Key Features of Pigeons
The feral pigeon is descended from the rock dove and is well adapted to life in an urban environment. The dependence of the feral pigeon on man for food has led to it becoming a serious pest.
These pest birds are about 33cm long and weigh on average 330g. There is a wide variation in the colour of the plumage.
Both old and modern buildings contain a large number of ledges, girders and gaps which can be used by feral pigeons as nesting sites. Large numbers of nests are often found inside lofts of houses and commercial premises.
If conditions are favourable the birds will breed throughout the year, but the main breeding period is from March to July. Two white eggs are laid and are incubated by both sexes for 17-19 days. Young birds are independent at 30-37 days and 4-7 broods may be reared in a year.
Many pigeons in town centres are regularly fed by members of the public. They feed in flocks and tend to rely on food scraps and spillage in town centres and at food premises. Each feral pigeon eats about 80g per day.
Each flock of feral pigeons occupies a distinct territory which includes feeding, roosting, perching and nesting sites. The flock is usually in balance with the availability of food and breeding sites within the territory.
Within a flock there is a distinct order. The dominant birds feed first. Lower ranking birds are under more pressure to find alternative food and harbourage. When dominant birds are removed, competition is reduced and the vacuum created makes the area more attractive to lower ranking birds from adjacent flocks where competition is more intense.
There are several methods available for controlling feral pigeon populations and preventing problem flocks. These include the installation of net prevention, point prevention or spring wire system as well as strategic population management.