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Bleacher Birds B Gone


MARCH 4, 2008

Good Afternoon,

Wrigley Field in Chicago has been battling a pest bird problem in its upper bleachers for years. After trying various products, and fielding many complaints from fans, netting was finally installed to humanely block birds from sitting in the rafters. Now the maintenance department says the bird problem is no more.

From facility managers, to homeowners, many people are unsure of what to do about pest birds. This is because the market is flooded with various products with limited success. In February of 2008 we interviewed the maintenance department at Wrigley Field about the netting, and feel the story offers insight that many could use.


For years the Chicago Cubs have had to share their ballpark with unwanted guests: Pest birds. It seemed Wrigley Field was an ideal spot for birds, providing generous shelter, and an abundant food source.

Birds such as pigeons, seagulls, and starlings had been around the park for awhile, but it was complaints from the fans that prompted a real solution.

Gary Hubbard has worked in Maintenance Operations at Wrigley for the last four years. Gary's seen all sorts of devices implemented to shoo the winged pests away. "We've used a sticky gel, Owls, Sound Devices, and nothing seemed to work" said Hubbard of past attempts.

Hubbard explained that during games "pigeons and starlings would sit in the rafters above the upper deck and descend upon the bleaches to feed once to fans left." Some of the fans sitting in the upper deck were being bombarded with bird droppings.

After continuous complaints poured in, the maintenance department sought a solution that would take care of the problem once and for all.

That's when they called Bird-B-Gone, a company in California that specializes in Bird Control. The sales team at Bird-B-Gone recommended Bird Net 2000, a heavy duty polyethylene net that would prevent birds from entering the rafter area altogether.

Bird-B-Gone sales staff explained the importance of altering the environment. If the rafters were blocked off, the birds would have no where to roost. If the roosting spot was taken away, the birds had no where to wait for food scraps.

Changing the behavior of the pest birds would be the most successful approach.

Bird Netting has been installed at Wrigley now for the past few years. Hubbard said that the Bird Net 2000 "has solved 9/10ths of the bird problem," explaining that seagulls still land on the field during games.

In the past few years, Wrigley Field has seen many changes. In 2005, an expansion project saw the removal of some of the last remaining pieces of the original building. Earlier this year it was announced that Wrigley Field may be changing hands, and getting a new name. As for a positive change, Wrigley has now finally taken care of the pest birds in the upper deck.


Jerry "Bleacher Preacher" Pritikin writes:

During the summer of '47, my dad bought me a baseball uniform from Sears Roebucks for $6.95 and it came with iron-on letters spelling YANKEES. I recall taking a scissors and rearranging the letters so they spelled CUBS. The first time I wore it was to go to a Cubs game against the Pirates. I bought a scorecard for a dime and decided that I was going to keep a perfect card to show my dad when I got home. I was able to get a few autographs of future members of the Hall of Fame on that card . . . Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg.

My brother and I sat down the left field line in the grandstand beneath the upper deck. After getting the line-up from Pat Pipper, I took my time keeping score; with each batter, I made sure that everything was perfect. In fact I never even used the eraser.

Then, in the sixth inning, it happened. Out of nowhere, a pigeon scored a direct hit from the overhead rafters beneath the upper deck grandstands right onto my scorecard. It might as well have been an atomic bomb! But in a way, I was lucky, because none of the excess landed on my baseball cap or uniform. But the scorecard, made with my best penmanship and autographs, was a complete loss.

It did leave a lasting impression on me, because I never kept a scorecard after that game. And maybe that's the reason why I found a new place to watch the games: in the Bleachers, where, in the 50 years since, I have never been a target of the pigeons and birds that fly in and around the Friendly Confines.


Also: Lament of The Bleacher Preacher.

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