Last updated on July 5th, 2017 at 03:38 pm
by Lorrie Griffith/editor-in-chief
A bird inside a retail store can cause thousands of dollars in damage in a short amount of time, so it’s imperative that the manager acts fast to get the bird, or birds, back outside where they belong.
The question is who to call. Some try their local humane society, but its role typically is to serve the county’s residents, not businesses. Others call pest control companies, but they may not be skilled in humane relocation of birds, and animal rescue companies may not be equipped with the tools and equipment to capture birds.
The truth is, “a lot of facility managers just don’t know what to do when it comes to bird issues,” says Beverly Glass, an account manager for Virginia-based Meridian Bird Removal Services, which was founded in 2010 as a nuisance animal control company and now specializes in birds.
Glass joined the company in November 2016, and “it’s been exciting for me to educate and help the facility managers know who to call,” she said. “I’ve come across stores that have had birds in there for six months and they just didn’t know what to do.”
But they have to do something, because even a little bird can wreak havoc. One of Glass’s customers had a sparrow in his grocery store that was causing about $2,500 a day in product damage. Many people don’t realize that some birds eat meat, but this little bird was going straight for the filet mignon after the store closed.
“The damage they can do is just amazing,” she said. “You can see the claw marks on the plastic wrap on the meat. All of those have to be pulled out and thrown away.
“Birds look for three things,” Glass continued. “Shelter, food and water. And the grocery store has all of it.”
Ceiling structures in many of today’s stores are another draw for the birds.
“The high ceilings and the rafters are a great place to nest. A lot of them are like tree limbs.”
When the automatic doors open, one or more birds are sometimes ready to make their move, she added.
From her office in North Carolina, Glass works with facility managers, grocery retailers and big-box stores to help solve their bird issues. Meridian’s BRTs—bird removal technicians—humanely capture and relocate birds to their natural environment. And the bird removal process does not require stores or warehouses to shut down nor does it disrupt the flow of customers, she adds.
For some stores and facilities, birds are an issue practically every day; for others, it’s a sporadic problem, she said. Customers can call Meridian on a case-by-case basis or sign a contract for ongoing monitoring and service.
With a contract, “we’ll come in monthly even if they don’t have any issues and do an inspection and look for any possible holes,” Glass said. “We’ll make sure that birds aren’t working their way through bricks or wood or stucco buildings.”
Plans for national coverage
Meridian’s corporate offices are in Christiansburg, Virginia, but its BRTs are located in markets from Texas eastward, up to Wisconsin and over to New York.
All of the BRTs are employed by Meridian, which has patents pending on both its capture gear and capture process. The company offers four services to help control nuisance bird issues: interior bird removal, exterior population reductions, nest removal and full facility inspections. The company also provides guidance on how to prevent future issues.
The company says a majority its workforce has bachelor’s degrees, with many in wildlife biology, and more than 40 percent of its workforce and technicians are women. A number of veterans also are employed by Meridian.
“Today, we deliver service to the nation’s largest retailers and are in the process of expanding with the goal of having nationwide service available,” according to Meridian’s website.
Glass, who came to Meridian from the hospitality industry, says that while the industries may be different, customer service principles are the same—helping customers is the bottom line.
“My passion in life is to help and serve others, so this has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get out there and help and serve the community and the grocery store facilities,” Glass said. “This company’s core values are just awesome; people are not just employees; they’re part of the team.”
The company’s core values are: Be Above the Bar; Eagerly Optimistic; Adapt and Overcome; Commitment to Capture; Humbly Confident; and Help First.