Sometimes visitors to our Sacramento pest control company Website are surprised to find pigeons on our list of household pests. The fact is, if your home or commercial building ever becomes a popular roosting spot for these ubiquitous city- and suburban-dwellers, you have a pest problem that can encompass health hazards, safety hazards and property damage, to say nothing of an unsightly mess.
What we Americans call pigeons are rock doves that were domesticated and imported to North America from England and Europe in the 1800s. Over time, many of them escaped to produce large feral populations, and today their range covers much of the continent, including the U.S., southern Canada and Mexico, as well as Hawaii. In Los Angeles County, there is a population of native Band-Tail Pigeons; however, they live mostly in the foothills and do not usually inhabit urban areas. The pigeons that live in our cities and roost on our roofs are a non-native, invasive species.
Pigeons are comfortable with humans and are not easily scared away or deterred. Our houses and public buildings often have architectural features such as eaves, cupolas and drain spouts that make ideal nesting sites for a bird that in its native habitat would nest in the cavities and hollows of steep rock cliffs.
Pigeons have thrived so well in the wild in part because they are prolific breeders, hatching several broods a year and sometimes laying a new clutch of eggs before the previous batch of fledglings has left the nest.
Pigeons are creatures of habit and highly social. Once they home in on easy food sources and comfortable nesting and roosting sites, they will return again and again, along with a few hundred of their closest friends and relatives. Unfortunately, they make unsanitary, unhealthful and destructive neighbors.
Pigeon droppings not only look and smell terrible, they damage buildings, statues, equipment and other outdoor structures, kill landscape plants and attract flies. Pigeon droppings, especially when dry and airborne, can expose humans to several diseases, including aspergillosis, candidiasis, encephalitis, histoplasmosis, Newcastle disease, ornithosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, and cryptococcosis and coccidiodomycosis, which cause meningitis.
Pigeons carry parasites, including mites, fleas, ticks that are dangerous to humans and domestic animals. Pigeons may also encourage other pests, such as rats, which feed on dead pigeons and the food sometimes scattered for pigeons by well intentioned bird-lovers. Wheeling in large flocks, pigeons pose a hazard to planes in airport settings, and often outcompete our native birds for food and habitat.
Pigeons are not protected under federal law, but many local governments do have laws regulating pigeon deterrence or removal. Domesticated homing or hobby pigeons should be identifiable by a band on one leg, and in many areas it is a misdemeanor offense to harm or kill them.
Once a flock of pigeons has made itself at home on your house or commercial building, it can be stubbornly resistant to removal, often requiring the services of pest control or animal control professionals. As is true of many household pests, a first step to controlling feral pigeons is to remove their food source. Keep areas around trash bins and outdoor dining areas clean; encourage children to pick up spilled treats—and teach them NOT to feed the pigeons. Eliminating water sources such as overwatered lawns, bird baths, or kiddy pools, and screening drains and gutters can also make your property less attractive to pigeons.
Other methods of eliminating pigeons are more difficult. Using plastic owls or other props to scare pigeons away usually is NOT effective for more than a day or two, simply because a stationery object quickly becomes familiar to pigeons who return day after day to the same roost. Have you ever spotted a pigeon or seagull perched happily on the head of a plastic owl?
Excluding pigeons by covering or screening roof openings, alcoves, chimneys and pipes can work, but every opening must be covered; otherwise the stubborn pigeons will simply move to another, more accessible spot. Other methods to discourage nesting and roosting are repeated and ongoing nest removal, installation of spikes or spring-loaded wire devices, application of sticky repellant material along roosting surfaces and nesting areas, netting, live trapping, and baits and poisons. As with exclusion methods, every accessible part of your property must be treated, or pigeons simply will migrate to untreated areas. With any method of pigeon control, local ordinances, public perception and environmental health and safety must be prime considerations.
To read about out pigeon abatement and other pest control services, visit our home page at https://www.earthguardpest.com.