Pigeons: Columba livia
Pigeons are very recognisable birds – they are large at around 29-36cm in length, short legs and plump bodies. Their beak is quite short and they are re-known for their compact plumage. Colours vary with differing patterns (some quite beautiful) with varying degrees of grey.
Pigeons live where human live. In the ‘wild’ they have become reliant on humans inhabiting larger cities and ever increasingly moving into regional areas around farms. Pigeons were originally cliff dwelling birds which is why cities with edge like perches create perfect nesting sites for pigeons. They are creatures of habit and will not venture far from the area they have frequented most of their lives. The pigeon will make it’s nest generally from sticks and grass and loves window ledges, signs and any horizontal ledge. Because they roost around the same place, the bird will defecate where it sits, usually creating unsightly and unhealthy environments for humans
Aspergillosis: There are several diseases that are transmitted to humans from pigeons. The first and most common is Aspergillosis. This is a serious and life threatening fungal infection and can occur in immune deficient individuals and may affect internal organs and body systems.
Encephalitis: Another serious disease transmitted from the pigeon to humans through mosquitoes.
Pigeon ornithosis: Transmitted in the form of a virus, this only causes mild symptoms in humans.
Pigeons also harbour many ectoparasites. These include bugs similar to bed bugs, flies, ticks and mites. These mites can cause severe discomfort/irritation/allergic reactions when they enter into areas where people live and work. Where nesting and roosting is found in ceiling voids, the ectoparasites can cause severe irritation in the home or place of work.
The nests and nesting areas of pigeons are particularly unsanitary and the nest itself can contain carpet beetles, drugstore beetles, spider beetles, mealworms, dermestids and flies may all be found in birds’ nests. In some cases the nest is made from the droppings of the pigeon with stick or grass reinforcement.
Pigeons are scavengers and will just about eat anything thrown at them. Humans deliberately feeding pigeons are one of the primary reasons this pest has grown in numbers and have become reliant on humans. They will eat up to half a kilogram of food per week, frequent restaurants, cafe’s, bakeries, areas where food is disposed and residential areas where deliberate feeding of seeds and fruit occurs. The pigeon consumes dirt or grit to ensure that their food is properly digested.
When a mating pair builds the nest, they may lay several broods in a year. Usually the female will lay 1-2 eggs and wean the young very quickly from the pigeon milk produced by the female.