An irate phone call to the newspaper last week brought up an interesting question: what to do about pigeons pooping on a 12th-floor balcony? An octogenarian in Oshawa was fed up with the mess and insistent that something be done to rid him of his unwelcome visitors. Stymied over how to help, the editor passed the query on to me.
Smiling wryly, I pictured aluminum pie plates dangling in the breeze, likely contravening every condo and apartment regulation in the book. Or what really would work — stretching garden netting from balcony roof to railing, screening pigeons out. Lightweight, cheap and durable, the one-inch mesh is virtually invisible; I know because I have it tacked outside my sunroom windows, stopping birds from flying into the glass.
And then I thought of the most natural, long-term, cost-free solution for our caller’s problem: peregrine falcons. The world’s swiftest birds have made headline news moving into Toronto, then Oshawa in recent years, and their favourite prey happens to be rock pigeons. The two species, in fact, evolved together, both nesting on cliff ledges where four-legged predators can’t get at their eggs or babies.
The docile feral pigeons happily at home in every urban centre around the planet have a wild and romantic history as mountain dwellers of Eurasia, fast, strong fliers traveling long distances to bring food back to their young. Since their main diet is seeds and grains, numbers grew when human hunter-gatherers settled down and started farming. People began domesticating pigeons 5,000 years ago, for food, sport and carrying messages, and brought them along everywhere they went, including the New World in the 1600s. Even Charles Darwin bred pigeons, and based his argument for natural selection on how his own birds changed through the generations.
Peregrine means ‘wanderer,’ and peregrine falcons got to every corner of the globe on their own, though falconers have been breeding them, too, for centuries. Widespread use of DDT wiped wild peregrines out of most of North America in the 1950s, but a ban on the pesticide and great efforts by conservation groups have managed to slowly bring them back. Like pigeons, peregrines have readily adapted to cities, nesting on ledges of high-rise buildings.
So it comes full circle, with two ancient neighbours meeting up again right here in Durham. Maybe peregrines will move in near our frustrated caller and scare his pigeons away, or at least keep numbers in check.
About Pigeon Patrol:
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 Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.
Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products four years in a row.
Contact Info: 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD (www.pigeonpatrol.ca)