Pest of the month


Feral pigeons (Columba livia domestica), also known as city doves, city pigeons, or street pigeons, are decendants of domestic pigeons.

The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the wild rock dove, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains.

Abandoned buildings are favourite nesting areas. Mass nesting is common as pigeons are a community flocking bird; often, dozens of birds share a building. Loose tiles and broken windows provide access, and pigeons are adept at spotting new access points, for example following property damage caused by strong winds.

Nests and droppings tend to stay clustered and remain dry when out of the weather. Pigeons are particularly fond of roof spaces. These often contain water tanks. Any water tank or cistern on a roof must, therefore, be secured and sealed off to keep the pigeons out of them. The popularity of a nesting area does not seem to be affected by the pigeons' population density.

On undamaged property, the gutters, window air conditioners and empty air conditioner containers, chimney pots, and external ledges are used as nesting sites.

Many building owners try to limit roosting by using bird control spikes and netting to cover ledges and potential nesting places on buildings. This is designed to reduce the accumulation of droppings on and around a particular building or location.

In the UK, pigeons are covered under the "General Licences" and can be humanely culled by the land owner or their agent for a variety of reasons. It is not legal to kill/destroy nests for any other reason other than those listed under the general licences.

One of the difficulties of controlling pigeon populations is the common practice of feeding them.

Feral pigeons are often considered a pest or even vermin, owing to concerns that they spread disease especially bird flu, howevert it has been shown pigeons do not carry the deadly H5N1 strain. It is rare that a pigeon will transmit a disease to humans due to their immune system. However, other contagion besides bird flu are transmitted by pigeons. For example, the bacteria Chlamydophila psittaci is endemic among pigeons and causes psittacosis in humans. It is transmitted both from handling pigeons but mostly from their droppings.

Psittacosis is a serious disease but rarely fatal (less than 1%). Pigeons are also important vectors for different species of the bacteria Salmonella which causes diseases as salmonallosis and paratyphoid fever.

There is ample reason for the concerns of pigeons damaging property, due to their size and proximity to people and their dwellings. Pigeons often cause significant pollution with their droppings.,

Long-term reduction of feral pigeon populations can be achieved by restricting food supply, which in turn can involve legislation and litter control.

If you have a problem with Feral Pigeons or any other pests, please get in touch with us.