Tag Archives: feral pigeon

Where do Feral Pigeons spend their days?

London’s biggest airborne pest, the feral pigeon, has recently become something of a film star. The evil Professor Moriaty, adversary to London’s most famous detective in the movie, “Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows”, has a habit of feeding the winged vermin in the city’s parks.

But when they’re not to be seen alongside the likes of Jared Harris, Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr. and Stephen Fry where do feral pigeons spend their days?

‘Rats with wings’ were not always pests

Today’s feral pigeon, or town pigeon, is descended from birds who were once bred in captivity, often for meat. This happened for thousands of years. Some of the world’s earliest writings, such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, mention the domestication of the Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon.

Over the centuries, millions of birds have escaped from captivity and formed huge colonies in our towns and cities. Trafalgar Square alone was home to around 35,000 birds before the Mayor of London took action to reduce their numbers.

A day in the life of a feral pigeon

As their name suggests, Rock Doves live on cliffs. Today’s tall buildings with their miles of ledges provide an attractive alternative to their feral pigeon descendants.

It’s here that birds begin the day, on some precarious perch or rooftop that’s not been coated in Pigeon Spikes or Netting. Some will be nesting, as pigeons can lay eggs at any time of year.

They like to nest in groups, if they can, with derelict buildings being favoured spots for housing a pigeon nursery. Both parents take turns at incubating the eggs, while their partners go in search of food.

Much of the pigeons’ food comes directly from the human inhabitants of the town or city. Some feed the birds deliberately, although this is increasingly discouraged. But many of us feed feral Pigeons by accident, by dropping pieces of food onto roads and pavements. They also eat berries, seeds and insects.

Pigeons can live for up to fifteen years in captivity. However, it’s unlikely they survive this long in the wild, with most feral pigeons probably dying within their first five years of life.

Feral pigeons pollute and damage

While pigeons help to keep our streets clean of food waste, they make plenty of mess of their own. Stonework, vehicle paintwork and the personal dignity of town and city dwellers are the daily victims of pigeon droppings.

Once prized as a quality fertilizer, pigeon excrement is not just unsightly, it’s also highly corrosive and a health hazard. The acids it contains will eat their way through paint, wood, steel and stone. Millions of pounds have been spent restoring historic buildings which had suffered major damage from a build-up of pigeon droppings.

Their waste, and the birds themselves, can also contain parasites and other sources of diseases. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the feral pigeon has been associated with the villainous Professor Moriaty on the silver screen, as both can present a rather nasty hazard to human health.

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Tips for DIY Pest Control

Last week saw feline Larry catapulted into the national headlines, when he was appointed ‘Mouser to the Cabinet’ and moved into 10 Downing Street. (Did you spot our awful pun? Sorry, couldn’t resist it.)

That set us thinking about what you could do, at home or at work, to deter common pests.

1. Get a cat. This seems an obvious place to start. If it’s good enough for David Cameron’s rat problems, it’s good enough for yours. But not any old cat will do. Larry has a ‘high chase-drive and hunting instinct’, according to Downing Street.

Of course, if your main pest problem isn’t rats or mice, but something like woodworm or wasps, a cat won’t be much use. But stroking it will help bring down your stress levels, which is always a good thing.

2. Tidy up after yourself. Many pests are attracted to mess, particularly if it includes things they can eat. Rodents, Cockroaches, pigeons, Flies and Fleas all thrive in dirty, untidy settings. The other really good thing about tidying up is that it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

3. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Your eyes are the best pest detectors we know of. Even if the vermin remain out of sight they often leave evidence you should spot – such as droppings, itchy bite marks, or small holes. If something suggests there’s a potential problem you should act quickly before it becomes more serious.

4. Deter rather than destroy. It’s better to keep pests away than to clean up after them. A good place to start is by stopping up any small holes that they might use to come inside your home or workplace. If birds, particularly Feral Pigeons, are a problem you could install anti-roosting Bird Spikes or Netting.

Some pests are put off by noise. If you think Rats or Mice might be snuggling down in your compost bins, give the sides a sharp whack with a stick when you pass – they don’t like noisy neighbours.

5. Call a professional. Yes, we know this isn’t strictly a DIY tip, but if there’s a problem you need help with, it’ll be you that needs to make the call!

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Pigeons – More Than Fowl Vermin?

The robin and pigeon both enjoy an iconic status in Britain. The cheery, red-breasted chap brightens our winters inside and out. He’s a common sight in our gardens and on our Christmas cards.

His larger cousin, the feral pigeon, has pecked itself into a symbol of city living and formed an unassailable bond with a national institution, Trafalgar Square. When Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London at the time, tried to evict pigeons from the landmark in 2000, he met with unexpected resistance from the birds’ human supporters.

Feral pigeons in LondonIs the little bird who visits your home or office a pest or a pleasure? A bold little robin is entertaining the folk of Aberdeen this winter, popping into his local Co-op for a daily breakfast of crumbs. But he might not be so welcome if he were a Feral Pigeon. Despite having a small, vocal fan base, feral pigeons are not popular with most city dwellers. They’re called ‘rats with wings’ by many of us. They make unwelcome visits to homes and commercial premises across our cities, perching on window sills and roofs and leaving unwelcome and damaging deposits. Their acidic droppings eat away stone surfaces and car paintwork.

Pigeons are often the target of pest control measures, designed either to deter them from moving in or to persuade them it’s time to move on. The brand new Ordnance Survey building in Southampton has a kite flying from its roof, which carries the image of a bird of prey. So far it’s proved an effective pigeon deterrent.

Unlike the little robin, who usually travels alone, feral pigeons move in packs. Well, flocks to be precise, but that term doesn’t capture the arrogant swagger of fat grey birds with aggressive territorial ambitions. They appear to eat almost anything and it’s by living off our rubbish that they’ve earned their reputation as aerial vermin.

Feral pigeons are descendants of the Rock pigeons that we domesticated hundreds of years ago. While we might now despise these grimy, ungainly birds, they’ve been dependant on us for food for generations. But that’s not to say we should have to accept their mess and nuisance.

Effective pest control measures have significantly reduced the number of feral pigeons in London. The 4,000 in Trafalgar Square have been cut to around 200. If they continue to become less common, they might even win back a place in our affections, alongside the round, red robin.

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