Pigeons get a rough deal these days. At one time they were popular pets and were admired for their abilities to travel long distances and deliver messages. In places like London’s Trafalgar Square they were considered to be a tourist attractions and tourists were sold seeds by vendors to feed them.
Now that we’re told that they are vermin, pest control companies in London are inundated with work from people who are worried about the damage to health and buildings that they are causing. There is even a ban on feeding them introduced by the major Ken Livingstone in 2003. To combat this an organization called Save The Trafalgar Square Pigeons was set up to feed them in an area that is not affected by the ban.
Are pigeons really so bad?
There’s lots of different types of pigeon but the one that we commonly know as a pigeon is the feral pigeon, also known as the city pigeon.
Some people claim that pigeons spread bird flu but this is not true, it’s been proved beyond doubt that they don’t carry it.
The main diseases that pigeons can cause among humans are psittacosis, salmonella and paratyphoid fever which they transmit from droppings, but medical experts say that the chances of a human catching them are very rare indeed, we’re being made to worry unnecessarily.
The other charge leveled at pigeons is that their droppings also make a bit of a mess on buildings. This is probably true but then so does lots of other types of pollution in cities. I can however see that numbers need to be managed. Pigeons can lay eggs 6 times a year so the numbers of them can quickly become unmanageable.
To try and control pigeons various things are tried. Some of the main ones that are used are:
1. Ultrasonic devices, that make high pitched noises to try and scare them away.
2. Netting – this is put up to stop the pigeons getting to buildings to roost and nest
3. Chemicals – sticky chemicals are put up to deter the pigeons from roosting
4. Anti-perching devices – To stop the pigeons landing, Pest control London advise using these large spikes to deter the pigeons.
5. Hawks have been introduced in some places like Trafalgar Square to try and scare pigeons away.
For me however pigeons are unfairly maligned. As a bird lover I enjoy seeing birds in the city. Obviously it’s not the same enjoyment as you get from bird watching but I think they are attractive birds. It’s sad that our views of pigeons have changed so much, leave pigeons alone!