Common pests

Pigeons

Feral pigeons are found worldwide and throughout Britain, mainly in urban environments, where they depend largely on man for their food supply.

Facts about pigeons

Feral pigeons are about 33cm in length and weigh up to 560g with an average of about 350g. Their plumage can vary considerably, through blue-grey, various 'blues' and 'reds' to chequered types and almost pure black. Most types have double black wing bars. Feral pigeons are capable of breeding throughout the year, with the peak occurring between March and July. Nests are built in or on buildings and other structures, normally on ledges or in hollows or under eaves or on girders. Young birds become independent after 30-37 days and between 4-9 broods (average 2 birds per brood) may be reared during a year.

How do they affect me?

Feral pigeons depend largely on man for food and it is because of this that they have become a pest, fouling buildings, pavements etc. where they nest or roost. Not only is this fouling unsightly, but it may also be destructive, eroding stonework, blocking gutters and downpipes and causing potential slipping hazards on pavements, ladders and fire escapes. Also food stored in warehouses and processing plants may be eaten or contaminated. In addition, feral pigeons are capable of transmitting disease, although there is a lack of evidence regarding the transmission of diseases to humans, such as ornithosis and salmonellosis.

How do you control them?

Feral pigeons are included in Part II of schedule 2 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and so may be killed or taken by any owner or occupier. However, the control must be humane and there are strict controls on the methods, which can be used. The two most common and traditional methods of bird control are shooting and trapping. Shooting can be effective, but usually only where small numbers of pigeons are involved, but the places where this can be done are limited and may require police permission, and they should be consulted in all cases. A 22 air rifle can be used to shoot pigeons. Trapping can be used effectively, with varying sizes and designs of pigeon trap commercially available. Again there are controls on the use of traps. Another option is the proofing of buildings against pigeons using repellents, which are jelly like substances, which make window ledges and sills unattractive to perching or roosting birds. There are also a number of other devices, which can be fitted to ledges and window sills to keep birds off.

Pest control service

We do not offer a pigeon control service, however we do have the power to investigate pigeon infestation in certain circumstances.

Further information advice is available from the Pigeon Control Resource Centre.