Pigeons are cool. They’re capable of great feats making their way back to their home nests from over a thousand miles away. They were used to deliver critical, life-saving messages and updates during World War II. There have even been studies demonstrating that pigeons can be taught how to tell time, distinguish written words, judge art, and even diagnose cancer.
Despite their great intellectual capabilities, pigeons are also pest birds… especially to business owners here in New York. Unfortunately, you probably know pigeons better as a nuisance than as time-telling, art-judging world travelers. It’s hard to appreciate the history of a bird when that bird is defecating all over your business! Here’s everything you should know about the pigeon pests that end up a little too close to home–including how to keep them away from your business.
What are Pigeons?
While there are approximately 350 recorded varieties of pigeon worldwide, we’ll only be referring to the feral pigeon (Columba livia domestica). Feral pigeons are by far the most common city pigeon you’ll see in New York City. Feral pigeons typically measure between 30 and 40 cm long with a 65-75 cm wingspan. They usually have blu-ish grey feathers with green and purplish iridescence on the neck and wings. Their eyes can be orange, red, brown, or greyish brown.
Feral pigeons are monogamous and mate for life. They breed all year, but they’re especially prolific in spring and summer. A single pair of pigeons typically care for two eggs at a time, incubating them for two to three weeks. Pigeons can reproduce for their entire life spans anytime after reaching around six months old. Feral pigeons can live for up to 15 years in captivity, but usually only survive 3 and 5 years in the wild. The pest bird subsist on seeds primarily, but they’ll also consume insects, worms, fruit, and garbage.
Why are pigeons common in New York?
In the 1600s, European settlers brought the original pigeons to America to use as farm animals and food. Unfortunately, however, some of the birds escaped captivity and spread through the Americas as an invasive species. Characteristically, pigeons like nesting in caves and crevices. New York’s high-rise buildings provide all kinds of small cave-like nooks and crannies for pigeons to build nests in. Pigeons find these nesting sites and use them to breed rapidly and continuously. New York also offers pigeons an abundance of garbage and other easy-to-steal foods they use to feed their offspring. Between the nesting sites and the food availability, New York is the perfect place for pigeons to settle down… and spread out.
Pigeon Exclusion Tips
Pigeons might be all over New York City, but that doesn’t mean they have to be all over your business. By following each of these exclusion tips, you can keep them from gathering, roosting, or breeding near you.
Don’t feed the birds.
Many city pigeons rely on humans for food, but they don’t need it from you. Pigeons are surprisingly smart, so if they know they can get food near you, they’ll keep coming back. If you can demonstrate that they can’t get food near you, they’ll start looking for it somewhere else.
Keep garbage bins clean and locked.
Intentional feeding is one problem; unintentional feeding is another. Don’t let pigeons dig through your garbage for food. Clean your garbage bins and keep them tightly sealed whenever you aren’t using them.
Install anti-roosting spikes.
Pigeons like to nest in crevices. They also have acidic waste. Unfortunately, roosting pigeons’ waste can damage the front of your building over time. The best way to prevent this damage is to keep pigeons from nesting on your building in the first place. Invest in bird spikes, weather strips, or – in some cases – even commercial-grade bird netting.
Install predator statues.
Seriously! If you don’t find them too tacky, installing concrete owl or hawk statues on your building can help keep pigeons away.
The last tip we have is that, if you ever suspect you have a pigeon infestation, to call a local commercial pest management company. Assured Environments’ local experts will help you safely remove any pest birds bothering your business. Give us a call anytime – we’ve got your back.