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Pigeons
Last Updated: 02/18/03
Common 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 sites.

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.

Damage
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.

Sanitation
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.

Exclusion
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 ineffective.
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
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.

Legal Status
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.

More Information
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.