Pigeons – Pals or Pests
The wild Rock Pigeon – or, Rock Dove – was domesticated about 3,000 B.C., according to Egyptian hieroglyphics. But, earlier evidence suggests that domestication actually began as early as 8,000 B.C. – due to cuneiform writings found on Mesopotamian tablets.
Offshoots of the Rock Pigeons include domestic pigeons from which came homing pigeons – carrier pigeons famous for their importance as messengers in times of war. In fact, there were a number of homing pigeons that received medals for saving human lives.
Many domestic pigeons were either released – or escaped to freedom – and became feral pigeons.
Being prolific breeders, pigeons can hatch an average of 16 to 20 eggs a year – and the hatchlings reach sexual maturity in 6 to 7 months. The maximum lifespan for wild pigeons is 5 years – and domesticated pigeons can live up to 15 years. Do the math – with enough food around, and few predators to weed them out, their populations can grow exponentially!
Because of their ability to breed year round, the world pigeon population has increased to over 400 million – or about 1 pigeon for every 18 human beings on earth. New York City is home to over 1 million of them and London, England, has a wood pigeon population not far behind NYC.
Pigeons will eat any seeds, buds, or leaves they can get their beaks into – and, they very much prefer invading tasty veggie plants in the plots of home gardeners. They peck at the leaves of brassica plants – cabbages, broccoli, etc. – and they also love peas. If you have a cherry tree, guard it closely because pigeons will decimate it, as well as any bushes bearing fruit.
Because of their unapologetic appetites, they have become a nuisance pest to gardening enthusiasts around the globe.
What Can Gardeners Do About A Pigeon Problem?
Sitting on the back porch with a rifle and picking them off one by one is not a good long term solution. In many areas, pigeons are protected from hunting – and even if they’re not protected, a license is required. Or, you may be living in a populated area as most of us are and you just can’t go around firing off guns without ending up behind bars.
Besides – knocking off a couple of pigeons here and there won’t deter others from moving in and taking their place.
Remember those slinky toys? Tape slinky toys to the top of your garden fence to discourage them from perching on the fence and checking out what your garden has to offer them. For some reason, they find landing on slinky toys to be very, very uncomfortable.
Add a couple of Orbit Motion Activated Sprinklers to the garden. These gems have detection modes for both day and night and they will scare away birds and ground critters that may invade your garden space.
Shut Them Out
Put some bird netting over those special plants that are most likely to be loved and adored by the pigeons. It will drive them crazy trying to get to the luscious leaves and buds – but, to no avail.
Stink Them Out
There are several odors that pigeons just cannot tolerate! Among them are red pepper and cinnamon. Sprinkle some of these spices liberally next to, but not on, rows of plants that these bird pests are attacking and it will keep them away – until it rains and washes away the seasonings. Then, of course, reapplication will be necessary.
Scare The Crap Out Of Them
Pretend it’s the Fourth of July and throw some firecrackers at them. If you don’t get evil-eyed by the neighbors for all the noise, maybe you can convince the pigeons to find a quieter area to live in.
Use Scare Tape
Try some Bird Deterrent Ribbon Repellent Scare Reflective Tape. This is a NON-adhesive ribbon that is hung in strips on a fence or trellis – or, it can lay flat along any row of veggies.
Try Scare Rods
These Bird Blinder Repellent Wind Twisting Scare Rods are spiraled – so they spin in the wind – creating reflections that scare birds away.
Fake Owl Decoy
The Fake Owl Decoy for Gardens is a solar-powered, predator owl decoy that employs flashing eyes and a loud screech every time its motion sensor is activated. There is an off button for the sound so you don’t wake up the neighbors in the middle of the night. This fake owl shows visible scary signs to the unwanted pests anytime they show up and they won’t easily get used to it.
You could buy a much cheaper decoy that just sits there and does nothing but, it won’t take long for the pigeons to become accustomed to the fact that the cheap one doesn’t do anything and they will become best buddies with it.
Banish Them Using Predators
Falcons, hawks, and owls all love to munch on pigeons, crows, rabbits, squirrels, and field mice – and, the pigeons are well aware of that fact! Encourage the predator birds to live in your backyard. Owls are the easiest to attract. Put up a Screech Owl House, or two, close to the garden and, soon they will reward you by eliminating your garden of both flying and walking pests that you want to do away with!
If you like to build things, try building your own owl house. This video will give you some basic how-to instructions…
The Talking Pigeon
Last week, I did some shopping at a local mall and I came across a pet store with a sign in the window, “Talking Pigeon.”
I have never before heard a pigeon actually talk so, I went into the store. Looking around, I saw one lonely pigeon sitting on his perch in the back of the storeroom. I walked up to him and asked, “Are you really a talking pigeon?”
He replied, “Yes sir, I most certainly can talk!”
The pigeon continued on – talking about how he could speak 14 different languages – had worked with every secret organization imaginable, including the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, and a some others that he couldn’t discuss.
He said he had been released into very strategic places in North Korea, Russia, China, and numerous other places he couldn’t talk about. He was also fitted with a special camera so he could take pictures of sensitive, tactical areas. And, he just magically learned to speak languages after flying over each county he had visited.
The pigeon said that he once was assigned to perch on the windowsill of the Oval Office of the White House where he saw Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky together in a compromising position – “in flagrante delicto” – on more than one occasion! He took pictures of that, too, which were instrumental in President Clinton’s impeachment hearings!
This pigeon just wouldn’t stop talking! He went on…and on…and on…indefinitely.
I was so impressed that I ran over to the store owner and asked how much he wanted for his talking pigeon – and, he said, “Ten Dollars!”
I couldn’t believe it! Only Ten Dollars? I asked the owner, “Why would you want to sell such a talented pigeon for such a low price?
The owner replied, “Because that darn bird is a chronic liar! And, also, he is not a very good photographer!”
My guess is that the bird was also probably a “stool pigeon!”
Comments, suggestions, and stories are welcomed below – or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim, the Lifelong Gardener