New York City Subway Uses Bird Sounds to Ward Off Pigeons


Written by Stephen Messenger

With a daily ridership in excess of 5 million commuters, the New York City Subway system ranks among the world’s most trafficked — though much to the chagrin of transit workers, there’s another species making use of the facilities in a whole different way. For decades, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.) has tried their hands at new ways of discouraging the scores of trespassing pigeons from making roost in subway stations throughout Manhattan, but where lethal methods have failed, a more humane approach seems to be doing the trick.

According to a report from the New York Times, the MTA has found a cleverly effective way of deterring pigeons from entering its stations — simply by playing recorded sounds of predators and birds in distress.

For a mere $375, transit authorities have managed to keep their Roosevelt Island subway station virtually free of pigeons (and their accompanying feathers and droppings) by using Bird-B-Gone, an auditory deterrent which leads the birds to believe that the subterranean shelter might not be the best place to hang out:

The authority decided to try the system on Roosevelt Island because its previous efforts did little to stem the number of complaints about pigeons and their droppings.

The agency chose the sound system, which Bird-B-Gone calls the “bird chase super sonic system,” over bird spikes or electric shock systems because it best fit the station’s architecture and it works in large open spaces.

Mr. Ortiz [an MTA spokesperson] added that since the installation of the sound system, “there is a noticeable decrease in birds and droppings.”

Given pigeons’ long and colorful history of sharing our urban spaces, often with less than appreciative attitudes towards their presence on the part of their human cohabitants, it’s refreshing to see MTA officials taking such a non-lethal approach to ‘pest management.’

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


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Photo from adam hilliker via flickr

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Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago

If there were less humans littering there would be less pigeons. It might be their way of saying "POOP on you too"

Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

Brain over brawn. Love it!

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim3 years ago

Nice! Very good safe alternative :)

Jennifer S.
Jennifer S.3 years ago

How encouraging - a public agency using a humane and common sense based solution to a problem involving animals!

Susan Griffiths
Susan Griffiths3 years ago

I applaud the MTA. Finally a cheap and effective solution to discourage birds AND one that does not hurt or kill the birds. Wonder if the same idea can work in respect to other so called nuisance animals?

Stephanie Thomas
Stephanie Thomas3 years ago

My city (Calgary, Alberta) has used the spike strips and bird noises for the last few years and has made such a difference

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Good to hear that they are adopting this humane alternative.

Isabel A.
Isabel Araujo3 years ago

Good alternative! Thank you.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P.3 years ago

haha good

Tracey D.
Tracey D.3 years ago

Glad they found this humane alternative. I'm also wondering if there's a different device that attracts pigeons.