Being nicknamed rats of the sky doesn’t do much for a bird’s reputation, perhaps the comparison is a little harsh, but pigeons can be pests with wings. We are so used to the sight of pigeons pecking around city centers that we barely blink when they flock into our world. Yet, these seemingly harmful creatures are the cause of plenty of hair pulling for architects, construction staff, and building owners.
Pigeons have adapted impeccably well to our modern environment. Historically they would live on the edge of cliffs and swoop to the sea to gather food. Now, they live high in makeshift penthouse apartments, nest in rooftops and attic spaces and survive and thrive on our food scraps. Much like rats they have evolved to live alongside us and to flourish from our inadvertent encouragement.
Seems harmless enough, almost an impressive tour de force of evolution. Yet, pigeons are dangerous critters – thanks to their highly acidic and corrosive droppings.
Having pigeons perched atop your buildings, roosting on your balcony or in your roof is a problem. We tend to have an out of sight, out of mind mentality to roosting birds, but left to their own devices and the signs of wear and tear will come thick and fast. Female pigeons can produce 9 broods a year, and these birds can live to the ripe old age of 30. Once they get settled in a spot, you could be hosting these birds for generations.
Pigeons live in flocks, sometimes there can be up to 500 birds in one flock. If you have one pigeon squatting your building – you can be sure there are more to come. Pigeons can slip through a gap of 25mm or wider and they are determined little creatures. They won’t think twice about smashing a tile or two to get into the comfort and warmth of your loft.
Pigeons are a major health hazard, they carry parasites and disease and their droppings are not only unsightly, but have the power to do real damage. They damage structures, invite rot and decay, and have even been known to fully damage important historical listed buildings simply through roosting there.
Make no mistake, a pigeon invasion is serious business and efforts should be made immediately to keep things under control.
A good indication that pigeons have moved into the neighborhood can be as straightforward as seeing them flock to your roof or hanging out on windowsills and ledges. The odd pigeon may just pass through, but when you start to see crowds congregating, this could be a sign of a more serious and semi-permanent problem.
Along with sighting the birds, you may also catch sight of their droppings. Pigeon excrement is white and black, if there is a problem you are sure to see marks left by pigeon droppings on the fascia of the building, on the ground and cars below, and staining the ledges.
Another sign of forced entry from our feathered friends could be seeing damaged and loose tiles. You may also find scattered materials around your premises, usually twigs and straw and dried droppings, where the pigeons have been collecting for their nests. Of course, feathers are another sure sign that close by there is a crowd of pigeons partying on your dime.
Aside from visual clues, you may also be able to hear signs of a pigeon invasion. Pigeons like to coo, often these are males sending out an audible signal that they are defending their territory. You may also hear pigeon chicks calling for food consistently.
If you see or hear pigeons on a regular basis, notice missing or damaged roof tiles, and find your façade covered in droppings – then a pigeon invasion is probably happening right on your doorstep.
Pigeons can cause major damage if left to run riot in your building. Every year flocks of pigeons are solely responsible for millions of pounds worth of damage when it comes to homes, buildings, cars, machinery, ventilation systems and more – the list is dizzying.
One of the main things to suffer when there is a pigeon problem is the roof. As mentioned earlier, pigeon droppings are highly acidic and when the droppings accumulate – they can wear through your roof materials in no time.
Pigeons also remove tiles to force their way in, this can also result in your roof letting in water or letting out the heat. As these birds also like to build their nests in gutters and drains, they can block the drainage systems and encourage standing water.
Back to the pesky poop, the acidic droppings have been known to cause damage to machinery and tools. From air conditioning systems to industrial machinery, and even vehicle paint – all these things can be stripped away and damaged if left to the mercy of pigeons.
Attics, ceilings, and anywhere with exposed openings – if they can get in, pigeons will find a home in their favorite high ledge and start to make a home. It’s not unheard of for ceilings to collapse beneath the weight of a pigeon infestation, especially when the weight of the birds, their nests, and their droppings are all left to accumulate.
Having a ceiling stuffed with dried twigs and sticks, alongside dried up droppings makes for a highly flammable fire risk. Pigeon nests are perfect kindling, when these birds get comfortable near any electrical wires or machinery -there is an unnecessary risk that needs to be abolished immediately.
Warehouses and restaurants need to be exceptionally careful when it comes to pigeons finding a pocket in the building. Pigeon droppings are about as unhygienic as it gets, and having pigeons flocking about means that food and materials become contaminated in seconds flat. This can lead to huge losses in earnings when you have to throw things out.
It’s not unheard of for pigeons to build their nests within ventilation pipes and halfway up chimneys. This can block the system and have catastrophic effects, especially when it comes to the risk of carbon monoxide. Diseases can also be spread via the ventilation system.
Damage done by pigeons doesn’t just stop at the exterior – these birds are also terrible for your health. The combination of droppings, feathers, and detritus left by them become a rich breeding ground for bacteria and disease. Parasites can also find their way into the home thanks to a pigeon infestation. Salmonella and tuberculosis are also common diseases carried by pigeons.
Those with asthma, allergies and skin reactions may also find that pigeons bring all kinds of misery with them. Often these ailments are spread through contact with droppings, feathers, and detritus from nests.
Fungal infections with frightening names also come from pigeon droppings; histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis. While these are rare, it’s not something you want to risk.
Finally, guava rich pigeon droppings are full of moisture meaning that any place where there is a build-up you may see mold. Slippery beneath the feet, building sites need to be extra cautious when it comes to pigeon droppings as they can present an added problem in this department.
It’s clear that pigeons pose a problem and it’s better to sweep the nightmare away rather than sweep it beneath the carpet. Pigeons aren’t your regular pests, there is no spray on solution or fast home eradication tool.
Poisoning pigeons is against the law, and you can forget about trying to take a pop shot at them with an air rifle. Some people will tell you to addle the eggs – to get a stick and smash the eggs until the pigeons get the point and move on. Not only is this inhumane and unnecessary but it’s an offense to interfere with a nest and its contents without seeking permission from DEFRA.
Trapping pigeons is one method, but this is highly time consuming and even after a few have been caught and cleared, there is little to stop a new brood from moving their things in and taking over.
Pigeon repellents can be purchased, these won’t hurt the birds but make the living environment a not very hospitable place to stay. Usually they come in liquid or gel form and are soft and sticky or can be hot (made from peppers, etc.). They are cheap and can be effective, but they are also messy and a short-term solution.
One of the most common solutions for keeping pigeons out is bird spikes. You can attach a row of spikes to your ledges, guttering, and any other place where pigeons like to chill up in the rafters. Done right, they prevent the birds from landing and setting up home. However, spikes cannot always be used – especially on listed and heritage buildings as they are unsightly. Also, this is more a preventative method as opposed to a solution to an active infestation.
At Project Multi Pest we deal with pigeon problems the way nature intended. Our birds of prey are the perfect secret weapon against roosting pigeons and they leave no unsightly spikes or toxins anywhere near your building.
Using our beautiful Harris Hawk and Saker Falcon, our birds of prey will regularly fly over the problem site, establishing to other birds that this spot is taken. Pigeons and other problem birds will quickly get the idea that this territory belongs to a bird of prey and they will speedily take their business elsewhere.
Our birds have been lovingly hand-reared since birth and are highly adept at working in noisy built up settings without being fazed. They have no issue soaring over factory units, industrial sites, stadiums and city center buildings. They have also been around the public their whole life so aren’t bothered by people in the slightest. Our birds have an article 10 certificate issued by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Our method of clearing pigeons is the most natural solution you can choose; ethical, safe, and totally humane – you can clear away your pigeon problem without the guilt.
Keeping pigeons at bay in the future takes a little bit of planning. The first step is to pigeon proof your property as best you can. Discourage any potential roosters by investing in pigeon spikes, bird nets and bird wire. Spikes and nets will prevent the birds from gaining access to the flat surfaces and ledges which won’t leave them a sanctuary for their nests.
You should also make an effort to seal up any gaps and ensure your roof tiles are all in place. Be sure to get under the eaves and check that there are no gaps or entry points into your property from there too.
Another highly important preventative measure is the same with any pest – limit the food intake. Clean up any leftover food and ensure food waste is stashed away and fully sealed. Make sure that you don’t feed the pigeons as this will cause them to flock and encourages them to breed more readily in the area if they know there is a sustainable source of food.
If you want to keep pigeons out of your garden, you could also consider a motion sensor sprinkler to drive them away before they even touch down. In contrast, removing a water source will also deter the pigeons from coming home to roost as it will become far from convenient.
Pigeons and other birds can be pests, but sometimes the solution is a lot simpler than it first appears. Fighting fire with fire is the best method in this case - get a bigger bird to claim the territory and the pigeons will steer clear – leaving your building bright, clean and healthy.
We cover areas all around Kent, the charming seaside locale where we live. Being beside the sea means we raise happy healthy dogs who enjoy a wonderful balance and business and play. We also spread our services out to London.
If you suspect your home may have fallen victim to a pigeon invasion, then please do not hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us a line.