National Trust Museum -Avebury, Wiltshire

The National Trust Museum in Avebury, Wiltshire is a Grade 2 listed building which had recently had a new thatched roof installed at a cost of £100,000 and unfortunately the local Jackdaw population took a liking to the new straw thatch and started to pluck out strips of straw from it. At first it seemed only a minor problem but as time went on the roof started to become severely damaged. Large areas of the roof had loose straw strewn across it, even though the roof was covered in chicken wire, the Jackdaws were still able to pluck the straw from it.  They even added dummy birds as decoys but the Jackdaws simply ignored it.

At this point the National Trust Museum weren’t sure of what they could do to protect their thatched roof, this is when Birdteq were called to help protect their listed building. Here at Birdteq we have a vast knowledge of birds and can overcome any problem simply based on our knowledge of the specific bird family.

Jackdaws are part of the Corvid family; all of the Corvid family are highly intelligent birds and can overcome most deterrent scaring devices.  We initially spent time observing the Jackdaws behavioral pattern and noticed that the birds would fly in, a few at a time, land on the thatch and pluck out a strip of straw but interestingly they would not fly off with it but simply place it back on the roof. The birds seemed to be copying each other. So, from this we established that the birds weren’t looking for insects in the thatch, nor using it for nesting material. Exactly why they were doing this remains unsolved, it may have been that they simply liked doing it.

We decided that the best course of action would be to create a physical barrier to stop the Jackdaws getting to the roof.  We did this by installing a bird net system, this was agreed upon so long as no fixings were installed into the buildings wall fabric, due to its grade 2 listed status.

The museum also wanted a solution which wouldn’t disturb the thatch but be strong enough to raise the netting above the roof. Our solution was to create a bracket which would rest on the roof, not disturb it and to also be strong. Once all the net brackets and tensioned wire ropes were installed, we fitted the netting one side at a time. The installation was carried out successfully off of a MEWP (mobile elevated work platform).

The bird net installation has been very successful and the thatch roof remains untouched by the Jackdaws.