Pigeons pose a pest problem in rural and urban areas across the country. They not only carry disease, but their droppings cause an unsightly...
Latin Name: Columba livia
Months of Activity: January - December
Often referred to as "rats with wings", feral pigeons have become just as much of a problem in towns and cities as their furry, four-legged counterparts.
Descendants of rock doves, originally cliff dwelling birds, the feral pigeon has adapted well to living alongside humans and is an integral feature of town centres across the country.
Feral pigeons are a generally grey bird with slightly iridescent feathers on the neck that shine pink and green in the sunlight. Coloration is very variable with some individuals being white, others brownish-red, some grey and many mixtures. The eyes are orange and shine brightly in the sunlight.
The feral pigeon average 3-5 years and will breed throughout the year, the peak being between March and July. A normal clutch consists of two off-white eggs laid on consecutive days. These are incubated for 18-19 days.
Pigeons produce a protein-rich "pigeon milk" that is like a cheesy curd that is the nestlings first requirements. Later, at feeding times, the adults regurgitate food they have gathered and stored in the crop. Young are fed twice a day in the morning and evening.
Fledging takes place after 30-32 days and a further clutch of eggs can be laid when the first young are only three weeks old. It is possible for feral pigeons to produce nine broods a year, but four to five is more normal.
Pigeons have been known to carry diseases such as Chiamdiosis, a virus similar to influenza, and Psittacosis, similar to pneumonia. It is still unknown how big a health risk pigeons pose to humans, with many experts believing the chance of infection to be slight.
An undisputed and particularly visual pigeon problem, however is bird mess. Combined pigeon deposits can weigh up to several tons and costs £15 million a year to clear up. Droppings not only cause buildings to look unsightly, but can cause long term damage.
Pigeons not only pose problems in residential areas, farmers also suffer at the hands, or rather beaks of this feathered pest. In the course of a single year, a feral pigeon can eat its way through 64 pounds of food. With an estimated 18 million feral pigeons in Britain, this can pose a serious problem.
As unpopular as the humble pigeon may be, shooting the pest is often frowned upon by the general public. Alternatives to shooting involve practices to discourage pigeons by implementing physical devices such as spikes or nets, or by regularly flying birds of prey in the vicinity. What is clear, is that pigeon pest control does need to be done by a professional pest control company.
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