Many cities and towns across the UK are facing the same problem: pigeons. The presence of pigeons in inner-city environments is nothing new, but the financial implications of the influx of these winged pests are becoming more and more shocking.
Major cities are concerned with the cost of the damage caused by pigeons. Liverpool Council claimed that they were spending an equivalent of 88 man-hours a day cleaning pigeon droppings from streets and buildings, at a cost of £160,000 a year.
There are a number of problems caused by growing pigeon populations in urban areas. Pigeon droppings are perhaps the most serious result of increasing pigeon populations, which not only make the streets and buildings look dirty and unsightly, but damage them too. The acidic quality of pigeon droppings can damage stone and brickwork, which is costly to repair and, in the cases of older architecture and listed buildings, impossible to replace like-for-like
Pigeons are now finding humans less of a threat and so have no problem flying up to pedestrians and trying to take food from them. This has a wider impact on the leisure and tourism industries, which many places thrive off. Many cities are trying to adopt a European style café culture, with coffee shops seating areas spilling out onto the streets and squares, but this can be a turn off for consumers who don’t want to be pestered by pigeons whilst enjoying their lunch. In turn, this café culture revival is also part of the problem, with the potential to generate more litter and waste on the streets, which will attract pests such as pigeons.
There is a number of solutions being tested to deter pigeons from towns and cities, including the installation of Robots (Robotic Birds of Prey) in Liverpool. These robots imitate peregrine falcons, flapping their mechanical wings and making noises to discourage pigeon roosting. The success rate hasn’t been as high as the council would have hoped, however, they have reduced the number of pest pigeons which has saved money overall. Besides that, there are several birds and mouse exterminator experts out there that can help people get rid of this problem with the use of chemical and other equipment.
The Royal Derby Hospital has been relying on live birds of prey to keep pigeons from congregating around the building. The hospital said that up to 1,000 pigeons had settled at their new site, making a mess on the outside of the buildings and around patient entrances. A harris hawk and a pere saker falcon are being released at the site twice a week over a six-month period. The birds of prey will not harm the pigeons but will deter them from roosting at the location
Meanwhile, in Middlesbrough, the ultraviolet gel is being used by pest controllers to deter pigeons from statues and buildings in the city center. Whilst the UV substance is invisible to the human eye, to the pigeons it has a flame-like appearance, foul taste, and bad odor. The substance is being applied to ledges and other roosting areas as an alternative to traditional spikes or netting that can hinder the aesthetics of a building.
Many councils have no policy to control or cull pigeons, so in many ways it is up to the community to provide pest control to pigeons and other pests by changing habits and behaviors. This includes the proper disposal of litter and refraining from feeding and therefore encouraging the pests.