Effective city pigeon management

Traditional pest control companies like spreading persistent myths that help keep them in business. Thankfully, humane wildlife deterrence practices – which are much more effective – are slowly gaining traction. Take pigeons.

They’re highly intelligent animals which we took from their native habitats in foreign countries – sea cliffs – and introduced all over the world. I didn’t know that until nearly two years ago. When it comes to pigeons, there seem to be three groups of people: People who hate them, people who love them and people who are indifferent to them.

I used to be in that third category. In the past, I hardly paid any attention to the critters.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch this documentary:

Deterring pigeons the traditional way is expensive. That’s partly because it works against the intelligence of the animals instead of working with it. Birds have been on the planet much longer than humans – since 150 million years ago, roughly, whereas our oldest ancestors such as Orrorin tugenensis appeared only around 6 million years ago. So birds have built up a vast collective knowledge that we still lack.

Several cities, including Paris and Nottingham, successfully work with pigeons instead of against them. It results in healthier birds and makes – if you want that – controlling pigeon populations much easier (through the use of dummy eggs).

In city parks and on the rooftops of flat buildings, you can provide pigeon roosting, nesting and feeding structures – modern dovecotes – that are so attractive to pigeons – the former rock doves – that they’ll select them over the inferior spots where we humans usually don’t want pigeons.

Such structures can be made from recycled plastic, which is maintenance-free, non-toxic and available in many shapes and colours. You can use them educational facilities for the public too, connect them with their surroundings in a positive and meaningful way that can be highly inspirational.

It makes sense. Would you rather live in a shack that exposes you to the elements from almost all sides or in a nice cosy environment that feels like home?

PS
I’d be very happy to assist any party (city council, park owner, owner of large building with flat roof) who wishes to apply this.

Natural friends

Yesterday evening, I saw up to four foxes within a short period of time. I saw one, a gorgeous one with a very fluffy tail and an equally fluffy face, very close to my home. I’d heard a fox call out repeatedly, before I went out. Maybe it was that one.

A little bit later, I saw two or three scrawnier-looking types a few hundred yards away from my home. They’d been up to something and I don’t rule out that they’d caught a bird and were fighting over it. There was a lot of rustling and some squeaking going on, but when I walked up to enquire, the foxes ran off, abandoning whatever they’d been up to.

Last year, I saw up to six foxes one evening, but that was much later in the evening, and I had purposefully gone out to look for foxes that day. While I was standing in the dark and couldn’t actually see the fox, one very close to me warned either me or, more likely, another fox to stay off its turf, by the sound of it. That felt awesome, to be that close, to have a fox call out right next to you. It was that time of the year when the young ones are establishing their territories.

I have seen a fox scale a 2-m-high wall as if it wasn’t there and I’ve also seen one flatten itself and slip under a gate, through a very narrow space.

If you happen to be living in the territory of foxes, and need some help with that, then it is useful to know that if you kill a fox, you usually merely enable another fox to move in. Traditional pest controllers and exterminators tend to want to kill animals, unfortunately. It is much more effective to work with specialists who understand animals and get them to cooperate.

What do they want, foxes? Essentially the same things you want. So it is often possible to entice them to go somewhere else. A good book about this is “Wild Neighbors: The Humane Approach to Living with Wildlife” by John Hadidian and others. (I am lucky enough to have it.)