Health risks from pigeons

Do pigeons and other pest birds really represent a significant health threat for people?  The simple answer is yes, and no.

Zoonotic disease

Pigeons have, in fact, been positively identified with a long list of zoonotic (transmissible to man) diseases. This includes illnesses associated with bacteria, viruses, endo and ectoparasites, fungi and protozoa. Many of these diseases can lead to debilitating and life threatening ailments. The World Health Organization (“WHO”) in their publication “Public Health Significance of Urban Pests (2008)” dedicated a chapter to Birds (p239-287). In the introduction, the author provides a preview of bird transmitted diseases,

  • Some arboviruses (the agent of diseases such as St. Louis encephalitis virus and West Nile virus);
  • Chlamydophila psittaci (the etiological agent of ornithosis);
  • Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (the agent of Lyme disease);
  • Campylobacter jejuni (the agent of campylobacterosis);
  • Salmonella enterica serovars Enteritidis and Typhimurium (the agents of salmonellosis);
  • Histoplasma capsulatum (the agent of histoplasmosis); and
  • Cryptococcus neoformans (the agent of cryptococcosis).

“Cases of human disease acquired directly from urban birds or from their habitats have been reported for ornithosis, histoplasmosis, salmonellosis, campylobacterosis, mycobacteriosis, cryptococcosis, and toxoplasmosis”.

How concerned should you be?

We should emphasize that the long list of diseases are most often not common occurrences, and can require a unique set of conditions for transmission. Immune compromised patients, children and the elderly are at more risk than a normal healthy person. That said, the risks should not be underestimated either and pigeons can represent the source of certain very common infections. For example, salmonella, a bacteria, represents the causative agent for one of the most common enteric infections in people. Pigeons can also harbor a range of e. coli, some of which can represent a serious health risk to people and animals.

Common sense dictates that people and employees in immediate proximity to pigeons and their feces, should minimize exposure, wash hands frequently and avoid direct contact with the birds or what they leave behind.

Pigeon control strategies

While there are many different products, there are just a handful of pigeon control strategies. The tool(s) selected is most often a function of site characteristics and management objectives.

In most cases, the strategies can be combined for the best possible outcome and solution for a given site. For example, exclusion can be combined with abatement when both strategies are required to resolve the pigeon infestation.

Since they breed so rapidly, increasing mortality alone does not have a lasting effect or provide a long-term solution for the site.

OvoControl fits in the abatement category by reducing reproduction. This strategy prevents birds from simply refilling the vacuum created from increasing mortality. The population declines naturally, though attrition, with a small remaining flock to keep others from moving in.

OvoControl quickstart guide

Got too many pigeons?  Need an abatement program?  Don’t know where to start?  OvoControl is easy — just administer pigeon kibbles once a day and watch the population decline.

OvoControl, “birth control for birds“, is a ready-to-use bait that interferes with the reproduction of treated birds, causing the population to decline through attrition. This effective and humane technology is especially useful for managing pigeon flocks in larger areas without having to resort to poisons and their associated risks.

The basic steps required for planning an OvoControl program include the following,

  • Estimate how many pigeons you have to get an idea of how much bait you will need to get started. With a larger number of pigeons, please use the convenient spreadsheet to estimate monthly requirements.
  • Based on pigeon numbers, decide how many Automatic Feeder Kits the site will require. Each feeder accommodates approximately 150 pigeons and works best on a flat, elevated surface.
  • Begin “conditioning” the pigeons with pre-bait, cracked corn, dispensed daily at a rate of 1lb/80 birds/day. Once the birds are conditioned and arrive predictably at the feeder each morning, transition from cracked corn to OvoControl.
  • Monitor flock size and adjust the application rate periodically to accommodate the birds.
  • See the EPA approved label and OvoControl Users Guide for further information. The website also includes a comprehensive set of Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ’s)

Visit the OvoControl webpage for additional information and purchasing details.