Most of the pigeons you see around a city, building, bridge, billboard or other structure, are pigeons that were born and raised close by. A few may be “vagrants” and constantly on the move, but most of them are going to be your neighborhood pigeons that will be nesting and breeding near to where you see them if food and water is close by.
Feral pigeons (Columbia livia) are the number one urban pest bird, causing damage where ever they nest or roost. Pigeons are descendants of domesticated European homing pigeons or Rock Doves, so they have a varied diet and feel at ease making their homes in man-made structures. Generally blue-grey in color, with iridescent feathers on the head and neck, pigeons often have markings in black, white or brown on the wings and neck. A short neck and small head characterize the standard pigeon; their short legs, hind toes and level front allow for both easy perching on pipes and ledges or walking on flat surfaces. Pigeons generally nest in small, flat areas away from the ground such as building ledges, air conditioning units or window sills.
Pigeons will inhabit any area that will offer them shelter from the climate, for example: architectural features of buildings, lofts, church steeples, attics, and any place with openings that allow for roosting, loafing, and nesting. Pigeon nests consist of twigs, sticks, and grass clumped together to form a platform. Pigeons are monogamous birds. “Eight to twelve days after mating, the female will lay 1 or 2 eggs which hatch after approximately 18 days. The male, during this time, is providing nesting material and guards the female and the nest.” When pigeons are born, they feed on pigeon milk which is “a liquid/solid substance secreted in the crop of both adults that is regurgitated” into the mouths of the young pigeons. Most young leave the nest at approximately 4 to 6 weeks of age. During this time another batch of eggs may have already been laid. Breeding most commonly occurs during the spring and fall, but reproduction can occur all year long. A flock of pigeons will normally have an equal amount of males and females. A pigeon’s normal lifespan in nature is about 3 to 4 years.
A pigeon can go, if necessary, a long time without food or even water. Most birds need a constant water source and that they will visit every day. Pigeons are skilled in finding water and food sources, and rarely have trouble finding a source in the city. Individual pigeons can have a home range of 150 miles, although most will stay close to home, which is generally considerably less than 25 miles or so. If their food and water sources change drastically, however, they will migrate, to another spot, near or far, with better provisions.
Damage caused by Pigeon Problems
Pigeon control is important due to the damage and disease problems these birds often create, check out Health Risk page. The uric acid in pigeon feces is highly corrosive and can cause extensive damage to metals and other substrates it sits on for long periods. Debris from flocks of problem pigeons often build up, backing up gutters and drains which can cause flooding and roof damage. Nesting materials and other debris has caused failures in machinery, especially rooftop air conditioning units which are a prime nesting spot for pigeons. Other frequent pigeon problems include slip and fall liability from feces or debris, plus an unclean, dirty company image is presented when pigeons are roosting all over a building or store front sign. The bacteria, fungal agents and ectoparasites found in pigeon droppings are responsible for a host of serious diseases, including histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, toxoplasmosis and more. Pigeons also carry ectoparasites for example: fleas, lice, mites, ticks, and other biting pests. Many companies have significant clean up costs due to the pigeon problems that they don’t resolve. The pigeons that are located around airports threaten human safety due to a possible bird-aircraft collision. The U.S. Air Force considers pigeons as a medium priority hazard to jet aircrafts.
FLYING RATS ?
In today’s world, the common structure-dwelling pigeons have become the avian equivalents of city rodents. “Flying Rats,” as they have been described. Unfortunately, they have been forced into this role by man, as much as by their own natural instincts and habits. First and foremost to the problem of overpopulation, are the numbers of nooks and crannies that modern man builds into the exterior of all of his structures, forming the basic nesting home sites for pigeons and other birds. This means that almost every house, commercial building, bridge, billboard, gas canopy, or other large structure harbors a number of these potential nest or roosting sites. Bad for us, good for the pigeon.
Pigeons also become habituated to humans, by being extensively fed by humans, as in outdoor eating restaurants, parks and schools which only aggravates the problem. Pigeons, domesticated for thousands of years, are easily tamed and handled by humans. It is important to note that NO wild animals, including wild pigeons, should be fed, at any time, for any reason, by anyone.
Pigeon Control Products
The best pigeon control product is 2″ or 3/4” bird netting. Bird net is extremely durable and creates a true bird barrier against problem pigeons “homing” to their natural instinct to stay near their birth site. Pigeon netting completely controls pigeon problems, forcing the birds to look elsewhere for a nesting site.
In addition to bird net, other very effective bird control and pigeon control products are electrical shock track , bird spike, chemical bird control aversion hazing systems, OvoControl -birth control for pigeons, bird control post and wire systems and many other products. These pigeon control or bird control products work best where pigeons are nesting or roosting and the pigeons are “homing” (committed to remaining at the site). For pigeon problem areas where the birds are not nesting live catch pigeon traps can be an effective pigeon control method.
TOXICANTS AND POISONS
In certain areas, the use of a toxicant for pigeons is allowed for the control of pigeons. There are several types, the two most often used is a product with the brand name of “Avitrol”.
Both are used exactly the same way, by pre-baiting with ordinary feed corn or seed for 5 – 7 days and then when the pigeons or birds are accepting the bait readily, the corn is laced with the toxicant and doled out to the pigeons when the birds eat the treated bait the birds have a reaction, some act loopy and many die or get very sick. Then the process can be started again with pre-baiting for 5 – 7 days etc.. This process is very labor intensive if it is done correctly and according to label directions a service person must stay around and pick up dead and dying birds then remove any remaining treated bait so protected birds don’t get into the bait.
Unfortunately most of the time we see a Pest Control Technician putting a pie tin or something on a roof top, put in the bait and leaving the bait there all month long which will only make the birds that survive shy away from the corn. In most cases baiting when done right the affected pigeons die. No matter what kind of story some technician will give you, these bait products do not make the pigeons forget where they live, act like BIRDIE LSD, or make the pigeons act crazy and fly away, it kills many of them.
We do not use poison baits for any type of bird.
We feel Live Trapping is a much more effective solution.
These products all act as a poison to birds since they are flock reduction products and you carry the added liability of having a poisoned bird dropping into someone’s yard where the dog or cat can eat the baited bird and possibly get sick or worse yet die – Then who do you think your neighbors will be looking for to sue $$$
SOME UNUSUAL PIGEON FACTS
Remember to respect the pigeon. This chubby little bird has the uncanny ability to find it’s way home, no matter what, and no matter from where. To date, science can only theorize as to exactly how the pigeons do this.
Trying to discover or prevent pigeons from returning home, researchers have tried to confuse them in every way possible. By transporting them to a remote location: In the dark, in randomly rotating cages, with strong or weak magnetic fields, with flashing lights, and even anesthetized, or any combinations of these, (and others too) nothing seemed to affect their navigation skills, even in unfamiliar territories.
Pigeons are suspected of using magnetic structures already known to be in their brains, but there was still no change in their ability, even when tiny, removable magnets were attached to their heads, supposedly to confuse these structures.
Most people can’t tell the difference between a racing pigeon and a regular feral pigeon. Hobbyists race homing pigeons all over the world and U.S. hobbyists all across North America. They do lose birds occasionally, and those years when there is a poor return rate of the birds are said to correlate with strong magnetic storms. Alternatively, the birds may have found a more appealing park or gutter en route. Some pigeons you may see on the street, therefore, could be the pigeons that didn’t make it back home. Rescued pigeons, or birds of any kind, should not be handled. Actual domestic pigeons that have escaped from individual owners, are usually banded and can be identified by the National Pigeon Association. This website contains information and even a link on how to report lost pigeons. The pigeon’s owner will certainly appreciate any information you can supply, as a lost pigeons is an investment of time and money for the pigeon owner.
Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Bird Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.
Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products ten years in a row.
Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca
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