As noted under Bird control & removal services, many species of birds can be a nuisance to people. But the worst culprit, in urban/suburban settings, both locally and nationally, is the feral pigeon (or European rock dove). Pigeons are rather large birds that vary in color from gray to white to multi-colored, often iridescent on the head and neck. They are very prolific breeders (3-4 broods per year). Their primary foods are grain and seeds.
Not native to North America, pigeons were brought over from Europe during the colonial period. Big mistake! Pigeons are commensal with man; they live, feed and nest in close association with human development and structures. Concentrations of pigeons on/in human structures means copious quantities of messy, unsightly, unsanitary, highly corrosive droppings. Pigeon droppings can clog gutters and HVAC units, contaminate animal foods and pose human health concerns. Feces harbor a variety of bacterial, fungal, viral and protozoal diseases. The birds themselves can host mites and various ectoparasites. Not a good situation!
Our approaches to control can include: 1) cultural changes (remove food, water or shelter), 2) frightening/harassing, 3) use of repellents (chemical, sonic or visual), 4) dispersal methods, 5) obstruction/exclusion and 6) lethal measures or population reduction. Pigeons, an introduced pest species, are not protected and can be controlled by lethal means (shooting and trapping/euthanasia). Depending on the situation we may use any of these methods or a combination of several. Pigeons can have any or all of four levels of commitment to a site: feeding, staging (or loafing), roosting (sleeping) and nesting (reproducing). Level of commitment usually dictates the best method of control.
A common strategy for commercial buildings and multi-unit residential buildings(apartment complexes, condos) with large numbers of birds, includes: 1) population reduction or dispersal, 2) clean up/treatment of feces and 3) obstruction/exclusion. The best method of population reduction is live-trapping/euthanasia. Pigeons cannot be relocated effectively. Being “homing pigeons,” they usually quickly return. Dispersal can sometimes be achieved by frightening/harassing, especially after dark. A better method is the use of feeding stations with Avitrol, an EPA restricted-use chemical frightening product. It is an effective, but controversial product that must be used with discretion. Some birds will behave in a bazaar manner and a few will die.
Feces can accumulate in large quantities and usually need to be cleaned up and properly disposed of. Accumulations, especially inside structures, should be handled as hazardous waste. Clean-up areas should be disinfected and/or treated with enzyme products. After clean-up, recessed or sheltered areas where birds have been roosting and nesting need to be obstructed or excluded to prevent future re-infestations. A variety of commercial devices (bird spikes, wires, electric tracks) effectively keep birds off ledges, beams, etc. Wire mesh screens and polyethylene netting are best for excluding recesses and openings in structures.
Control on single-family homes usually requires exclusion with wire mesh or netting and some clean-up. Tactile (sticky) repellents and ledge obstruction devices are useful in some situations. Harassment at night, visual deterrents, capture nets and air gun shooting all have applications. Sonic (audible) devices are inefficient and often annoying to people. Fake owls are a total waste of money.
In big box stores, warehouses and barns/stables, sharpshooting with air guns can be very effective and safe, especially at night.
If you have a pigeon problem, call us at 719-636-1014 for an investigation and prices. We’d be happy to help.