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


Date of this Version



International Journal of Pest Management Vol. 57, No. 4, October–December 2011, 357–362; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09670874.2011.621983.


Understanding how birds detect and react to deterrent methods which are employed to protect structures is important both for the effective control of property damage, and to ensure that human health and safety are not compromised. One such device is a shock strip that causes slight pain to birds when they use a perch. Our aims were to determine: (1) the efficacy of a shock strip to flocks of Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater), and Rock Pigeons (Columba livia); (2) the length of time to extinction of effect; (3) whether members of a flock show a behavioural response to treatment; and (4) whether the birds habituate to the treatment. When activated, shock strips were effective in displacing birds from treated areas. Birds had to experience the treatment; there was no discernible indication of flock members reacting to affected birds. When strips were deactivated after an initial period of activation, birds required more than 2 hours to return to treated areas. No habituation was observed. Because birds had to experience the shock, reduced coverage of a structure or use of sham devices to lower costs is considered inadvisable.