pigeon control

Are Feral Pigeons Really Pests?

Feral pigeons first got their dirty nickname "flying rats" in a 966 The New York Times article. In 1980, the famous Stardust Memories film re-iterated this nickname and from then on, feral pigeons became known as such. However, many people still believe that feral pigeons are not pests but rather, they are urban heroes that bring a touch of nature in highly urbanized cities. Despite the association of feral pigeons to grey squirrels and rats, some people are still smitten by these birds.

Origins of City Birds

The ancestors of feral pigeons are called Columba livia or wild rock pigeons. About 6000 years ago, some noblemen on the Middle East started to domesticate rock pigeons. Pigeons have contributed a lot to the overall wellbeing of humans since then. Pigeons, along with rabbit warren, carp pond and dovecote became one of the primary source of meat in Europe. Pigeons can mate anytime of the year, so their population is not threatened even after being hunted for meat for the entire year. Pigeons also helped us in other ways apart from providing meat to us. Their faeces are known to be 10 times more loaded with nutrients that can be used as an effective fertilizer. Many farmers kept pigeons just for their faeces. Pigeons became extremely useful in the agriculture industry that some countries even founded their agricultural development on pigeons.

It is quite difficult to imagine how rare pigeon specie such as a rock pigeon can become the ancestor of the now overpopulated feral pigeons that we have in the cities. However, it would be easier to picture this out if we factor in the fact that pigeons are really excellent breeders. They are not picky with their nest too. They are comfortable even on a clay pot or a row of ledges. Farmers who take care of pigeons for their meat and their guano do not even worry about having to feed these birds a lot. It is the nature of pigeons to fly around and look for a place to forage. A pigeon can also give birth to about 10 baby pigeons or squabs each year. Thus, people can actually hunt down pigeons for their meet without having to worry about their population.

The Slow Decline

However, after some time farmers have figured out that chicken are far more profitable to rise because they can lay hundreds of eggs in a year and they can be mass produced through various feeds and supplements. Pigeons also found their new use: as targets in shooting games. Thus, although pigeons provide an excellent source of protein, many people still do not like eating them over chickens. Pigeons also become laboratory test subject. Scientist were able artificially produce the hormone that induces milk production in female mammals.

Another Use for Pigeons in the Past: Pigeon Post

Apart from their relatively recent nickname "flying rats", feral pigeons are also known as "city doves". They are also made to carry and deliver post from two communication parties. Some 3000 years ago, people began to exploit pigeons for this purpose. Pigeons in Syria and Persia also make use of pigeons in the same way. Sometime in 1850, a man named Paul Julius Reuters used pigeons to deliver news from Aachen to Brussels. After many years and thanks to the help that pigeons gave him, Mr Reuters now owns one of the largest news channels in the world.

Pigeons were also used by the American Signal Pigeon Corps sometime in 1940 to send messages to their fellow soldiers trapped in the world war. About 90% of all the messages sent via pigeon post penetrated enemy lines. The American Signal Pigeon Corps comprised of 54000 pigeons and 3150 soldiers, from which 54 soldiers obtained Dickin Medals while 32 pigeons survived the World War.

The Power of the Pigeons

Homing pigeons are still used to deliver courier today. There are remote places where the means for communication are still very limited. It was only in 2002 when the Police Pigeon Service in Orissa finally hit the sack. However, in 2009, a pigeon was used by an internet service provider to advertise their company. In the commercial, the pigeon is made to carry in its beak a 4GB storage memory card. Nonetheless, until now experts still can't explain why pigeons can find their way home no matter how busy they are the entire day. One common consensus is that maybe their flight is affected by the electromagnetic field around the Earth.

Pest Treatment

Despite the many help that feral pigeons have extended to the human civilization, it is still too difficult to take away the fact that pigeons in the city are not causing more harm than good. The faecal materials excreted by the pigeons are no longer useful in cities which have been fortified by cement. Instead of being a good help, their droppings are causing certain areas in the city to stink. The droppings also corrode the building in the city and at the same time, harbour microorganisms which can cause airborne diseases. Because of the fact that our dependence to pigeons is now slowly fading away, more and more people are inclined to look at them s pests.

Tourist Attraction in City Parks

For some reason, even though a lot of people consider feral pigeons as pests, many people still enjoy the scene of interacting with one of the thousands of pigeons that land in city park. People feed these birds; some people even build pigeon nests which they attach to the trees surrounding the park. Well, even though they have been labelled by "flying rats", pigeons are still very beautiful birds. The picture of a park full of beautiful birds is intriguing enough for tourists to come and visit the pigeon-infested government buildings and properties. It is really difficult to reconcile whether pigeons are pests or city heroes. As of now, the most that we can do is to wait and see what will become of the feral pigeons that live in the cities.
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