The only native pigeon to North America is the Band-tailed Pigeon. The city pigeon, known by some as the Rock Dove, was brought over by European settlers in the early sixteen hundreds. Escaped or released pigeons established themselves in settlements and towns around humans because of the abundant food supply. They can now be found in most areas of North America, and throughout the world, except in the forests and mountains Pigeons build a rather flimsy nest of twigs on a ledge or recessed area, and lay one or two eggs. They hatch after eighteen days. Nestlings are fed a regurgitated liquid known as pigeon's milk, by both parents. The young pigeons leave the nest in four to six weeks. Pigeons feed primarily on seed, grain, garbage, greens and insects. They can live up to fifteen years, but because of disease; poisonings, and accidents, life expectancy in the cities is three to four years.
Note the differences between a Band-tailed Pigeon (left) and a Rock Dove (right).
Coloration differences, like the yellow feet of the Band-tailed Pigeon vs the Rock Dove's pink feet, are what helps distinguish between the two birds.
Preventing a problem
If you have pigeons in your neighborhood make sure there is no access to your attic. This will also keep out other unwanted visitors.
If pigeons are investigating a recessed area under your eaves, apply scare tactics or screening immediately, before they decide to stay and nest.
Do not feed them, allow them to forage naturally. Their population will remain more stable if they are not overfed. Enjoy watching pigeons without encouraging a problem by becoming a provider.
Solving a problem
How do I deal with pigeons on my roof?
Life-like statues of owls are available through garden supply catalogs. They should be mounted on a stick so they move slightly in the breeze. The owls should be moved periodically so the pigeons won't become accustomed to them. Balloons, shiny strips of foil or plastic tied on posts or a line can be an effective scaring device. These may be removed after the pigeons have settled some where else.
What do I do with pigeons that are nesting in my attic?
Screen the entry point to eves and attics so the birds do not have access. You can use a clear plastic bird netting available at garden supply stores. Galvanized hardware cloth or aviary wire may also be used. Be sure all birds are out before screening the area.
How do I prevent nesting on ledges of my building?
Altering the angle of the flat surface will keep them off. This can be done with sheeting, concrete or wood installed at a 45-60 degree angle. String mono-filament line above the surface where the pigeons land. It can be attached with eyelet screws. The line should be taut, so it will not collapse under the weight of the bird when it attempts to land.
Slinky toys purchased at a toy store work well for altering ledges. Attach the Slinky at one end and stretch it along the ledge, being careful not to open it all the way. The objective is to make it uncomfortable for the pigeons to land.
Hang wind chimes that move and make noise.