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Bird Biology
         Pigeon
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Identification:
  • (Columbia livia) Pigeons "typically have a gray body with a whitish rump, two black bars on the secondary wing feathers, a broad black band on the tail, and red feet." Pigeons can vary in body color, from gray to white, tan, and black. The average length of a pigeon is about 11 inches, and their average weight is approximately 13 ounces.
  • Habitat:
  • Pigeons have become an urban bird, and highly depended on humans for food, roosting and nesting areas. Pigeons are most commonly found around feeding areas, parks, schools, city buildings, bridges, homes, and many other structures.

  • General Biology:
  • The Pigeon was originally "introduced into the United States as a domesticated bird, but many escaped and formed feral populations. These birds have become the most common nuisance urban bird. Pigeons will inhabit any area that will offer them shelter from the climate, for example: ornate architectural features of buildings, lofts, church steeples, attics, and any place with openings that allow for roosting, loafing, and nesting. Pigeon nests consist of twigs, sticks, and grass clumped together to form a platform. Pigeons are monogamous birds. "Eight to twelve days after mating, the female will lay 1 or 2 eggs which hatch after approximately 18 days. The male, during this time, is providing nesting material and guards the female and the nest." When pigeons are born, they feed on pigeon milk which is "a liquid/solid substance secreted in the crop of both adults that is regurgitated" into the mouths of the young pigeons. Most young leave the nest at approximately 4 to 6 weeks of age. During this time another batch of eggs have already been laid. Breeding most commonly occurs during the spring and fall, but reproduction can occur during any season. A flock of pigeons will normally have an equal amount of males and females. A pigeon's normal lifespan in nature is about 3 to 4 years.
  • Damage:
  • "Pigeon droppings deface and accelerate the deterioration of buildings and increase the cost of maintenance." Vegetation will decay with the presence of pigeon droppings, which will create an odor problem. Pigeon feces that are dropped on "park benches, statues, cars, and unwary pedestrians is aesthetically displeasing." Pigeons consume and contaminate large quantities of food that is meant for human consumption around grain handling facilities. Many diseases can be contracted through contact with pigeon droppings by humans and livestock. They are known to be able to carry or transmit: "pigeon ornithosis, encephalitis, Newcastle disease, cryptococcosis, toxoplasmosis, salmonella, and several other diseases." Also, with the right conditions, pigeon droppings can harbor "airborne spores of the causal agent of histoplasmosis, and a systemic fungus disease that can infect humans." Pigeons also carry ectoparasites for example: fleas, lice, mites, ticks, and other biteing pests. The pigeons that are located around airports threaten human safety due to a possible bird-aircraft collision. The U.S. Air Force considers pigeons as a "medium priority hazard" to jet aircrafts.
  • Legal Status:
  • Feral pigeons are not protected by federal law; most states do not offer them sanctuary. Local officials must be contacted before control measures are taken because some localities are designated as bird sanctuaries.
  • Damage Prevention:
  • The elimination of all roosting and nesting areas of a structure is important for Urban Pest Bird Management. Feeding and watering of pigeons must be discouraged. Buildings and other structures must be constructed so that they are bird proof.
  • Acknowlegement:
  • Courtesy of The Wildlife Damage Handbook
  • Methods of Treatment:
  • Bird Netting
  • Stainless Steel Spikes
  • ShockStrip
  • TensionWire System
  • Trapping

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