The feral pigeon is the number one urban bird pest. They exist in large numbers in every city across the country. Not a native bird, feral pigeons are descendants of domestic homing pigeons brought over from Europe and released here in the 1600's. Several traits have allowed them to dominate the urban landscape. Pigeons are not afraid of people; they roost and nest readily in man made structures and they have a diverse diet. The standard pigeon has a short neck with a small head. Their short legs with the level front and hind toes allow them to perch on branches as well as walk on flat surfaces.
The Rock Dove, Rock Pigeon, Feral Pigeon or Domestic Pigeon is generally blue-gray with a white rump; has iridescent feathers on head and neck; two broad black bars across each wing and a broad dark band across the end of the tail. They also can display white, brown or gray plumage.
Protected ledges and roof tops, On Shooping Center, Hotels, University Campus, Manufacturing Facilitys, Power Utilitys, Health Centers...
Nest building is very simple and often consists of a few stiff twigs. The male will pick the site. They prefer small flat areas away from the ground. Look for nests along building ledges, bridge supports, air conditioning units, window sills and the like. In crowded flocks, pigeons will even forgo nest building and lay eggs directly on a protected ledge.
Pigeons are monogamous and a mating pair will typically have three or four broods a year. The female will usually lay two eggs at a time. The eggs are a solid bright
white color. The eggs take roughly eighteen days to hatch and thirty-five more days before the fledglings leave the nest.
Pigeons are not migratory. The natural instinct is to stay near their birth site. This trait gives the pigeon a very determined personality when it comes to roosting at a particular site, much to the dismay of the inexperienced pest control technician. The daily cycle of a pigeon is to roost at night, feed in the morning and loaf in the afternoon. The seasonal cycle is as follows; courtship in the early winter, nest building in late winter and breeding in the spring. However, In warm climates, breeding will occur year round. Pigeons molt once a year in late summer.
DAMAGE AND RISKS:
Feral pigeons are responsible for untold millions of dollars of damage each year in urban areas. The uric acid in their feces is highly corrosive. Roosting flocks can cut a roof life in half. Extensive damage to air conditioning units and other roof top machinery is commonplace. There are also other economic costs associated with pigeon infestations such as slip and fall liability and projection of unclean, dirty company image. Besides physical damage, the bacteria, fungal agents and ectoparasites found in pigeon droppings represent a serious health risk. Pigeon droppings deface and accelerate the deterioration of buildings and increase the cost of maintenance. Large amounts of droppings may kill vegetation and produce an objectionable odor. A single pigeon can produce up to 25 pounds of guano, annually. Pigeon manure deposited on park benches, statues, cars, and unwary pedestrians is an aesthetic problem. Around grain handling facilities, pigeons consume and can contaminate large quantities of food destined for human or livestock consumption. Pigeons can carry and spread diseases to people and livestock through their droppings. Additionally, under the right conditions, pigeon manure may harbor airborne spores of the causal agent of histoplasmosis, a systemic fungus disease that can infect humans.
Pigeons are found to some extent in nearly all urban areas around the world. It is estimated that there are 400 million pigeons worldwide and that the population is growing rapidly together with increased urbanization. The
population of pigeons in New York City alone is estimated to exceed 1 million birds.
Sexes look nearly identical, although males are larger and have more iridescence on their neck.
Juveniles are very similar in appearance to adults, but duller and with less iridescence.
Pigeons are highly dependent on humans to provide them with food and sites for roosting, loafing, and nesting. They are commonly found around farm yards, grain elevators, feed mills, parks, city buildings, bridges, and other structures, although they can live anywhere where they have adequate access to food, water and shelter
Pigeons feed in flocks and will consume seeds, fruits and rarely invertebrates, although can subsist just fine on street scraps.
Pigeons require about 1 ounce (30 ml) of water daily. They rely mostly on free-standing water but they can also use snow to obtain water.
The average pigeon requires 30 grams of dry matter per day, roughly 10% of their body weight.
Pigeons are monogamous and typically mate for life.
Female pigeons can reach sexual maturity as early as 7 months of age.
Pigeons build a flimsy platform nest of straw and sticks, put on ledge, under cover, often located on the window ledges of buildings.
Eight to 12 days after mating, the females lay 1 to 3 (usually 2) white eggs which hatch after 18 days.
Condition at Hatching: Helpless, with sparse yellow or white down.
Chicks fledge (leave the nest) in 25-32 days (45 days in midwinter).
The male provides nesting material and guards the female and the nest.
The young are fed pigeon milk, a liquid/solid substance secreted in the crop of the adult (both male and female) which is regurgitated.
More eggs are laid before the first clutch leaves the nest.
Breeding may occur at all seasons, but peak reproduction occurs in the spring and fall. A population of pigeons usually consists of equal numbers of males and females. When populations suddenly decrease, pigeon production increases and will soon replenish the flock.
In captivity, pigeons commonly live up to 15 years and sometimes longer. In urban populations, however, pigeons seldom live more than 3 or 4 years. Natural mortality factors, such as predation by mammals and other birds, diseases, and stress due to lack of food and water, reduce pigeon populations by approximately 30% annually.
There are numerous products and techniques available to combat feral pigeon problems. Handling a pigeon infestation most often requires a combination of products and techniques. Coil, spring wire or bird point all have distinct merits for ledge applications. For exclusion, two inch netting is sufficient, be sure to use only woven and knotted netting for large applications. Any exclusion work should be coupled with some form of flock dispersal such as Avitrol, trapping or shooting. Flock reduction alone is not a long term solution as long as food and attractive shelter remain at the site.