Pigeons are highly adaptable birds to both urban and rural settings. These birds can and carry ectoparasites on them such as fleas, ticks, and mites, which pose health risks to humans. Pigeons have also been associated with many diseases such as histoplasmosis, salmonellosis, and other various viral encephalitic diseases. Their droppings are acidic and can cause extensive damage to buildings and other structures. Pigeon droppings are also known to trigger human slips and falls.
Feral pigeons are the most problematic of the pest bird species largely due to their dependence on people to provide them with food and nesting sites. They are often described as “rats with wings”.
Pigeons are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short, slender bills with a fleshy cere. They typically have a gray body with whitish rump, red feet, and two black bars on their wing feathers and a broad black band on their tail. Most pigeons are approximately (28 cm) 11 inches long and weigh about (369 g) 13 oz.
Pigeons are dependent on humans to provide them with food, roosting, and nesting sites. They are found around agricultural areas as well as warehouses, feed mills, and grain elevators. They are also commonly found in cities around parks, buildings, bridges, and any other structures.
Once a pigeon acquires a mate (they are monogamous), one to three eggs are laid within 8-12 days. Eggs are incubated for 17-19 days and young are ready to leave the nest at 4-6 weeks.
With up to 6 broods per year, large populations can develop in a relatively short period of time.
Pigeons can live up to 15 years, however, factors such as disease, lack of food and water as well as predation from other birds and animals prevent this. Wild pigeons typically live 3-4 years.
Where do pigeons prefer to roost in urban areas?
Pigeons will inhabit any area where they are able to land, that offers shelter, food & water and in which they are able to move about. Such areas include lofts, steeples, attics, ornate architectural features of buildings as well as window ledges, pipe manifolds, girders, and roofs.
What does a pigeon nest look like?
Pigeons will build nests out of sticks, twigs, and grass. However, they may also use materials such as yarn and string if they find them. The nests are loosely constructed and sometimes appear out of nowhere! Pigeons may reuse their nests and can become solid with droppings and debris.
Nests are more like platforms, not like the typical songbird nests which we see in trees around our parks and neighborhoods.
Can large populations of pigeons do damage to the structures where they roost?
Yes. Even small populations of pigeons can cause a great deal of damage, both structural and aesthetic. The acidic nature of their droppings cause building materials to deteriorate, and damages exterior finishes. Marble and other masonry may be permanently stained, and the appearance of droppings on exterior walls, windows and floors is unsightly and requires much time and money to remove on a regular basis. Pigeon droppings on an unsuspecting pedestrian is never good, particularly when that pedestrian is a potential customer entering your place of business.
Do pigeon infestations create potential health hazards?
Yes. Pigeon droppings contain the organisms responsible for diseases such as Ornithosis, Encephalitis, Cryptococcosis, Toxoplasmosis and Salmonella, to name a few.
Buildings which have large pigeon populations constitute health hazards for the occupants of those buildings.
Huge stores of food, intended for human or animal use, can be contaminated by pigeon droppings in silos, storage bins and other grain handling facilities.
Other organisms may exist in old, dry droppings, and in empty nests, and are transmitted to humans through inhalation.
Ectoparasites of pigeons, such as lice, fleas, and mites, may also affect people if they are in close proximity to nesting areas. The northern fowl mite is a very important pest of poultry, and is found on, and transmitted by pigeons.
These points illustrate the need to eliminate pigeon infestations, thoroughly clean areas where they once roosted, and prevent re-infestation.
How can pigeon infestations be prevented?
Exclusion is often the most practical and affordable method of pigeon control. It is highly effective if done properly. Exclusion involves eliminating access to areas pigeons roost & nest.
Other means of prevention include the use non-toxic repellents which, when applied make the area less desirable to pigeons.
Limiting pigeons’ access to food by keeping areas clean and free of easily available food. Sources of food and water should be eliminated, and people should be discouraged from feeding pigeons in public areas.
The safe and proper removal and exclusion of pigeons from a structure can be a difficult and time-consuming endeavor and should be done by professional pest control technicians.
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