Spring is here and the birds are flying north and building nests for their chicks. Birds are very important for the ecosystem, but in a horse barn, it’s a recipe for disaster!
My buddy Polly (the bird by my stable mate’s withers above) is very pretty and has a lovely voice and would never intentionally hurt me, but the bacteria and pathogens in her body can. Some diseases I can get from birds (and their POOP!) are salmonella or cryptococcosis (a type of fungus).
When it’s cold and everything is frozen, birds search for fresh water and flock around water sources, potentially leaving behind feces, feathers, and sometimes entire bodies. EW! They can also live on the rafters of a barn and poop directly into water or feed buckets. And when horses unknowingly drink or eat from it, they can get extremely sick.
Sometimes birds can indirectly hurt me by passing their diseases through other animals or insects, like mosquitoes. Birds can carry the West Nile Virus, and other viruses that cause equine encephalomyelitis. When a mosquito bites a bird and then bites a horse, it transmits the virus into the horse’s bloodstream. The viruses don’t hurt the birds, but it can make horses very ill.
Here are a few ways to “shoo” birds away in your barn:
- Adopting a barn cat
- Creating a mesh ceiling to prevent them from perching on rafters above feed/water troughs
- Knocking down bird nests
- Removing ANY feed (including cat food) and you can switch from a sweet to a pelleted grain
- Using a noisemaker or a scare device; bring out the Halloween decorations!
- Contacting a pest control company if your horse barn turns into a bird barn.
My owner put up a big, scary balloon to keep the birds away. Sometimes I forget it’s there and it startles me! Unfortunately, this puts a strain on my friendship with Polly, but we both have BIG voices and can still talk to each other. My owner even put a water fountain away from the barn just for her! At least this way, we can both be happy and healthy.
Thank you to my fellow professors and my friends at eXtension for helping with this blog.