Let’s imagine there were no pigeons: If we could design a drone that would disperse diseases harmful to humans while splattering a corrosive substance onto cars, buildings and monuments… would we?
Well, if we could throw breadcrumbs at it and watch it scuttle toward us, we might.
Now pigeons can live very well on grass seed and insects just as their distant ancestors did in the wild. They can also range up to five kilometres between roosting, nesting and feeding sites.
The birds multiplying in our streets should not be considered as wildlife. It’s beyond me why Birdlife Malta should bother to comment on the culling of these urban pests by local councils.
The first feral pigeons to appear in our public spaces were probably escapees from racing pigeon clubs.
The domestic strain originally came from the wild rock pigeon, fond of nesting in high cliff areas. That’s why their descendents still nest high up with a strong liking for uncovered ventilator openings in our homes.
According to a study by the University of Basel, Switzerland, pigeons are potential carriers of no less than 60 diseases harmful to humans. Nine are bacterial, five are viral and the rest are mostly fungal agents.
So why isn’t the Health Department warning us against these dangers?
Actually, unless you are handling pigeons, they generally pose a much lower disease transmission risk than rats or flies.
So it’s not highly likely that you or your child would pick up viral encephalitis or cryptoccocal meningitis from a bird cooing away in your ventilatur.
If you do have direct contact with pigeons then symptoms similar to pneumonia can arise. However, the same is true for anyone keeping parrots, budgies, cockatiels, hens, sparrows or seagulls. (Not to worry – ‘Parrot fever’ is not the same as bird flu.) But normally mild or symptom-free respiratory diseases carried from pigeons to humans can be fatal in vulnerable individuals.
When pigeon poo dries it turns to a powdery dust, kicked up into the air by passing feet. The smaller the child, the higher the exposure.
Demolition of abandoned buildings where pigeons have been roosting can pose a threat to neighbours too, as particles of pigeon debris contaminate the air they breathe.
A pigeon is capable of producing 48 chicks a year. The advice from pest management companies is to tackle the problem while pigeon numbers are still low (one or two).
Peregrine falcons seemed to work for Trafalgar Square. But if natural predators are brought in for the job here they might end up as collectors’ items.
Poison is out, not just because it’s a cruel death for the bird but also a danger to human health.
Traps are unwieldy and egg-destroying ventures may still attract the ire of some animal welfare extremists.
Putting contraceptive chemicals in feed has already been tried by local councils with limited success. Unless people are prevented from feeding the pigeons the birds will spend more time breeding than foraging.
Even culling by shooting will only have a very short-term effect unless a total clampdown on feeding is brought in.
Let’s have a coordinated campaign to protect the public from health risks of the pigeon invasion; not to mention the disfigurement of our beautiful stone buildings.
Everyone must be urged to take action and discourage feeding of the urban pests wherever possible.
Had we enforced by-laws where they exist the problem would not be with us today. Applied piecemeal, the pigeons just move on.
Now a legal notice is needed to ban the feeding of pigeons in public areas, with enforcement and steeper fines for putting public health at risk.
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)