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.
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.
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 disease is 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.
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 pigeons is when avicides are used, this has been an 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 untreated 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 not to kill the birds. Once distressed the birds move on to another location that they perceive as safer and more suitable. This is not a permanent method of treatment or control but can be very effective is properly performed with a pre-baiting program done before the bait is used.
Exclusion is most effective method of control because it permanently takes away the pigeons ability to gain access to protected areas that are desired for roosting and nesting. This can be done using a wide variety of materials from netting, hardware clothe or actual construction. Each year new and innovative products are introduced and each product and method has its pros and cons but their use depend son the areas that the infestation is occurring.
The use of deterrents is almost along the same lines as performing exclusion just in a different form. There are times the pigeons are using areas of a structure that are not covered and cannot be netted or screened off. In these circumstances spikes, optical discs and even tracking that provides a small non-lethal shock to move birds along can be most effective. To determine the best method an evaluation of the area must first be performed. 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.
Trapping is another form of control that can be used. This method like the baiting is effective but is not permanent, as birds will sometimes return because the condition that is attracting them is still viable. 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.