Pigeons The opinions that arise when talking about these animals are totally contrary: while some see potential transmitters of diseases of various kinds in them, others describe them as war heroes and symbols of peace.
Pigeons (“Columba livia”) are birds that belong to the group of columbiforms and that have spread over different parts of the globe over the years. With a robust body and short legs, it is common to find some of them flying over the squares and roaming freely in the gardens.
Although they coexist with people today, their origin dates back many years ago. Inhabitants of cliffs and rocky areas, the man introduced them to cities to use them as food and make use of them in other fields ranging from messaging to sports. But the love of pigeons was lost over time and the lofts became a burden. The solution? Many opted for the opening of these structures and the streets were flooded with them.
Today, these animals –which find shelter and food in hollows of buildings, cornices, interior patios and various architectural elements– have become a long urban struggle that keeps all those who refuse to live with them on their feet. in their properties and to those who want that if they are expelled from certain areas, they proceed in the most respectful way possible.
The footprint of pigeons in cities
Every coexistence brings consequences and that is another reason for discussion that revolves around these birds. According to David Rubio, Commercial Director of Ibertrac, a company specialized in pest control, the most notable effects of the presence of pigeons in our cities are the problems they can cause to people’s health and the damage they cause to the surfaces of the buildings.
“His excrement is very corrosive and damages the surfaces on which it falls. Apart from this, it can also cause a health problem because a fungus called histoplasma grows in the feces of this animal, which can cause, among many other things, a lung disease that is known as histoplasmosis, “he explains. A very significant case for him is that of the Barcelona tourist guide who got a permanent discharge due to a subject of pulmonary alveolitis caused by an exposure to the droppings of the characteristic pigeons of Plaza Cataluña.
José Antonio Arizmendi, sole administrator and technical manager of American Pest Control, experts in pest control, also agrees on this point. The specialist highlights that one of the main problems that these animals generate for us is the dirt produced by their corrosive excrement in historical monuments. “In addition to feces there are germs and microbes that make them highly contaminating and harmful to humans and their pets. They also transport other insects such as fleas, ticks and bedbugs, and can cause serious health problems, “he adds.
Bárbara Fernández Andújar, president of Mis Amigas las Palomas (MALP), an association dedicated to the rescue and defense of birds , especially columbiforms such as pigeons and turtledoves, does not share the point of view of these two specialists.
“There are no cases of zoonosis – an animal disease that can incidentally be communicated to people – by pigeons,” he says. “ The real risk is negligible and the same as that of any native bird. The annual reports of the Ministry of Health do not report data on incidents in this regard. That an animal can suffer diseases, like all living beings, does not imply its transmission. The probability of contagion between bird and mammal is much less than between mammals, such as cats or dogs in the home.
Representing the organization, he points out that defamation in order to spread the “false myth” about their transmission of diseases and increased risk perceived by citizens is motivated by the profit that pest control companies receive in this way.
Avoid nesting in squares and gardens
“It is very difficult to prevent them from appearing in gardens and squares, since they are open spaces, their control is not easy. In these cases, the use of capture cages is recommended and, if the space is large, combine them with the flight of birds of prey ”, explains Arizmendi.
Rubio is clear in this regard: a single performance is not enough. “We must combine three interventions, which are to limit their habitat, restrict their food, prohibiting people from feeding these birds, and make selective catches.
“That yes, we are against the use of sterilizers because, despite the theory is very nice, in the end you are putting a drug on the street that does not have an authorization in Spain yet, but the municipalities are allowing it with special permits ”, he points out. Among the problems of using this product, it stands out that when it falls on public roads, there may be children who touch it, people who take it to their homes and other birds that also eat it.
“Urbanites have to understand that urban fauna is a treasure with which we have to cohabit and that enriches our cities,” says Fernández. For the president of the association, this is a duty and the respect of the same goes through an adequate education and to make respect the different laws of animal protection.
In the case of those who do not want to live with the pigeons in their private home, it recommends the use of dissuasive methods . Among these, you can use those with sounds, electricity and the figure of birds of prey, or opt for the installation of perches such as those with bird spikes. Another solution is the proper maintenance of urban planning to avoid the installation of unwanted nests.
Options to achieve your march
What happens if the pigeon has already established itself on the property and is visible in the usual way? What if the number of these birds is significant? “Once the plague has occurred, its control will depend on its magnitude and its location. It is not the same to control a community of owners, where nets and spikes are mainly used, in open spaces such as a plaza or a soccer field, where the The solution is to use capture cages, lofts and the flight of birds of prey, “says Arizmendi.
Among the home remedies listed by the expert are the placement of CDs, things that move or shine, small propellers, plastic owls and devices that emit different types of sounds from squawking to ultrasound. But he warns that “they stop working as soon as the animal gets used to all of them.”
From Ibertrac they advise to see where the pigeons perch and discover why they go there: if they come just to look, if they have nested, if they go for food. Once the reason is found, more active or less active measures have to be taken . “If the bird perches on the railing just to look, well you’re going to bother it a little and after days it is possible that the animal leaves it,” says Rubio. “But if what you have done is a nest on a balcony, you will have to clean the area well, remove the nest from its location and make an enclosure so that they do not do it again.”
Exclusion nets, rods that prevent them from perching and the urban version of the electric shepherd with very little voltage, are some of the systems used by the company and adapted according to the characteristics of each building.
From MALP they advocate methods that they consider more appropriate such as the installation of ecological lofts , which control the population of these animals, and the taking of urban planning measures on unwanted nesting on roofs and the like