Also known as common pigeon or rock dove, a pigeon has a long history of existence, even in the urban setting. For more than 5,000 years, it has coexisted with humans and they were used both for entertainment and food. A pigeon has an average length of 11 to 14 inches, weight of 9 to 13 ounces, and a wingspan of 20 to 26 inches. The color varies, but most of them are gray. One of their distinguishing characteristics is their round tail, which comes with a dark tip. Their head, on the other hand, is dark blue to gray. They also have black a bill, red feet, and white feathers on their lower back.
Pigeons are adaptable birds, and hence, they can survive in a wide array of environments. Whether in urban or rural settings, it is possible to see pigeons. In the wild, they thrive in cliffs, caves, and coastal regions. In the city, towering buildings act as their natural cliffs. They are also scavengers, which is why they often feed on trash cans or anywhere they have an opportunity to find food. Feral pigeon is the one that commonly exists in areas of human habitation.
Identifying Pigeon’s Damage
Pigeons eat plant not only in the garden, but even in agricultural lands. This makes them a big problem for commercial growers. Among others, their most common hosts are plants from the Brassica family, which include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. They can also feed of peas, lilac, and cherry.
The following are some of the most common signs that pigeons are damaging your plants:
- You will see gross pigeon droppings all over the garden and the roof of your house. Their fecal matter is not only unsightly but they can also attract other pests in the garden, such as rats. It is also highly-acidic, which can make it cause stains on the roof or floor.
- Pigeons use their beaks for pecking on their host plants. With this, the leaves will show torn edges and ripped portions. If the attack is severe, it will remove all the leaves from the plant and will leave only the stalk.
- If you have currant and cherries, they can also completely consume the fruit. In the case of larger fruits, there will be damages on the surface, which result from the pecking of pigeons.
Results of Infestation
From the symptoms above, it is pretty much obvious that most of the damages from pigeons will be cosmetic by nature. For home gardeners, they will make the plants unattractive. For crop growers, on the other hand, the consequences will be more serious. It can inhibit the growth of some crops, especially brassicas. This means that you cannot expect anything during harvest. The feeding on the fruit, on the other hand, will make the produce unmarketable. This means that you are most likely to suffer from an economic loss.
How to Get Rid of Pigeons
Natural and Organic Solutions
For effective control of pigeons without the need to resort to toxic solutions, the following are some that can prove to be promising:
- Habitat modification is one thing that will help. This involves an alteration of the external environment in such a way that pigeons will find it unattractive. Remove any possible site for nesting or roosting. Also, do not feed pigeons in the garden and avoid leaving any food sources. Cover all trash bins so that they will not scavenge on the garbage.
- Live trapping is a humane solution to eliminate pigeons in the garden. This necessitates the need to use a cage with a one-way door. To be more effective, use baits like corn or wheat. Once a pigeon gets inside, the door will close and the bird will not be able to escape. Take it somewhere far from home or in an open area and release the pigeon.
- Scaring pigeon may seem like a funny idea, but it works. You can buy hawk silhouettes and install them in the roosting areas of pigeons. Using reflective objects, such as an old CD, will also help to scare the pigeons.
- Using porcupine wires is also effective in keeping the pigeons away from your garden or plantation. Premium Nixalite is one of the best that you can find in the market. They are made from stainless wire prongs, which will cause temporary discomfort for pigeons.
- The use of nets will also be a good way to exclude pigeons and to keep them away from plants. This will prevent the birds from getting anywhere near and from feeding on the fruits or leaves. Nets are good because even if they offer a protective barrier, they will let light and air pass through, which are important for the healthy growth of plants.
Although it may seem inhumane, a lot of people opt for chemical controls to eliminate pigeons. It may be effective, but you need to be careful because they can be toxic even for humans and your pets. In some cases, professional application is necessary. Also, there are places wherein the government have rules barring the use of certain toxicants. Be sure to check with your local laws to know which chemicals are best.
When it comes to contact poison, Rid-A-Bird is one of the most common products, which contains fenthion as the main active ingredient. There are also baits that contain toxic chemicals to kill pigeons before they can wreak havoc. There are also chemical frightening agents that can be effective, such as Avitrol.