Pigeons

Pigeons

Appearance
The British Pigeon is about 33 cm in length and weighs between 280 and 560 grams.  Its plumage can vary considerably, from a close resemblance to that of the original rock dove (with blue grey plumage, double black wing bars and a white rump).  There are no visible differences between the sexes.

Life Cycle
Some Pigeons are capable of breeding through out the year, so nests can be found in any month.  The peak does appear between March and July though.  Usually two eggs are laid on consecutive days.  Incubation lasts about 18 days with fledging taking place about four weeks later.  A new clutch can be laid when the first young are 20 days old.  Up to nine broods may be produced per year.

Diet
Feral Pigeons normally feed in flocks and for most of the year rely on spillage at food premises or on scraps such as bread, grain and cake given by the public.  In some localities birds may fly to nearby farmland to feed off seeds and stubble.

Where to look for a nest
Pigeons build their nests in or on buildings and other structures.  They are usually found on ledges or in hollows, or even along the eves.  Grass, twigs, feathers or any other scraps, such as plastic and wire may be used in the construction of nests.  The nests are of flimsy build but when used for successive breeding they become more defined.

Damaged caused by Pigeons
Much of the damage caused by the pigeons arises from their infestation of buildings.  Food stored in warehouses and processing plants may be eaten and contaminated and the machinery fouled.

Fouling of buildings and monuments frequently occur at places where the birds rest or roost.  This is not only unsightly but may also have a destructive effect as the acidic droppings can erode the surface of stonework.  Gutters and drainpipes may become blocked, leading to flooding and associated problems.  Pavements, fire escapes and ladders may be made unsafe because of the potential for slipping on the droppings.

Diseases
Pigeons must also be regarded as potential transmitters of disease.  It is also known that a high proportion of pigeons are infected with ornithosis (a mild form of psittacosis).  Some have been known to carry salmonellosis and although the chances are low, the public health hazard cannot be ignored.

Salmonellosis
Another disease of particular significance in this country is salmonellosis caused by bacteria of the salmonella group.  It ranks as one of the most wide spread animal-borne diseases.  Infection in humans commonly occurs from the contamination of food and drink with rodent excreta, or as a result of passive transmission of the bacteria by rodents.  Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning and symptoms can include acute gastro-enteritis accompanied by headache, fever and vomiting.