Pigeons

Why are there so many of them?

Feral pigeons are descended from wild rock doves and their populations have increased, especially in urban areas, in recent years.

Feral pigeons often form large flocks that roost on buildings, ledges and under bridges.

Food is the most important factor for pigeon numbers. The best long term solution to pigeon problems is to restrict it.

What do pigeons eat?

A pigeon's preferred diet is grain and seed. They will scavenge food, take food from bird tables and eat household scraps and discarded takeaway foods.

Do not feed pigeons in public places. It is littering and encourages pigeons and rats.

Feeding pigeons is not against the law but it is not needed. If feeding is reduced, pigeon numbers will fall naturally and the birds will be healthier. 

Do pigeons do any harm?

Damage - pigeon droppings are unsightly but also acidic. In large amounts it can cause damage to buildings and machinery. Nesting material, droppings and feathers can also block gutters and air vents.

Public health - pigeons can carry diseases, some of which may be passed to people. They are a risk around kitchens and food businesses. They also carry mites which can cause skin disease and dust from their feathers can cause breathing problems in small spaces.

Accidents - pigeon droppings and food left down for pigeons can cause paths and fire escapes on buildings to become slippery and dangerous. Startled flocks can take flight suddenly, causing hazards to drivers and pedestrians.

Other birds - large numbers of pigeons can force smaller birds away from feeding areas. The pigeons also spread disease to other birds, reducing their numbers.

How do I get rid of them?

The council has no policy to control or cull birds in the area.

Reducing the number of birds by culling will only have a short-term effect.

Cutting the amount of food available to pigeons is the best long-term way to reduce numbers.

Numbers can also be cut by restricting roosting and nesting spaces. Replacing broken roof tiles and closing open/broken windows will stop pigeons gaining access to buildings. Specialist contractors use fine mist nets and small spikes placed on windows to stop pigeons roosting on buildings.

The council does not provide this service or any financial assistance to carry out the work.

What the law says about pigeons

Most birds and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Act allows for the control of certain birds, including feral pigeons, by specialists.

The use of spring traps, poisons, certain types of nets, gassing and sticky substances are illegal. Approved methods include trapping or drugging followed by humane destruction and shooting.

It is an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 to intentionally kill a racing pigeon.