Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica) - Wiki
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[Photo] Feral Rock Pigeons (Columba livia domestica) commonly show a very wide range of plumage variation compared to the wild type Rock Pigeon. Pigeons with feathers fluffed to keep warm during winter. Photograph ?? Andrew Dunn, 3 December 2004. Website: http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/
Feral pigeons, also called city doves, city pigeons or street pigeons, are derived from escaped domestic pigeons. The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the Rock Pigeon, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains. All three types readily interbreed. Feral pigeons find the ledges of buildings a perfect substitute for sea cliffs, and have become abundant in towns and cities all over the world.
Cities famous for pigeons
Many city squares are famous for their large pigeon populations, including:
Pla??a Catalunya ??? Barcelona
Kabootar Khana ??? Mumbai
Trafalgar Square ??? London
Dam Square ??? Amsterdam
Martin Place ??? Sydney
Piazza San Marco ??? Venice
Piazza Duomo ??? Milan
Egyptian Bazaar ??? Istanbul
Rynek Gł??wny ??? Krak??w
Richard J. Daley Center ??? Chicago
Piccadilly Gardens ??? Manchester
Ba????ar??ija - Sarajevo
For many years, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square were considered a tourist attraction, with street vendors selling packets of seeds for visitors to feed the pigeons. The feeding of the Trafalgar Square pigeons was controversially banned in 2003 by London mayor Ken Livingstone. However, activist groups such as Save the Trafalgar Square Pigeons flouted the ban, feeding the pigeons from a small part of the square that is under the control of Westminster City Council, not the mayor. The organisation has since come to an agreement to feed the pigeons only once a day, at 7.30am.
Feral pigeons are subject to pest control
Feral pigeons are often considered a pest or even vermin, owing to concerns that they spread disease (perhaps unfounded, see 1), damage property, cause pollution with their excrement, and drive out other bird species. Some also consider pigeons an invasive species.
Although pest exterminators using poison, a hawk or nets have been employed at ground level to control urban pigeon populations, the effect is limited and very short term.
Long term reduction of feral pigeon populations can be achieved by restricting food supply, which in turn will involve legislation and litter (garbage) control. Some cities have deliberately established favourable nesting places for pigeons ??? nesting places that can easily be reached by city workers who regularly remove eggs, thereby limiting their reproductive success.
Breeding of feral pigeons
Breeding and food
Pigeons breed when the food supply is good???for wild rock doves this might be seasonally so they usually breed once a year. In the urban environment, because of their year-round food supply, feral pigeons will breed continuously, laying eggs up to six times a year.
Feral pigeons can be seen eating grass seeds and berries in urban parks and gardens in the spring, but there are plentiful sources throughout the year from scavenging (e.g. dropped fast-food cartons). Further food is also usually available from the disposing of stale bread in parks by restaurants and supermarkets, from tourists buying and distributing birdseed, etc. Pigeons tend to congregate in large, often thick flocks when going for discarded food, and many have been observed flying skilfully around trees, buildings, telephone poles and cables, and even moving traffic just to reach it.
As a result of the continuous food supply, pigeon courtship rituals can be observed in urban parks at any time of the year. Males on the ground initially puff up feathers at the nape of the neck to increase their apparent size and thereby impress or attract attention, then they single out a female in the vicinity and approach at a rapid walk, often bowing as they approach. Females invariably initially walk away or fly short distances, the males follow them at each stage. Persistence by the male will usually eventually cause the female to tolerate his proximity, at which point he will continue the bowing motion and very often turn full- or half-pirouettes in front of the female. Subsequent mating when observed is very brief with the male flapping his wings to maintain balance on the female. Sometimes the male and female beaks are locked together.
Nests are rudimentary as for the wild doves and pigeons. Favourite nesting areas are in damaged property. Mass nesting is common with dozens of birds sharing a building. Loose tiles and broken windows give pigeons access; they are remarkably good at spotting when new access points become available, for example after strong winds cause property damage. Nests and droppings will quickly make a mess of any nesting area. Pigeons are particularly fond of roof spaces containing water tanks, though they frequently seem to fall into the tanks and drown. Any water tank or cistern in a roof space needs to have a secure lid for this reason. The popularity of a nesting area seems little affected if pigeons die or are killed there; corpses are seen among live birds, who seem unconcerned.
On undamaged property the gutters, window air conditioners, chimney pots and external ledges will be used as nesting sites. Many building owners attempt to limit roosting by using bird control spikes and netting to cover ledges and resting places on the fa??ades of buildings. These probably have little effect on the size of pigeon populations, but can help to reduce the accumulation of droppings on and around an individual building.
Only the larger and more wary Wood Pigeon (which often shares the same territory and food supply) will build a tree nest; for some reason it prefers trees close to roads.
Wendell Levi in his book The Pigeon describes the crowing (cooing) in pigeons as mostly being associated with strutting and fighting in cock (male) birds. Hens (females) will coo, but this is noticeably less gutteral than the cock birds. Cooing is also more frequent at mating and nesting time between pairs. Both parents share the incubation of thier eggs.
In the last few decades, people have begun to poison feral pigeons when their numbers become too large. This has proven to be fairly ineffective, however, as pigeons can breed very quickly (up to six times a year) and their numbers are determined by how much food is available; that is, they breed more often when more food is provided to them. When pigeons are poisoned, surviving birds do not leave the area. On the contrary, they are left with more food per bird than before. This attracts pigeons from outside areas as well as encouraging more breeding, and populations are re-established quickly.
Peregrine Falcons which are also originally cliff dwellers have also adapted to the big cities, living on the window ledges of skyscrapers and often feeding exclusively on Rock Pigeons. Some cities actively encourage this through falcon breeding programs.
Reducing food supply
A more effective tactic to reduce the number of feral pigeons is deprivation. Cities around the world have discovered that not feeding their local birds results in a safe population decrease in only a few years. Pigeons, however, will still pick at garbage bags containing discarded food or at leftovers carelessly dropped on the ground.
Due to the huge population in California, an experimental project will use an animal contraceptive called "OvoControl P" in Hollywood. OvoControl P intereferes with egg development, and will be put in food in feeders. The venture has the support of animal rights groups.
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