pigeons or Rock Dove were introduced into the US from
Europe as domesticated birds that escaped and formed wild
populations. Pigeons can be found near parks, city buildings,
feed mills, grain elevators, residential neighborhoods,
and other areas that provide roosting, nesting or feeding
How Do I Know if I Have Pigeons?
Typically, the birds have gray bodies with a whitish rump,
two black bars on the secondary wing feathers, a broad
black band on the tail and red feet. Body color can vary
greatly, ranging from gray to white, tan and blackish.
The average weight is 13 ounces and the average length
is 11 inches. Nests are made out of sticks, twigs and
grasses clumped together to form a crude platform.
Pigeon feces deposited on cars, statues, park benches,
and buildings is not only unsightly, but also accelerates
deterioration especially to buildings. Pigeon nests
may clog drain pipes, interfere with awnings, and make
fire escapes unsafe. Pigeons are infested with many
external parasites including mites, fleas, ticks, and
bugs many of which will readily bite people. These parasites
frequently will invade homes from pigeon nests located
in or on the building. Pigeons are the carriers of diseases
such as salmonella and others that affect humans and
domestic animals alike.
Pigeons can threaten human safety around airports where
there is a possibility for flocks to collide with in-flight
aircraft. There have been several instances of jet aircraft
engines failing when they collide with bird flocks,
causing human fatalities.
Pigeons displace native birds as a result of these aggressive
invaders out competing them for food and nesting sites
ControlAnytime the management of
a pest species is considered, it is important to recognize
that in general, no one course of action or solution
will eliminate the problem. It will usually require
the use of several techniques to bring any long term
resolution to the problem. Prevention is still the best
solution to any pest control problem, but if it has
progressed beyond that stage, it is best to consider
all options before adopting your final plan of attack
. Frightening devices, shooting, nest removal and repellents
are all viable components to control programs, but are
of somewhat narrow scope and will not discussed here.
Toxicants for pigeons are only registered for use by
licensed pest control operators.
Pigeons, like most animals, are opportunists that will
readily exploit the easily available food, shelter and
water that can be found in urban areas. Clean up efforts
should be directed toward the removal of food attractants
such as uncovered garbage cans and untidy dumpsters.
It is always unwise to feed pigeons. Not only does it
make pigeons dependant on human hand outs, but most
of the things fed to them are nutritionally inferior
to their natural foods and makes them more susceptible
to disease. The removal of food attractants often enhances
other control methods by reducing the incentive of the
birds to be there in the first place.
The permanent solution to excluding pigeons from openings
or spaces is to block the openings with wood, galvanized
wire mesh or plastic netting. Ornamental architecture
can be screened with nylon netting to prevent roosting,
loafing and nesting, but it may not be aesthetically
pleasing. Permanent exclusion of pigeons from ledges,
window sills, and roof peaks can be accomplished with
the use of a series of wire spikes. These products are
commercially available. The sharp pointed wires cause
the birds to avoid landing on these surfaces; however,
it is important to maintain these area clean of accumulated
leaves, trash and debris as this can make the spikes
Roosting on ledges can be discouraged by changing the
ledge angle to 45 degrees or more. Wood, sheet metal,
or stone can be formed and fastened to ledges to achieve
the desired angle.
Trapping can be an effective way to control a large
colony of pigeons that use regular feeding and roosting
areas. In most urban areas, the low profile trap is
the best choice since most trapping will take place
on the roof of a building or other raised platform.
Traps can be purchased from trapping supply catalogs,
feed stores, or from the agricultural commissioners
office. To see traps click here. Traps can be made at
home as well. Traps should be baited with some type
of grain, chicken scratch being the most economical.
Water and shade must be provided for trapped birds.
Traps should be monitored daily, and trapped birds removed.
Birds removed from traps must be disposed of quickly
and humanely. For help on the humane disposal of trapped
pigeons, contact your local humane society or animal
shelter. Unfortunately pigeons released back into the
"wild" will likely return, even when relocated
50 miles away.
Feral pigeons are not protected by federal or state
statute. There is a wild, native pigeon occurring in
parts of Los Angeles County called the Band-Tailed Pigeon.
Band-Tails are found mostly in the foothill areas, do
not readily live in or on buildings, and rarely cause
problems. Band-Tails are classified as a migratory game
bird and you must obtain a permit from the California
Department of Fish and Game before attempting to control
them. A permit is not required to scare or herd Band-Tails.
Antwerp or homing pigeons are the domestic birds that
have a band on their leg indicating that they belong
to someone. It is a misdemeanor to kill them. It is
important that you check around your neighborhood for
pigeon hobbyists before you begin a control program
to avoid any accidental removal of their birds. There
may be municipal restrictions on the taking or methods
of taking pigeons under their jurisdiction. Always check
if there are any local laws or licenses that must be
obtained before beginning any control project.
For more detailed information on pigeon control, contact
the office of the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner/Weights
and Measures Department, Pest Management Division at
(626) 575-5462 and request a copy of the PEST INFORMATION
SERIES on Pigeons. That document can also be downloaded
in PDF format by clicking here.