By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor
Have you ever walked into your local grocery store minding your own business and out of your peripheral vision, you spot a bird flying by? How did it get there and how long do they stay in the store? Do they live here? I sought to find out the answers to these questions because I too have wondered these things.
I was shopping at our local HEB, when a bird flew right over my head. This isn’t new to me; I’ve witnessed birds in grocery stores when I was a youngling shopping with my mother, but now that I’m aware of food-borne illnesses, I felt that I had to find out more details. To start off, grocery stores have large automatic doors that open almost every few seconds to let people in and out of the stores. The first preventative measure stores use to keep insects and birds from entering the store are the high speed air blowing mechanisms that are installed above the door. Yes, those things that always make you flinch when you walk into the store. If birds seem to pass beyond the door, they flock to the ceilings, and that’s how most people spot the birds. Pest control is usually called, but sometimes not caught in time or never caught due to being almost impossible. One of the last things that we need to happen is having our food contaminated by a bird.
Birds are considered pests, and they tend to hang out around grocery stores quite often here in Texas. The Grackle, which are birds from Mexico, share the exact same patterns in Mexico as they do here in Texas – they love to sleep in large groups and nearby one another. During sundown, these birds gather letting each other know it’s time for bed while also making it least likely that they are attacked by a predator.
With the constant population of birds near grocery store parking lots, the chances of them ending up inside the store are higher. There are serious diseases that can be spread from birds having contact with the food in our grocery stores that we could potentially be taking home with us. Stores can spend anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars to catch birds, “some of the other services we offer are bird spike installation, bird netting and other professional bird control measures.” And some birds actually never get caught and either begins nesting or die before they leave the store.
The priority and goal is to keep the grocery stores disease free and the birds safe. Cages could ultimately cause harm to a bird’s beaks if they try to escape when caught. Malls and airports also have the same problems and are using traps called the Sparrow Trap Door to rescue birds inside buildings while being safe, humane, and discrete. Some even have an audio attractor that has proven to catch more birds and can run on various schedules so that visitors are unaware of such issues.
Keep your eyes out for birds the next time you’re traveling through an airport, grocery store, or any large atrium and keep employees aware of the sightings of insects, birds, and small animals to continue the work of making sure humans and animals stay safe and where they belong!
Featured image by Alexandra Cochran.