WR opts for bird deterrent gel to ensure smoother train journeys
Hits upon plan to keep birds from building nests along overhead wires, which they tend to damage, causing delays in services
By Nilesh Nikade
Posted On Monday, December 14, 2009 at 01:54:23 AM
With the nesting season for crows a few months away, the Western Railway is gearing up to cope with it.
Now, one may wonder what the Railways have to do with the nesting period of crows.
Well, plenty, in fact. For, every year during this period, the birds cause a number of delays as they damage the overhead wires that supply power to suburban trains.
On Sunday, WR invited tenders for supply and application of bird deterrent gel from Virar to Churchgate to deal with the problem. Chief PRO S S Gupta said, “We begin thinking about the menace from early December, as the birds, especially crows, start building nests from January. They prefer the portals that hold the overhead wires to build their nests.”
This spells trouble, as the birds usually build their nests with scraps of wood, metal and what not, and thereby tend to damage overhead wire structures. “Often they damage small parts which could lead to disruption of power supply and result in delays in services.
Crows sometimes get entangled between the train’s pantograph and overhead wires causing serious damage to the pantograph Also, the birds sometimes get entangled between the train’s pantograph and overhead wires, which causes serious damage to the pantograph,” said Gupta.
To avoid the problem, an oil based and thixotropic bird deterrent gel needs to be applied on OHE wires and the portals. When the birds come in contact with the gel they will experience a sticky sensation which they detest, and therefore will avoid the treated surface.
Though work will begin in January, it will take about nine months to cover the entire stretch between Churchgate and Virar. The exercise will cost WR Rs 22.5 lakh, but compared to the damage to OHE and trains components, officials feel it is worth the investment. “Also, the gel is expected to last for years and thereby reduce the number of bird-hits by trains in the next few years,” Gupta added.
Meanwhile, bird lovers have cheered WR’s move to opt for the non-toxic gel to deal with the menace.
“Many organisations use spikes to keep birds away from their machinery, but this leads to birds getting hurt. The gel is a better option,” said Sunish Subramaniam of Plants and Animal Welfare Society.
NEW DELHI: Delhi Metro has finally hit upon a reliable solution to prevent bird hits and short circuits due to nests. Taking the cue from
London's Tube and Chicago Metro, Delhi has installed bird spikes on poles and other electrical installations to prevent the winged creatures from making nests and perching themselves there.
The spikes are not metallic and in no way harm the birds. These just act as a deterrent and do not let the bird perch itself. These plastic spikes are mounted on a flat rectangular plastic mat.
The mats are nailed or pasted with an adhesive on the desired surfaces to keep away the birds. Delhi Metro has been facing a lot of problems in its elevated lines because of birds.
Its first bird hit case was reported as early as November 2003. Operations on Line 1 were disrupted for an hour as a bird got entangled in overhead wires and the electric supply snapped.
Recently, another case was reported causing problems in operations on Line 3 from Barakhamba to Dwarka. This was caused by a wet straw dropped by a bird on an electrical wire. This led to a short-circuit causing disruptions. internationally, the system is in place in London, Chicago and San Francisco. DMRC chief public relations officer Anuj Dayal said: "We have found a solution to this problem with these bird spikes.
We have installed these on insulators, electrical boxes and on poles. It is not a 100% fool-proof system but internationally it has been able to decrease the cases of bird hits and other avian-related issues by 70-75%."
DMRC has installed these spikes mainly on "booms", which connect two electrical poles on Metro tracks. "These booms are very vital. Since they are horizontal bars, they attract a lot of birds.
Sometimes birds get small wire mesh which acts as a conductor between two wires. This causes a short circuit. We have installed spikes to prevent such cases.
The nesting season is beginning now. So we are extra vigilant in these cases," Dayal said. This new system is already in place on Line 1 from Shahdara to Rithala.
By R.K. Bhatnagar and R.K. Palta
Complexities in Bird Management are many due to flight, intelligence, adaptability, by and large, multiple status of involved species and situations necessitating management. Some of these aspects are appreciable with examples of species like Indian National Bird, Pavo cristatus Linnacus, which is endangered, protected, venerated and may be problematic to agriculture in some situations (Mebrotra and Bhatnagar, 1979, and Agarwal and Bhatnagar, 1984). Similar are the cases of Common House Sparrow, Passer domesticus (Linnaeus) and Common Feral Pigcon, Columba livia in which in many urban situations (in particular the later specie) may be problematic (including in agriculture) with various types of nuisance. These could range to such various problems as causing contaminations with droppings in food storages, food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and also in sophisticated instrumentation plants etc. Dropping nuisance of Feral Pigeon may even cause serious problems of corrosions on aircraft bodies and other problems like choking of tubes etc. (Agarwal and Bhatnagar, 1984). Droppings may at times cause or pose health hazards with fungal and bacterial spores growing on rotten droppings. Lethal and many other management approaches (Mehrotra and Bhatnagar, 1979, Bhatnagar, 1984) can not be resorted to in many situations due to various limitations like religious sentiments and in large inhabited buildings etc.
Cited limitations necessitate development of alternate behavioural management measures, that are non-toxic and donot pose any sort of hazards to involved species etc. Amongst these repellents like auditory, optic and tactile (involving touch) have high importance in urbanised areas, particularly in large building complexes (including aircraft hangers) like hospitals, hotels and other sensitive residential complextes.
In view of above, certain experimental studies on use of roost repellent jelly a formulated product comprising 0.2% water based emulsions turned jelly (Pest-Go) of Butyl Acrylate, Methyl Methacrylate and Stryrene was tested in aviary cage (with five wild caught individuals of C.livia) and in a residential premise. Study approach comprised coating of 3 mm thick layer of jelly on three 10 x 100 cm plyboard sheets provided as roosts or perches. Along with these two similar untreated sheets were also provided for use as alternate untreated control roosting sites. Both types of sheets were affixed in cage for behavioural study as choice test. On these number of visits were recorded for four times a day starting at 9.00 Hrs and at gap of 80 minutes and each observation spread for 10 minutes, a ventilator ledge and top surface of carton used as roost were coated with jelly and visits of Feral Pigeons were recorded as aviary cage.
Observations revealed that in aviary under choice conditions, treated roost were visited at the initial stage in two cases by two pigeons but were deserted and subsequently were not visited or occupied by any of the individuals. Subsequent four observations spread over 4 days revealed that some sort of aversion has set in and birds avoid treated areas/sheets.
In the residential premise tests, pigeon visits comprised 2,2 and 1 at initial stage, but subsequently stretching of horizontal rows of metallised reflective polyester ribbon (Bird Scarning Ribbon) led to complete abondoning of the area by pigeons.
Non of observ. On nos. visits
(No. visited/No. roosts) Treated Roost
Others (Top of Card B)
Experimental results show that the jelly can be effective tactile roost repellent for Feral Pigeon from urban premises. These studies also lead suggest extensive trials in areas of heavy concentrations of Feral Pigeons and of other Passerines in areas having high availability of food resources. Among with these preliminary field level studies were also started on heavier birds problematic in aviation safety, the whitebacked vulture; but results are not clear and warrant attention.
Preliminary studies on physical properties reveal that the jelly remains stable at temperatures ranging upto 80 C and retains normal viscosity and jelly like texture at Delhi conditions. Skin irritation and skin exposure tests revealed that the jelly is non irritant to most humans. It is non corrosive and is washable with water, but is slippery if left on floor.
Authors are thankful to Shri Rajender Singhal and Shri M.R. Bajikar for arranging availability of formulated product, 'Pest Go' for our studies. Authors are also thankful to Head of the Entomology. Division, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, for various facilities.
Agarwal, R.A. and Bhatnagar, R.K. (Edrs.) 1984. Management of Problem Birds in Aviation and Agriculture, New Delhi. pp.
Bhatnagar, R.K. 1976-Significane of Bird Management Pesticide Annual - 1976, Bombay
Bhatnagar, R.K. 198-Bird Problem in Aviation, 18th Convention Pesticide Association, New Delhi.
Mehrotra, K.N. and Bhatnagar, R.K. 1979-Status of Economic Ornithology in India; Depredents, Depredations and Management in Agriculture, I.C.A.R., New Delhi, 79 pp.