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Problem Pigeons

The dawning of a new day was barely an hour old when the volley of gunfire erupted. In seconds, the two Benelli auto-loading shotguns had emptied their ammunition capacity. Ten empty shot shell hulls laid on the frosty ground. Scattered on the ground thirty yards away laid the same number of dead pigeons.

Quickly my friend and I reloaded the guns as another band of grayish forms appeared. Like those before them the birds began circling the decoys and their departed comrades. Then after a couple of passes the birds began descending earthward. This quickly increased the decoy spread by eight as gunfire shattered the silence.

In less than two hours we had loaded and emptied the shotguns numerous times. Some volleys consisted of numerous shots, while others were of a single digit. However, the morning resulted in us having fun. The local farmer was happy knowing his barn would be spared of more than thirty nasty birds that day.


The feral pigeon is generally blue-gray in color with a white rear; has iridescent feathers on the head and neck; two broad black bars across each wing and a broad band across the tail. However, some pigeons may display brown, white or solid gray plumage.

Pigeons are monogamous and a mating pair will generally produce three or four broods a year. The average number per brood is one or two. The eggs take approximately 18 days to hatch and 35 or more days before young leave the nest.

Contrary to some beliefs, pigeons are not migratory. In fact, their nature is to remain within their birthing area. This is the reason some areas become heavily populated within a short time period.

Pigeons can become very determined in personality when it comes to roosting at a particular site. This again can create large concentrations within a given site. Pigeons have a daily cycle of leaving the roost to first feed in the morning and generally loaf in the afternoon.


Did you know the pigeon or rock dove is the number one bird pest in the United States? The pigeon’s ability to adapt to almost any environment has enabled it to flourish like few creatures known to man. This rapid growth has created environmental problems almost everywhere the pigeon is found.

The pigeon is a bird that lives in communal flocks. These flocks generally feed, loaf and roost together in the company of their companions. Flocks may consist of only few to fifty or more. Individual flocks can converge creating scores of birds within a small area.

While some people may enjoy watching the pigeons in the park, others pay a price for the birds. Pigeons can cause extensive damage to property and become a health hazard to humans. Most damages caused by pigeons result from their droppings.

Pigeon droppings are very acidic in nature. These droppings can actually eat away at many substrates, especially tar-based roofing materials. Droppings allowed to accumulate can even cause damage to roofs simply by weight.

Automobile and farm equipment finishes can be damaged as the droppings can eat through protective coatings and paint.

Fires can be started by the pigeons nesting habits. Nesting materials are usually very flammable as they consist of straw, dried grass, twigs and dried droppings. Nests built near or on electrical wiring are potential hazards.

Pigeon nests can often be found in chimneys and other ventilation systems. This can be extremely dangerous due to malfunction of the system, but can also transmit diseases through the system.

To the farmer, pigeons can create havoc in barns and grain bins. Their droppings can destroy valuable grain, hay and other profitable items. Droppings and nests can disturb gutters and other building-related drainage systems. However, the transmitting of diseases such as Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, and Psittacosis should also be considered as possible pigeon problem.

Humans should also use caution when coming in contact with pigeon droppings. Always use protective measures such as gloves, boots and respirators. This is especially true when bird droppings dry and become airborne as these particles can be inhaled.


Pigeon populations can be controlled in a manner of ways. Where applicable, shooting them with shotguns can be sporting. Pigeons can be flushed from roosting sites and shot, or ambushed when returning to the roost.

Preferred feeding and loafing areas can provide excellent shooting. Hunters will find that the use of a few decoys will readily attract birds. Leaving dead birds where they lay also serves as decoying.

Pigeons may also be controlled by nest removal. This can be a time-consuming and unpleasant chore. However, removing nests will depress populations and become a deterrent to nesting birds.

Trapping pigeons is also an effective means of curbing a pigeon population. In most instances a live-trap is used. These traps can be obtained from most commercial trap companies. Experience has proven pre-baiting the trap for a day or so before actual use increases the effectiveness of the trap.

Specialized traps such as the Bird-Flite Spike trap can be easily installed on ledges, signs, chimneys and roofs. These traps are totally humane, preventing injury to the bird or human.

Repellants are another means of combating pigeon problems. Acoustical and visual repellants can be effective. Repellants such as helium-filled balloons, owl decoys and even reflective mylar tape can be effective in repelling birds. However, birds generally become accustomed to these methods after a period of time.

Pigeons will also avoid a new type repellant called Bird-Proof. Bird-Proof is a non-toxic, sticky chemical that makes a surface tacky and uncomfortable to birds. It has basically the same effects on birds that wet tar has on people. So if you are having a problem with pigeons I hope this has been of some help.

Bill Bynum is one of the first people in the eastern U.S. to become serious about predator calling. He has written extensive articles and has published a book, Predator Hunting, on the subject.

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Date Last Updated January, 2006