Pigeons are a common sight in urban environments. The “Rock Dove” or “Rock Pigeon” will be a familiar species to Canadians, with pale grey feathers with two black bars on each wing. Pigeons are one of the world oldest domesticated birds. Many have been used to carry important messages during times of war and have even been decorated for their service in saving lives. However, advances in transportation and communication technology have all but wiped out jobs for carrier pigeons. Feral pigeons have dark, blue-gray heads with glossy yellow, greenish and reddish-purple markings along their neck and wing feathers. Today, pigeons are considered a nuisance and an urban pest by residents and commuters.
Why should I be concerned?
Pigeons carry many diseases that can affect humans and their pets. Some are serious enough to cause fatalities if left untreated; chlamydiosis, histoplasmosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and yersinniosis
Pigeons will often perch on the edges of balconies and ledges around buildings, giving them ample opportunities to drop their guano on the people and property below. Some of their favourite victims include freshly washed cars and the monuments and statues in public squares and parks.
Habitat and Behaviour
A day in the life of a pigeon
A pigeon’s normal gait includes a very characteristic motion of the head, appearing to move rhythmically forwards and backwards. Some studies have suggested that this habit aids in stabilizing their visual surroundings. In 1978, Dr. Barrie J. Frost ran an experiment in which a pigeon was made to walk on a treadmill. Since the pigeon was effectively running in one place, its head did not “bob”.
Pigeons are monogamous birds and mate for life. Both parents incubate the eggs and care for nestlings. The males build nests along coastal cliffs as well as artificial cliffs created by tall urban buildings with accessible ledges and roof spaces.
Pigeons do not have natural defense mechanisms to protect against predators. Their ability to fly is the only thing between them and predators on land which include opossums and raccoons. However, pigeons are often captured by predatory birds such as Peregrine Falcons, Red-tailed Hawks, and the Easter Screech Owls. Young pigeons and their eggs are also threatened by the exploding population of domestic and feral cats. Despite being on nearly every predator’s menu, pigeon populations are not in any danger of vanishing.
- Blue-grey plumage with iridescent throat feathers
- Wings often have two dark bars or spots but can also be plain
- Tail is usually dark tipped
- Approximately 29 to 37 cm long with a 62 to 72 cm wingspan
- Weight can range from 238 to 380 grams
Tips for prevention and control
These tips may help you get rid of pigeons around your home:
- Eliminate sources of food, including bird feeders intended for other species
- Repair and seal any damage to the exterior of buildings where they can build nests
- Place fake/statuettes of predatory birds near ledges
- Create an unwelcome environment with loud noises and/or water sprays to scare them away
Orkin Canada provides safe and humane ways to discourage pigeons and other birds from nesting on and around your property
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