All Creatures Great and Small


Someone asked me if pigeons are hazardous to our health. I told her that alcohol and tobacco cause more death and grief in a single day than all the pigeons on the planet have since the beginning of time. When I look at the pigeon-infested roof of a fast-food restaurant, I can still tell myself that the pigeons on the roof are far less hazardous to human health than the cheeseburgers coming off the grill.

They are frequently called rats with wings. The term “rats with wings” came from a 1980 play, “Stardust Memories” starring Woody Allen.  Allen used the term in the movie and apparently someone with a vested interest in misleading the public decided to use it in a campaign to drum up business for pigeon control. The facts are just the opposite. Yes, there are some diseases that can be transmitted by pigeons, but no more so than any other bird, including such popular pets as parakeets, canaries, etc. Consider what some experts have said about pigeons and disease;

“…diseases associated with [pigeons] present little risk to people...” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta .

“The New York City Department of Health has no documented cases of communicable disease transmitted from pigeons to humans.” – New York City Department of Health.

“I am not aware of any reported cases of diseases that were transmitted by pigeons in Mohave County .” Mohave County Env ironmental Health Division

So much for the health problems caused by pigeons. They do have their attributes. During World War I, pigeons carried thousands of messages that saved many hundreds of lives. In World War II pigeons continued to be used. Radios were frequently not working due to damage or when unfavorable terrain rendered them almost useless. Pigeons continued to fly through enemy fire, and amazingly 95% of them completed their missions. One pigeon in particular, named “Cher Ami” was a World War I Carrier Pigeon, one of 600 birds owned and flown by the U.S. Signal Corps. Cher Ami was originally bred by the British Signal Corps. He was transferred to the Americans after the war on Oct. 27, 1918.

Cher Ami delivered 12 important messages within the American sector at Verdun , France . On his last mission, Cher Ami, shot through the breast by enemy fire, managed to return to his loft. A message capsule was found dangling from the ligaments of one of his legs that had also been shattered by enemy fire. The message he carried was from Major Whittlesey’s “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Infantry Division that had been isolated from other American forces. Just a few hours after the message was received, 194 survivors of the battalion were safe behind American lines. Cher Ami was awarded the French “Croix de Guerre” with Palm for his heroic service between the forts of Verdun . He died in 1919 as a result of his battle wounds. Cher Ami was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931 and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I.

Pigeons continued their valiant service during World War II and the Korean War. The Dickin Medal for Valor, an award only for animals , was given to 31 pigeons in World War II, more than any other animal. (The next closest animals were dogs, with 8 medals).

Pigeons also have religious significance as well. Noah thanked God for them and Christ defended them. Doves are the symbols of love and peace. Are pigeons and doves the same? The dictionary defines doves as . 1. Any of various widely distributed birds of the family Columbidae, which includes the pigeons, having a small head and a characteristic cooing call. 2. A gentle, innocent person. 3. A person who advocates peace, conciliation, or negotiation in preference to confrontation or armed conflict.

Pigeons deserve the same respect and affection that we give to our companion birds, such as parakeets, parrots, canaries and the rest. When they live on our buildings and deface it, we can remove the birds by excluding them from the area, but we don’t need to kill them. The best way to remove pigeons from a building is to trap them and relocate them in an area where they can live and breed without disturbing anyone. When you trap pigeons, you have to pre-bait the area first with whole kernel corn and then set the trap with the corn in it. You will have to check the traps at least once a day. Once you have removed the pigeons, you need to enclose any open areas on the roof such as air conditioning units, with screening to prevent other pigeons from moving in. Before you enclose these areas, you should inspect for nests and remove any that you find. You can also have spikes, wires or repellant gels placed on certain areas of the roof, depending on the design. Normally this is done by a professional pest control company, but you can do it yourself if you like.


About askthebugman

I have been in the pest management industry for over 40 years. In that time I have used almost every pesticide available to control so-called “pests”. With this experience, I have learned over the years that the pesticides we use are far more dangerous than the pests we are trying to control. As a result, it has become a passion for me to improve the quality of life for humans and the planet, by assisting people to not only become more educated and aware of their environment – but also by learning to manage their home and business with a sustainable and healthier approach to tending to unwanted infestations of bugs. Please enjoy my blog posts, check out my publications, utilize my services, or simply stay in touch if you have a bug question…


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