U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Document Type


Date of this Version



Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 388– 394; doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.11.014


Transfer stations are an important component of modern solid waste management systems. Solid waste management facilities (e.g., landfills) are very attractive to and used by many birds, resulting in a variety of health and safety problems, including disease transmission to humans and increased risk of wildlife–aircraft collisions. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration recommends municipal solid waste management facilities (e.g., landfills, transfer stations) not be sited within 8 km of an airport. Little information is available regarding the attractiveness of transfer stations to birds or the factors that might influence avian use, particularly on a national scale. The objectives of my study were to: (1) quantify avian use of transfer stations, (2) determine if building design features influence their attractiveness to birds, and (3) determine if other factors (e.g., season, geographic location, operational procedures) influence bird use. Twenty-nine waste transfer facilities and 4 control sites, located in 7 states (representative of various U.S. geographical regions) were studied. Avian abundance and activity was quantified at each facility and control site twice per week for one year. Nuisance bird species commonly observed using transfer stations (e.g., feeding on refuse) included gulls, European starlings, and crows. Patterns of wildlife use at transfer stations varied by season, geographic location, transfer station building design, and on-site management characteristics. Overall, this study demonstrates that wildlife use of transfer stations, particularly by nuisance birds, can be substantial.