Feral Pigeons – The Facts
What does a feral pigeon look like?
Feral pigeons are easily spotted in most city centres around the world, but they are also found in the countryside. They are a light grey colour, with darker banding on their wings. Males often have puffed up feathers around their collar with a light green and purple colouring. Pigeons are scavengers and can often be seen pecking at rubbish or traces of food on the ground. Pigeons can also be identified by the distinctive cooing sounds that they make (and for which they are famous).
How quickly do feral pigeons multiply?
Pigeons breed all year round as continuous food supplies mean it is easy for them to feed their young. Pigeons lay two eggs at a time and tend to raise between four and seven broods a year. This means that in a year their populations can quickly swell from just a few birds to many dozens.
Where do feral pigeons live?
Pigeons will nest in a small crevice or space that is protected from the wind and rain. As they are originally descended from cliff-nesting birds they are happy to find any small hole in which to nest. In properties with weak and damaged walls or roof tiling, pigeons will often be able to force an entry into the property.
What are the signs of a feral pigeon infestation?
- Overflowing drains and pipes are often caused by pigeon droppings.
- Large flocks of birds congregating around specific roofing areas.
- Water damage to the property from holes that pigeons have made in roofing.
- Often sounds of cooing can be heard from within the walls and roof near a nesting site. If you can hear cooing during the night and early morning you may have a problem.
Does a feral pigeon infestation need controlling?
- Pigeons can spread bacteria and diseases. These include salmonella and a disease called Psittacosis, which can be fatal. Handling pigeons and their droppings is best avoided and you certainly don’t want them around the home.
- Pigeons can also infect human beings with bird mites, which are another difficult pest to get rid of. If pigeons die or leave their nest, the mites will travel to areas around the nest, looking for another host.
- Pigeon droppings are acidic and can rot wood and damage brick work, making them a serious liability to property.
- Killing the birds or damaging their eggs and nests is prohibited according to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Some nets and traps that are set up to deter pigeons can kill them, which can lead to prosecution.
- Therefore it is best to get professional help to install deterrents and patch up any holes where pigeons might access to your property.