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After the article about the people in my town using a bird of prey to scare the feral pigeons away at the Pantiles (see Local pigeon news posts), I looked into the matter further to see how effective and humane this method really is. I mistakenly thought that using this method was humane because, as I first read, the birds of prey are not trained to kill the pigeons – only to fly about to scare them. How silly of me to believe this! My mistake simply shows how important it is to research something thoroughly before making a judgement.

There is nothing humane with using birds of prey to control pigeon numbers. They state that the bird of prey is only supposed to fly about and scare the pigeons, however, how do you train a bird of prey to not catch and kill a pigeon?

Rather than reproduce what has already been so effectively written, please go to the following websites to read for yourself how ineffective and inhumane this method really is:

And for information on the law regarding pest control: PiCAS: The Law

Pest control companies that use lethal methods are either ignorant of the fact that it is ineffective and inhumane to use birds of prey or they simply ignore the fact and decide to keep their clients in the dark because they are making money from them. It is so sad to see so much greed and speciesism in the world.

I believe I found a clip of the video that inspired the people at the Pantiles to hire out a bird of prey (unfortunately, anyone outside of the UK cannot view the video). In the clip they simply state that they use falcons (a natural predator of pigeons) to scare pigeons in Dubai. They fail to mention whether the falcons actually catch and kill pigeons, so I looked further and found an article about their services as well as the company’s website. Nothing is mentioned on their own website (no surprise there), however, in the article they state that their falcons “never attack birds in the air and are trained to return to their owners for food when they’re hungry”. Believable?


A few weeks ago I posted two articles about feral pigeons in my area from the local papers (see: Local pigeon news). I felt I had to reply to the articles from a pro-pigeon perspective, and they published my views in the “letters” section. I wonder if anyone will bother to attack my views or if someone will agree with them. I’ll keep an eye out.

But first, I found the original “pigeon and hawk” article online, so here it is. Simply click on the photos to zoom in (keep clicking!).

Pigeon article1

Pigeon article2

http://www.yourtunbridgewells.co.uk/

And my letter in response to the article:

My letter

And my comment on the pigeons under the railway bridge article:

Although I do not reside in the Sherwood area, I know of the bridge mentioned in the article (“Councillor vows he will clip the wings of pigeon problem”). The design of the bridge is an ideal nesting spot for feral pigeons and without proper netting they will continue to use the space.

My concern regarding the article is that Mr Backhouse says he’s pushing for the railway authority to “re-house” the pigeons. I’m doubtful any pest control company will actually re-home these pigeons, rather, they would most likely kill any babies they find. Besides being cruel this is totally unnecessary since there is a local wildlife rescue centre (Folly Wildlife Rescue in Eridge Green) that would take in any feral pigeons and pigeon babies found for rehabilitation and re-homing.

R Poole


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)


The other day when we were walking about in town we saw a lady feeding the feral pigeons on the high street. We walked past with a smile on our faces – someone else was being kind to the pigeons.

Then we heard another lady walk past saying, “Ew, she’s feeding the pigeons,” in a tone that suggested her distinct disapproval of the activity and of the species.

That left us thinking about the situation. The lady who’s feeding the pigeons is possibly doing it out of kindness and love. Feral pigeons that live in towns and cities will eat whatever edible thing they can find. It can be a tough life. As a species, us humans that is, we tend to litter and somehow miss the trash bins provided in towns. Sometimes it’s an accident – the sandwich or crisps fall out of your hand, however, sometimes it’s simply laziness and carelessness and the food item is dropped so that the pigeons or the human street cleaners can sort it out – whoever gets to it first. So people really shouldn’t complain about pigeons. They clean up after us.

So the lady is helping the pigeons in their quest for food, giving them an easy meal. But does this help the negative perception some people have of pigeons? They see the lady feeding the pigeons as something wrong. “Don’t encourage the pigeons, they carry disease, etc. etc.” All that nonsense.

Would it be better for the lady to feed the pigeons in a less busy place, away from negative eyes? Out of sight, out of mind. With less pigeons on the streets maybe people would stop thinking badly of them. Wishful thinking? I think so.

However, there is some truth in the above thought. The more times the pigeons are fed in a town centre or by busy shops, the likelihood of them sticking around and breeding more often is there – thus the population increases and you get hundreds hanging about. That’s when people start calling pest control and the ban on pigeon feeding is enforced.

Then again, a lot of people are attracted to the activity of pigeon feeding. With hundreds of friendly pigeons about and landing on you with that unmistakable “Where’s the food?” look in their eyes, people seem to enjoy the experience and tourists appear simply to see the spectacle and to participate. This is when people may start to view pigeons in a more positive way. They get up, close and personal and see for themselves that pigeons are magnificent.

So the question remains: Do you feed them in towns or not? Do you encourage them to breed more in the cities and potentially ignite the hatred of those ignorant pigeon hating people? Or would it be better to invite the pigeons to feed in your garden, away from the eyes of the general public (and hoping that your neighbours are pigeon friendly)?


I think this documentary about pigeons and disease needs to be posted on its own so that you all get a chance to view it. You may find parts of it hard to watch, however, it is a really informative documentary and well worth the watch.