them offer food, water, and safe harbor.
You might have seen your first European Starling sitting on a telephone wire in your backyard or perched on a branch in the city park. If you looked closely, you were probably impressed with its purple and green iridescence, cream-tipped feathers, and the white polka dots that make it look like it came straight out of a painting.
And it’s not even just the exquisite look what makes this bird so special. Adaptable, intelligent, and highly resourceful, the European Starling managed to get from a population of just 100 birds (when it was first introduced in America in the 1890s) to being one of the most successful birds on the continent, currently counting over 200 million in North America alone.
And yet, few people are actually fond of European Starlings. Their reputation is that of a garden pest, a crop destroyer, and a bird feeder bully; instead of “beautiful” or “clever,” most often they are described as loud, obnoxious, and utterly destructive.