Birds

Pigeons

Common Name: Pigeon or Rock Dove
Scientific Name: Columbia livia Gmelin
Class/Order/Family: Aves/Columbiformes/Columbidae

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Pigeons were bred from the European Rock Dove and were introduced into North America as a domestic circa 1606. Pigeons are now established in almost every rural area in the United States.

Physical Characteristics: Adult pigeons average around 13” or 33cm long. They have an average weight of around 13oz. They are stocky with a round fanlike tail. They come in a variety of colors and combinations such as white, black, bluish grey with black bands, reddish feet and a most times a greenish-purplish band around the neck. They have two legs containing four toes, one rear projecting and three front projecting. They have no teeth and a soft voice which they use to make a series of guttural rolling coos.

Droppings: Pigeons fecal material is highly acidic will deface tile roofs and even cause them to weaken. Their droppings can also be very odorous and cause slippery conditions when it becomes wet.

Biology

Breeding: Pigeons are monogamous and breed for life, they lay 1-2 white eggs which require 17-19 days for incubation. Their hatchlings are mostly featherless and are better known as squabs. For the first several days (5) of their life squabs are fed predigested food called pigeon milk, which is produced from the parent’s crop. Slowly over the next several days water and grain are introduced into their diet until they only are fed water and grain.

Senses: Pigeons have color vision and while they cannot think they have learned behavior.

Diseases

Concerns: Pigeons pose many medical issues, they have been associated with more than 50 diseases and ectoparasites, not only wit the birds themselves but their nests and droppings. The most commonly associated the lung Disease histoplasmosis.

Diseases associated with pigeons: Histoplasmosis, , encephalitis, Newcastle disease, chlamydiosis and salmonellosis.

Ectoparasites: Mites and ticks which can and often bite humans causing great discomfort. There are additional insects associated with pigeons, the following arthropods also can and will invade homes such as dermestid beetles, clothes moths and stored product pests.

Control methods

When it comes to controlling pigeons the available options are almost as numerous as the pigeons themselves. As each year passes new technology comes out that allows for higher levels of control with less intrusion on the aesthetics of homes and structures.

Baiting: The use of avicides has been effective in controlling pigeons. There is one available to pest control professionals called Avitrol. This product comes in different size corn kernels and is coated with the bait. This bait is meant to be mixed with un-treated corn at a rate of 10-1 (clean to treated) and is not meant to kill the birds.

Avitrol is meant to produce an erratic behavior in the birds thus causing concern and distress among the flock. Once distressed the birds move on to another location that they conceive as safer and more suitable. This is not a permanent method of treatment or control.

Exclusion: This method is most effective because it does permanently takes away the pigeons ability to gain access to protected areas. This can be done using a wide variety of materials from netting, hardware clothe or actual construction.

Deterrents: These items also work well when used properly; they include such items as spikes and daddy long legs. Any device that prevents the birds from using the area in which they desire to roost or nest will cause the birds to move on to more suitable structures.

The newest method of deterrent is a product called shock track.. This is where tracking is placed on top of a structure of anywhere pigeons are not wanted and a small electrical current pulses through the tracking. This current does not harm the birds but causes them to fear the area that has addressed and at times even performing this on a small area of a structure may cause the pigeons to leave the building alone altogether. The track can be hooked up to a solar battery or plugged into an outlet and is one of the greatest breakthroughs in bird control. Not only is it highly effective but very hard to see.

Trapping: This like the baiting is effective but may not permanent, as birds can and will sometimes return. When trapping care has to be taken to ensure there is food and water available to the birds before they are retrieved. Birds must be removed then disposed off since relocating them will sometimes result in their return.