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There have been two articles about feral pigeons in my area. One about the problem of pigeons breeding under a railway bridge, and another about using a hawk to scare pigeons away from a certain area in town.

I know the bridge mentioned in the first article, I’ve been under it and have seen the pigeon population that breeds there. Since the design of the bridge is perfect for pigeons – with ledges and nooks and crannies – pigeons naturally choose to roost and nest under them.

Since these types of bridges normally have a busy road under them I always fear for the baby pigeons that might accidentally fall from their nest. I would personally like to see the bridge netted off to prevent pigeons from nesting there (purely to stop baby pigeons from falling to their death), however, it would need to be done properly so that the pigeons could not get through and become stuck.

What I’m worried about is what will happen to the existing baby pigeons under the bridge. Will they be “rehomed” as the councillor is suggesting or will they simply be killed by the pest control company? I will be contacting the relevant people about this matter.

Councillor vows he will clip the wings of pigeon problem

Friday, March 11, 2011, 08:00

By Helen Kitchener (helen.kitchener@courier.co.uk)

It has been a slimy, unpleasant problem for more than 15 years – but now a Sherwood councillor has pledged to tackle the scourge of pigeon droppings from Sandhurst Road railway bridge once and for all.

For several years councillors and residents have lobbied Network Rail, which owns the bridge, to clean it up and move the pigeons which roost there but to no avail.

Recently elected councillor Bob Backhouse, who lives round the corner from the bridge, said it was high time the disgusting mess was tackled. But Mr Backhouse was quick to point out he was “not declaring war on pigeons”.

“This is one of those issues which sounds trivial but when you go out knocking on doors people want it sorted,” said Mr Backhouse. “Just the other day I heard from a woman who was pushing a double buggy and one of the pigeons dumped on her. It’s happened to me when I was walking into town and I had to turn round and go home to wash my hair.”

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council employs a contractor to spray the area around the bridge with antiseptic on a regular basis.

“I’ve been assured by the borough council there’s a file about four inches thick on it,” said Mr Backhouse. “The council has really tried but has come up against a brick wall with Network Rail. I understand they have much more important things to sort out but they seem to have quite a cavalier attitude.”

Mr Backhouse is pushing for the railway authority to rehouse the animals and put up netting after they had bred to stop them returning.

“It’s one of those things that if we get it done it will make a lot of folk happy,” he added.

Network Rail refused to comment.

(From: http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/news/Councillor-vows-clip-wings-pigeon-problem/article-3317091-detail/article.html)

Sandhurst Road railway bridge:

sandhurst-road-pigeon-bridge2

(Photo from: http://kevinlynes.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/sandhurst-road-railway-bridge-a-real-bird-puller/)

The second article is about the fact that some traders are fed up with the local feral pigeons and the mess they leave. They take the usual ignorant stance that pigeons are dirty and a health hazard and therefore need to go (please see my post: Feral pigeons and disease). I understand that their droppings can damage buildings, etc., however, without barring off the nesting sites and ridding the place of waste food, the pigeons will stay in the area. A few hours in the week of a hawk flying about won’t deter them.

While I applaud the traders efforts to find a humane solution to their so-called pigeon problem, it is flawed and will most likely be ineffective. My worry is that once they’ve realised that their hawk plan isn’t working they’ll turn to inhumane actions.

As far as I can tell from the original article, the hawk isn’t trained to catch the pigeons, only to fly about and scare them off by its presence.

Hawk hired to scare away Tunbridge Wells pigeons

Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The hawk in the Pantiles

The hawk’s profile while in flight scares away the pigeons
Kent traders have employed a bird of prey to scare away pigeons they said are damaging historic buildings.

Several businesses on the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells have joined forces to pay for the hire of the Harris hawk.

Richard Simm, chair of the Association of Pantiles Traders said the pigeons are destroying buildings, and putting off tourists.

Simm has tried playing sounds of the pigeons’ predators through speakers, but with no effect.

He said he is hoping that the landlords or the Traders Association will be able to help with funding for the bird.

“The hawk is quite an expensive way of dealing with the pigeons, but it is done in a humane way.”

(From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/kent/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_9425000/9425811.stm)