Relevant Natural History of the Rock Dove (feral pigeon): As their name implies, pigeons in their natural habitat live in hollows on rocky cliffs. Feral pigeons inhabit manmade structures such as ledges, windowsills, roof overhangs, sheltered beams, attics, etc., and vegetation such as palm trees, which approximate their natural habitat.
- Pigeons primarily eat seeds and grain but will also eat olives, berries, etc. They can travel many miles daily in search of food and may sample many feeding sites.
- Pigeons normally lay 2 eggs during each breeding cycle with typically 4 cycles per year. Breeding is most active in spring and summer but can occur year round.
- Pigeons are gregarious birds and congregate in flocks which readily accept newcomers of their species.
General Control Methods: The recommended method of pigeon control is exclusion. Typically, it is the most effective, long-term, safe, and economical approach. Each nest disabled equals an overall population reduction of two to six birds per year.
Health risks and precautions: Accumulations of organic or inorganic debris, if disturbed, may pose a problem if resulting airborne particles are inhaled. Therefore, general precautions, including those set forth by OSHA are applicable and should be taken whether or not pigeon or other bird waste is encountered.
Roosting areas: If visiting birds are creating a problem by roosting/loafing in specific places, stainless steel bird spikes or non-lethal electrified wire can be used on parapet walls, exposed beams, and pipes, etc. Aesthetically compatible bird netting can be used to exclude larger roosting sites. Use of phony predators, audio, chemical, and/or tactile repellents, etc., is generally NOT effective.
Specific Recommendations: Rooftop mechanical equipment, primarily evaporative coolers, HVAC ductwork, etc., provides suitable nesting sites for pigeons. Excluding birds from these areas can be relatively easily accomplished by enclosing the cooler bases, openings under ductwork, etc., with hardware cloth, netting, sheet metal, wood, siding, etc.
Habitable vegetation: Untrimmed palm trees provide ideal breeding sites for pigeons and other birds. Trimming and maintaining these trees so that fronds are kept at a vertical angle of 45 degrees or greater will prevent pigeons from nesting on them.
Attractant elimination: Modifying the habitat will greatly reduce or eliminate the resident pigeon population and number of on-site birds. To further reduce the number of birds just visiting from surrounding areas, eliminate as many food sources as possible, as follows:
- Store edible garbage in covered containers.
- Spray, prune, or eliminate fruit, berry, or seed bearing plants such as Olive, Sumac, and Mulberry trees, pyracantha bushes, etc., to prevent them from producing food for the birds.
- Discourage persons from feeding the birds.
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