Like rodents, pigeons are one of the few classes of vertebrate animals that can be considered urban pests.
The common pigeon is a synanthropic species: with the evolution of time, this species began to settle in urban environments, benefiting from the conditions created by human activity in the urbanization process. That is, pigeons take advantage of the urban context to find shelter and access food and water.
Because they are flying animals, pigeons (or doves) do not find predators in cities, allowing them to reproduce quickly, without much control, generating an ever-increasing population.
What do pigeons eat?
Pigeons prefer seeds, grains and insects, but will eat any food waste they find. Because they don't have teeth, birds have a structure connected to the stomach called gizzard, which allows them to grind the food they eat. And that's not all. Pigeons also ingest sand and small stones that allow them to crush and soften their food even better.
Where do pigeons live?
Pigeons live in cities and urban environments and have routine habits: they feed and nest in the same places every day and prefer spaces where they can find food. In rural areas, we find pigeons in places like stables, henhouses, barns, etc.
What are pigeon nests like?
To make their nests, pigeons use branches or dry branches of trees. Pigeons prefer flat places like tree branches where they can shelter from rain and cold.
Where to look for pigeon nests?
As a rule, pigeons choose trees for their nests. But the possibility of shelter and proximity to food means that, more and more, pigeons nest in tall buildings and flat roofs. Favorite nesting sites are porches, windowsills, chimneys and gutters. Checks for any crack greater than 25 mm, including loose tiles.
How long does a pigeon live?
In an urban environment, the lifespan of a pigeon is about 5 to 6 years. In a rural context, pigeons can live longer since they have less contact with diseases and the population imbalance is not so great.
What risks come from a pigeon plague?
The exaggerated increase in pigeon reproduction brings some risks to the environment, heritage and health.
The acidity present in pigeon droppings contributes to the dirtiness of public and private spaces, such as houses, patios and balconies. But it's not just dirt that's a problem. Over time, this acidity tends to corrode these spaces, causing irreparable damage to the property and triggering the degradation of monuments.
In addition to these damages, pigeons can transmit various diseases to other animals and to humans. This urban pest is not only an environmental problem, but also a public health risk. Some diseases caused by contact with pigeons are:
Tuberculosis comes from inhaling a bacterium that may be present in dust from dried pigeon droppings.
Cryptococcosis is an infection caused by inhaling a fungus present in dust from contaminated feces that affects the central nervous system and causes arthritis, pneumonia and meningitis.
This infection is transmitted by inhalation of an agent and causes pneumonia or, by direct contact, eye inflammation and sometimes blindness.
Salmonellosis is transmitted through the ingestion of Salmonella typhimurum bacteria, which can be present in pigeon feces and contaminate water or food, causing gastroenteritis and other gastric problems.
Finally, some parasites that infect pigeons, such as lice and mites, can lead to asthmatic bronchitis and allergic reactions in children, the elderly and other people sensitive to allergies and dermatitis.
The consequences of pigeon overpopulation have led some cities to take measures to control this pest. If you live in an area affected by this infestation, find out here how you can deal with the problem.