| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free ebook on Ultra-High-Pressure Waterjetting

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

NC DOT ‘Bangs’ Birds from Bridges

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More items for Program/Project Management

Comment | More

The 1,000 or so double-crested cormorants that used to coat the Wrightsville Beach, NC, drawbridge with their corrosive droppings have been dispatched—with a bang.

double-crested cormorant

So have their feathered brethren at Surf City, NC. The North Carolina Department of Transportation, fed up with the cormorants leaving a mess on the towns’ bridges (not to mention nearby parks, marina and homes), have recently turned to a pyrotechnic called “Bird Bangers” to rid the towns of the birds.

Bird Bangers, similar to firecrackers, are fired from a specially designed pyrotechnic gun into the air—away from the birds. The cartridge explodes with a loud bang about 100 feet away, driving the birds to find an alternative roost, experts say.

Bird Bangers

‘We Bother the Birds to Move On’

“This is a non-lethal way to encourage the cormorants to find another roost,” said Amanda T. Glynn, PE, division bridge program manager for NCDOT. “The basic principle is that we bother the birds enough to move on. Hopefully, it will convince them there are more hospitable places for them to roost.”

The project has been a cooperative effort by NCDOT, which owns the bridges; the two towns; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s division of wildlife services.

The state and the towns have been searching for years for a way to safely disperse the cormorants, which roost by the hundreds on power lines over the town bridges.

“There will be as many as 1,000 at a time over the park and marina,” said Wrightsville Beach town manager Bob Simpson. “It just inundates with their droppings. It’s like snow.”

Maintenance Challenge

A series of dry winters with little rain to wash away the chronic mess hasn’t helped, causing a major maintenance challenge, Simpson said. Residents complain about the smell (Simpson called the aroma “significant”), and DOT is concerned about the integrity of the bridges.

“It was pretty significant all over the bridges,” said Glynn. “It was eating the bridge steel.” Intensive maintenance has prevented damage to the integrity of the bridge so far, she added.

Last but not least, Simpson said, birds were getting zapped on the power lines, and the town regularly had to dispose of carcasses.

A Blessing with a Bang

Surf City, NC, successfully used four or five rounds of Bird Bangers last fall to disperse the birds from its swing span bridge, and Wrightsville Beach is finding success after just one round, said Jordan Miller, a wildlife services specialist with USDA. Miller helped design Surf City’s program and was the “bird banger” on the ground who fired off about 30 of the explosives last week, to send the cormorants of Wrightsville Beach packing.

A weekend check of the site, several days after the rounds were fired, found no birds, Miller said. Two birds eventually landed on the wires but then flew off. “Without the numbers there, they’re not going to consider it a safe roost site,” he said.

Simpson has noticed the difference, too. He used to see 300 to 800 birds on the lines during his morning and evening commutes, he said, and he has not seen one since last week.

“It was kind of a blessing, because we’ve been dealing with it every winter season,” he said. The town tried to see if the power company could put up some special line to discourage the birds. When that didn’t work, officials met with someone who said he could generate sound waves to drive off the birds, “but he wanted $10,000 and that wasn’t happening.”

‘A Sensitive Issue’

The Bangers seem “to have been very effective,” Simpson says. The state and town “took a lot of grief from the local press and the environmentalists. But it doesn’t do any damage to the birds. It really did work.”

Miller, of USDA, will be monitoring the outcome for his agency and DOT. If the birds return—which can happen if there is no suitable alternative roost—another round may be in order.

Miller said Wildlife Services had successfully used bird-dispersing pyrotechnics across the country. Although it is a low-cost, effective method, he warns that the products are strictly regulated and, like any gun or explosive, can cause harm if mishandled.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms requires that users complete a Wildlife Control Statement before purchasing Bird Bangers, and the product is shipped as hazardous material.

“It seems like a real simple task and it can be, but it’s a sensitive issue,” said Miller. “The nice thing about this kind of project is that it’s a cooperative effort. We’ll work together and see what happens.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Corrosion; Corrosion inhibitors; Corrosion protection

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

SAFE Systems, Inc.
SAFE Systems'
Blast Lights &
Deadman Switches

Halogen or LED blast lights available with our NEW urethane bumper. Switches available in many colors for color coding your hoses.

Chicago Corrosion Group
Vendor-neutral corrosion consulting

What you don’t know about painting is costing you a fortune. Call today to see how CCG’s vendor-neutral, owner’s advocacy saves our clients millions.

Armakleen Company, The
ARMEX when nondestructive cleaning is critical

The gentle physical propriety of baking soda but yet aggressive cleaning ability is what makes ARMEX the only choice for nondestructive abrasive blasting.

Wasser High-Tech Coatings Inc.
Wasser Coatings Protect

Wasser Coatings offer a complete range of Moisture Cure Urethane (NEPCOAT approved) systems in addition to Polyurea membranes and linings(NSF).

Termarust Technologies
Termarust (HR CSA) Chemically Stops
Active Corrosion

Truss bridge treated with Termarust's (HR CSA) in 1995. This highway & rail truss bridge is still stable and there still is no active corrosion.

Atlantic Design, Inc.

The most air flow possible… In the smallest package imaginable… For a price you won’t believe! 866.Call.ADI

Minerals Research & Recovery


“Made in the USA!”

Why recycle waste from other countries? Go FASTER, CLEANER, at 1/3 THE COST with MR&R “All-American” Sharpshot®HP!!


U.S. Zinc
Historic Reliability. Innovative Performance.

Our products are essential ingredients in many materials used around the globe every day. Historic reliability. Innovative performance. U.S. Zinc - Helping the world work™

HoldTight Solutions Inc.

Our HoldTight®102 salt remover & flash rush inhibitor prevents flash rust by removing surface contaminants.
Contact us for your nearest distributor. (800) 319.8802

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail