Pest Control News

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

How to Deal with Pigeons?

Dealing with feral pigeons

The discussion regarding pigeons and the nuisance that they can be, is a sensitive subject. Some see them as an integral part of the environment but others see them as a nuisance and vermin.

There is, however, a need to have this discussion as research has shown that the number of feral pigeons, those that we commonly see roosting on buildings and the like, have been increasing in recent years.

There are many reasons why their numbers have swollen;
  • Descended from wild rock doves, in urban areas the feral pigeon population has increased enormously and was reason is the man-made built environment. In the wild, pigeons roost on cliff edges, with the ledges and edges of buildings and roofs being similar
  • Feeding pigeons has also meant that they numbers have swelled, as the birds become more robust and well fed
  • They breed all year round too if food is plentiful, with each pair raising three to six broods a year, with two squabs (young) in each brood
  • In the nest, pigeons will normally use sticks but, in urban areas any kind of rubbish will suffice, including strips of plastic and so on


As you can see, the pigeon has adopted to the urban environment well, taking advantage of the opportunities afforded it.

However, there are some people who regard pigeons as a nuisance pest, and with good reason in some cases;

  • Damage – pigeon droppings are not only unsightly but acidic, which means that over time, damage is caused to the fa├žade of a building. Their nests can also block gutters, as well as air vents.
  • Health – pigeons also carry a range of diseases which can be transmitted to humans should their droppings come in contact with food stuffs. This is the common reason why food serving premises etc. cannot and will not tolerate pigeons on or around their buildings.
  • Accidents – fresh pigeon droppings are also slimy, and can if there is a large amount of pavements and so on, cause someone to lose their footing and slip.
  • Birds – pigeons, due to their size and numbers, can also drive other birds away from an area. Even though you may feed the garden birds from feeders and so on, somehow the pigeon always manages to steal some food too. They can also pass disease on to other birds.

Statutory nuisance

Overall, it is the responsibility of a business or homeowner to ensure that their property does not attract or harbour pests. In other words, if you see a problem you should deal with it.

In terms of pigeons and other birds, many businesses invest in bird proofing measures with the statutory powers, such as the local authority only getting involved when there is a statutory nuisance.

Defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a statutory nuisance refers to noise, smoke, smell, artificial light, insect infestations from industrial or trade units and accumulation of deposits (droppings, rubbish and so on). The important thing to note about this is that a local authority will only act when the pest, in this case the accumulation of pigeon droppings, is related to an address.

And so, there is not much that can be done in public space in terms of forcing the hand of a local authority but, when it comes to business or domestic dwellings, if the accumulation of pigeons, droppings and so on is encroaching on the enjoyment of nearby properties, the person or business could be served with an abatement notice.

In other words, they need to stop what they are doing that encourages pigeons in to area; in some cases, a householder – your neighbour - may be feeding the birds by scattering food in the open. It may be that the pigeons roosting on a business premises are defecating on a walkway that could lead to someone being injured.

Being served with an abatement notice instantly puts the person or business under pressure. The best way forward, if there is an issue with pigeons is to take a serious look bird proofing measures.

However, it is always best to buy in the services of a professional pest controller as despite pigeons being a pest in some cases, how they are treated and euthanized is quite specific. They are, for example, protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which specifies they must only be controlled by authorised persons, such as a qualified pest controller. They cannot be entangled or gassed, but trapped or drugged, and only the humanely destroyed.

In summary


All this said, no local authority or Government legislation encourages euthanizing pigeons. Control is the key issues, from bird proofing to ensuring that food is not offered to them, or that the opportunity to access food is removed. This is a far more humane way of controlling pigeon population numbers.