The Pigeon is one of the most loved and equally despised bird species. Pigeons are nuisances around our homes and businesses due their nesting and defecation. Aside from the unsightly results to buildings from their presence, they can also transmit numerous diseases.
Pigeons in our Environment
Most of the pigeons you see around a city, or any building, bridge or 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 your neighbors. Pigeons might properly be called “rock doves,” indeed, that’s the natural place for them to be, in small rocky outcroppings. It’s just that man’s many artificial structures offer so many excellent nesting areas.
Pigeons are also used to people, who tend to feed them, contributing to their increased populations. Pigeons can subsist on just about any kind of diet, and will crowd out songbirds that feed near them. Pigeons are strictly diurnal, daytime animals, and they seek out a safe place to roost every night, and will only fly at night when disturbed.
In a local population of pigeons, there will be a few dominant birds, usually the breeding males, followed by the local population of fertile females, juveniles and mated pairs. The dominant birds are alphas, all the rest are omegas, and each breeding male can control many omegas, depending on the other resident populations. The dominant males come and go, sometimes staying in the area. The juveniles, if they survive a winter or two, become breeding males, or females, in their own territory, which can be yards or miles away from where they were born.
Pigeons of any kind are creatures of habit. They are not disturbed by replicas of owls or hawks, (for very long) and will even become used to moving doors or machinery after a few days. A railroad line usually has a large building for the inside repair or inspection of railroad cars, and the pigeons will wait, very patiently, for the doors to open, when a car is brought in or removed. They swoop in or out quickly as the doors open. They have this routine down to a “T” and know they can get in by just waiting long enough.
Probably the most effective control is exclusion. You EXCLUDE them from the area. This, sometimes, is not an easy proposition. Bridges and other superstructures offer many areas that pigeons enjoy roosting on, and depending on how these structures are built, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to exclude the pigeons.
Physical barriers consist of bird netting or “porcupine” strips, constructed of needle-sharp barbs which are designed to keep the birds away from a roosting area. They help. However, the birds will gather sticks, leaves and other debris to cover the barbs, and if they are not maintained, the pigeons will be back. Netting also helps, but both methods need to be installed, so planning where and how these devices are to be placed is very important.