There are just a handful of birds that non-birders can name upon sight, and pigeons are one of them. Ubiquitous to all city and suburban dwellers, pigeons can be found everywhere around the world except the Sahara Desert, Antarctica, and the highest parts of the Arctic region. There are estimated to be between 260 and 400 million pigeons worldwide.
Their history begins early in human development, with archeological evidence showing that pigeons, also called rock doves, were a food source for Neanderthals. The Egyptians domesticated them much like we do chickens as a food source by around 4,500 BC.
Eventually, people noticed their keen sense of navigation, observing their homing instincts. Sailors began to use pigeons to steer them toward land and to deliver messages over long distances. Even in our modern era, pigeons were used during WWI and WWII to send messages back and forth from the front lines.
Today, no longer on the menu, pigeon populations are flourishing — and they’re looked at as more of a pest. The pigeons that live among us are known as feral pigeons, descendants of historically domesticated pigeons. So, we have no one to blame but ourselves for the way pigeons flock to our residential and commercial neighborhoods. They benefit greatly from human habitats for the following reasons:
- They are not picky eaters and will gladly eat what we discard.
- Water is plentiful.
- We’ve built ledges, rooftops, bridges, chimneys, warehouses, and barns where flocks can gather and roost.
- Predators are rare.
Pigeons are not looked upon favorably by most people, although some love to sit in the park and feed them.
It is important to note that pigeons are monogamous, and pairs stay together for their lifetimes. As long as the food is plentiful, they will breed two to four times per year, laying two white, nondescript eggs in a haphazardly built nest. It only takes four to six weeks for their young to be semi-independent, and it is at this point that the pair will start another brood. Once they establish themselves somewhere, their numbers can grow substantially.
Additionally, while many birds seek warmer climates in winter, pigeons are an exception. They are naturally attracted to warmth and can quickly find places where heat is escaping from buildings. Needing only a gap of one inch to squeeze inside, they will enter attics and chimneys to set up their winter residence. In urban areas, they take advantage of whatever warmth they can get from lights and vents to huddle together.
A healthy diet for a pigeon consists of insects, worms, seeds, and grains. This diet would produce healthy pigeon poop that looks like hard white-brown colored small marbles that might contain a few small feathers. However, pigeons have grown to eat whatever trash they find in the park, on a sidewalk, or in public trash cans on city streets. As a result, much of the pigeon poop we see is white and runny.
It might be hard to imagine any kind of bird poop causing that large of a problem. However, one pigeon creates around 25 pounds of poop per year. If you have only a pair of pigeons roosting on your roof, it may seem inconsequential. But two pigeons won’t stay two pigeons for long. Since pigeons like to congregate in flocks, it will only take 80 pigeons to create one ton of droppings in a relatively short period of time.
Pigeon flocks grow at approximately 30–35% per year. With every egg that hatches, there’s a new pigeon to join the flock.
Disease and Damage
Because pigeons roost in flocks, their poop is not only unsightly but can accumulate quickly on cars, buildings, sidewalks, and lawns, where it is not only nasty but also damaging and unhealthy.
Pigeon poop contains acids that are erosive to both stone and metal, staining and corroding buildings, statues, cars, and more. In cities where large flocks of pigeons congregate, it would not take long for tons of pigeon poop to accumulate and cause floors or roofs to collapse.
Diseases that can be transmitted by pigeon droppings include cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis, and psittacosis. Pigeon droppings cultivate the growth of fungus that contains these diseases. When cleaning dry droppings, the dust created houses the fungus and can be inhaled. Those who have a compromised immune system are at greater risk. These diseases are based in the lungs and can cause pneumonia, flu-like symptoms, and damage to one’s nervous system.
Damage to Houses and Commercial Buildings
Whether living in a residential suburb or urban neighborhood, pigeons are a general nuisance. From excessive noise and getting underfoot to their excrement on driveways, sidewalks, park benches, and buildings, they are unwelcome and unwanted.
Pigeon poop consists mainly of uric acid, a decay agent. Over time, pigeon poop will decay and deface residential homes and large city buildings alike. Aside from this damage being aesthetically ugly, it does real chemical damage to painted surfaces, stone, metal architectural elements, and bridges. In addition to weakening structures, there are many historical and cultural heritage objects, such as monuments and statues, that need to be preserved.
Pigeons On Your House
In residential homes, accumulated pigeon droppings can plug up gutters resulting in water damage. Their nests can block exhaust vents or fireplace chimneys, creating a fire hazard. If pigeons get into your attic, their poop will ruin the items you store there, and they will bring with them parasites such as mites, ticks, and fleas.
Most Common Areas in House for Pigeons:
Pigeon Control Products
Whether in a residential neighborhood or commercial area, managing pigeon poop takes continual upkeep that costs money. Houses and buildings need to be power washed and painted more often. Gutters need to be cleaned. Roofing may need to be replaced more frequently. In cities, pigeon complaints in residential areas can result in fines.
Pigeon control products have become a necessary part of your home and building maintenance. Here’s how they work.
Running parallel wires across your structure, whether a house, large building, or shed, will keep pigeons from landing and nesting on the roof. This can be accomplished as a DIY project, but it can be tricky and might best be installed by a professional.
Bird gels are sticky substances that can be spread across structures. The effort it takes for pigeons to get free deters them from landing again. While the gel doesn’t trap pigeons, this method could trap smaller birds unable to set themselves free.
Decoys such as plastic owls, reflective disks, or kites with bird images are affordable, simple to employ, and humane methods of discouraging pigeons from landing. The downside is that they work for a short period of time before smart pigeons realize what they are and start ignoring them.
Motion-activated lasers flash a piercing light that startles landing pigeons. This is an effective method at first, but like decoys, pigeons get used to them.
Bird netting hung vertically along the siding of a building will prevent any bird from perching on the surface of a structure. The netting works best on pitched roofs and is relatively invisible. On the downside, it is time-consuming to install and maintain.
Residential Pigeon Problems
Deterrent and exclusionary methods can reduce the possibility of pigeons getting inside attics. Making sure you have screens on windows and caps on vents also help. However, pigeons are smart, so even these methods don’t guarantee you won’t find pigeons roosting in your attic. Once inside, it’s best to call in professionals to eradicate them, as injury and disease transmission are not worth the risk. Critter Control uses humane and effective methods and will also repair and clean damage created by pigeons.
Roof & Balcony
Flat surfaces such as your home’s roof or balcony are a perfect landing place for a flock of pigeons. Unlike a roof, where deterrents can be effective, balconies with outdoor furniture and where residents like to spend time cannot be remedied by deterrents without also being a human deterrent. It is at this point that professionals are your best choice for getting rid of pigeons.
Commercial Pigeon Problems
Store signs, especially those with lights, are a favorite roosting spot for pigeons because they give off heat that pigeons love. Not only can these signs become defaced by the pigeons, but their feces make the signs unsightly, and the sidewalk below becomes a slipping hazard for customers walking by.
It’s difficult to control bird activity in warehouses because it is an environment in which doors are continually opened in the regular activity of doing business. Pigeons roosting on beams and high shelving cause a hazard. Their poop is slippery, and workers are at risk of slipping. In addition, they can become a distraction or create a scare when using machinery and tools.
Whether you have solar panels on your personal property or a commercial enterprise, chances are pigeons will discover them. Installed on a roof, solar panels have a small gap between the roof and the panel. This empty gap makes a perfect place for pigeons to build their nests out of the sight of predators. Unfortunately, the abundance of droppings on the panels can cause reduced efficiency and costly damage.
How Does Critter Control Get Rid of Pigeons?
Controlling pigeons is quite different than any other type of nuisance animal. They cannot be trapped and released elsewhere as they’ll fly right back. And in many geographies, relocating pigeons is prohibited because of the risk of spreading disease.
The risk of disease is also one of the best reasons to pass on getting rid of pigeons yourself and call in Critter Control. Critter Control will assess your specific situation and develop a custom solution based on where pigeons are roosting and the severity of the problem. Often we employ multiple solutions from the list below to make the area inhospitable to pigeons so they go away on their own:
- Install barriers
- Clip and clear roosting branches
- Fixing or adding vent screens and chimney caps
- Installing spikes
- Setting up wires
- Fencing gardens
- Sealing gaps in roofing, sheds, and warehouses
Busy homeowners and business owners rely on Critter Control’s certified wildlife specialists to effectively and humanely get rid of pigeons and keep them out. Critter Control restores the damage created by nuisance animals as well. Best of all, we guarantee our work.
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