It is estimated that there are over 400 million pigeons in the world, with nearly every urbanized city being occupied by some number of feral pigeons. Their name is derived from the Latin word pipio, which means “young cheeping.” These feral pigeons have served many purposes through the centuries, from food to fertilizer to communication specialists. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica, dwelling exclusively in densely populated areas.
People and pigeons have shared the planet for thousands of years. Archaeologists have uncovered images of pigeons in ancient Mesopotamia – modern day Iraq – that are thought to date back to 3,000 B.C. It is believed that the Sumerians of Mesopotamia were among the first to start breeding white doves from the feral pigeons which are familiar to our crowded cities today.
Though considered mostly a nuisance in our culture today, that was not always the case. Throughout history, pigeons have been worshipped as gods, revered as war heroes, and utilized as messengers. In medieval Europe, pigeon guano (pigeon poop!) was a valuable fertilizer.
It was such a valued commodity that guards had to be stationed outside of pigeon houses to ensure that thieves did not try to steal the guano. In England during the 15th and 16th centuries, pigeon guano was the only known source of saltpeter, which was used for gunpowder.
During both World War I and World War II, carrier pigeons saved many lives, as they were used to deliver messages behind enemy lines. Naval ships brought pigeons on board so, in the event of an attack, they could get the word out to their allies.
Even in ancient times pigeons were used to deliver messages. In the 5th century, B.C., Syria and Baghdad used them for communication between cities. In the ancient Olympic games, pigeons were released to broadcast scores of the sporting events, which is why white doves are symbolically released at the Olympics today.
At six months of age, the female pigeon can begin laying eggs, which are incubated by both the male and female parents. At around 30 days, the fledgling period begins for the baby bird and the process repeats itself. Pigeons have been known to live up to 15 years in some cases, but the typical lifespan is about three years.
The pigeon is one of the most intelligent species in the world. Yet, despite its great service to mankind through the centuries, the presence of pigeons can pose some problems for homeowners and city dwellers.
The waste can then be stirred up into the air by wind or foot traffic and inhaled by people. Some of these diseases can include E. Coli and the respiratory disease Histoplasmosis. Pigeons are also transmitters of fleas and mites, which are also nuisances to humans.
Since pigeons also build their nests and breed in buildings, they can cause significant property damage by interfering with electric elements and air conditioning units. Considering the various health and property risks pigeons bring, it is important to find ways to deter them from homes and businesses, just like fighting against cockroaches.
Proper home and property maintenance in the city will include deterring or eradicating birds from the area. To reduce the risk of disease and property damage, first try to clean up any pigeon droppings as soon as the waste is discovered. Be sure to wear disposable clothing that covers the skin, shoe coverings, and gloves. Consider the benefits of using an air purifier, as well, to minimize the risk of respiratory disease.
There are many bird control products available on the market, such as control gel, wire barriers, spikes, and shock.
There are some natural and quick ways to deter pigeons from taking over. Spike strips are designed to make area occupied by pigeons uncomfortable and unappealing. Seeing the spikes will motivate the pigeons to find another home.
Waterproof strings can also be hung around the nesting areas. These will prevent the pigeons from being able to balance on the string and make them less likely to inhabit the area.
Also, never feed pigeons, as they will keep returning to an area they consider a food source.
Be sure to seal off any openings in the attic or chimney, as they are popular dwelling spots for pigeons. Use steel mesh caps or other durable exclusion materials to keep the birds away. Window air conditioning units may also need to be covered with a net to prevent pigeons from getting into it.
Some homeowners may spray the pigeons with a water hose as a deterrent. Also, some old-timers report that hanging mirrors or wind chimes will keep away pigeons, as seeing their reflection scares them.
Since pigeon control is a priority for many home and business owners, we have rounded up some of the best pigeon products on the market to review, including decoys, spikes, gel, tape, and netting.
This is a hand-painted statue standing over 16 inches tall. The owl decoy provides a humane method of pest control and has also been known to keep away woodpeckers, rabbits, and raccoons. This product includes two hooks on which it can hang outside or in a window.
It may also be secured on the ground with stakes. Its hollow bottom also offers the option of filling the figure with gravel or sand to keep it secure.
Since hawks are feared in the animal kingdom for their hunting prowess, this product may be highly effective at keeping away pigeons. It includes loop and string, as well as a bag to store its removable wings when not in use.
A flexible base allows the spikes to be installed on both flat and curved surfaces. It may be used in garages, rooftops, windowsills, fences, or signs. The product comes with adhesive, nails, screws, and ties. Just clean debris such as leaves and sticks out of the spikes occasionally to maintain effectiveness.
The spike feature keeps a variety of bird species from landing on building nests on the property. Its durable, long-lasting materials make it a permanent and humane solution to pigeon control.
Pigeons have served many productive purposes through the centuries but now their presence can be destructive. Considering these humane, affordable products for pigeon control can keep homes and properties safe and clean by encouraging feral pigeons to make their homes elsewhere.