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Pigeons, the number one pest bird!!

Posted by on November 2, 2012

The feral pigeon are the number one urban pest bird, though they can also be found in great numbers in the country as well. They exist in every city across the country, and in fact around the world. I’ve traveled throughout Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and Australia, and have seen feral pigeons in each and every one. Not indigenous to North America, feral pigeons are descendants of domestic homing pigeons brought over from Europe and released here in the 1600s. They were domesticated from the wild rock doves in Europ eover two thousand years ago. These birds are well suited to thrive in proximity to man, they are not afraid of people (until you want to shoot them), and they roost and nest readily in man-made structures. And they will eat just about anything they find.

Had a great pigeon shoot with Robert Buchanan and Kip Perow from AoA outside of Phoenix a couple months back, and we used some great guns!

Feral pigeons cause many millions of dollars of damage each year in urban areas. The uric acid in their droppings is highly corrosive. Also, debris from roosting flocks can build up, backing up gutters and drains causing structural damage to buildings and other structures. These nesting birds cause extensive damage to air conditioning units and other roof top machinery. In addition to physical damage, the bacteria, fungal agents and ectoparasites found in pigeon droppings represent a health risk.

Pigeons are pretty sloppy in their nest building habbits; it is very simple and often consists of a few stiff twigs. They prefer small flat areas away from the ground. Look for nests along building ledges, bridge supports, air conditioning units, window sills, in fact almost any ledge off the ground and out of reach of predators. In crowded flocks, pigeons will blow off nest building and lay eggs directly on a protected ledge! A mating pair will typically have three or four broods a year, with two or sometimes three eggs at a time. The eggs take roughly 18 days to hatch and 35 more days before the fledglings leave the nest. Pigeons are not migratory. Their natural behavior is to stay near their birth site. This trait gives the pigeon a very strong inclination to roost at a particular site. The daily cycle of a pigeon is to roost at night, feed in the morning and courting, interacting with the rest of the flock throughout the balance of the day. Where I live now it is a colder climate and courtship is in the early winter, nest building in late winter and breeding in the spring. However, growing up hunting pigeons in the warm climes ofSouthern California I’ve noted that breeding occurred year round.

I had a shoot in South Africa a while back where I shoot literally hundreds of pigeons on my downtime between big game hunts … these were wild country pigeons and we ate them…. tasted great!

Pigeons will feed in nearby agricultural fields, parks, and anywhere they can find food during the day. They return to their roost in the evening, and individuals can be found at the roost during the day in especially hot or wet weather. I have done most of my roost shooting either early in the morning or in the evening just before nightfall. Using a scope helps shooting in this low light setting. Many hunters feel that the optimal time to hunt is a night using spotlights, but this is not legal in some venues. I barns pigeons can be found hiding up in the rafters and can be difficult to find as they wedge themselves well back into crevices.

I do much of my pigeon shooting these days with PCPs, and I like guns that have adjustable power. When shooting around building, under bridges, or near livestock I’ll dial it down to about 10-12 fpe, but for long range there’s noth at all wrong with a high power gun.  Some of the guns I’ve used recently include the FX Verminator .22, the Daystate Airwolf .25 (what a gun!!), the HW 100 .22 and the Benjamin Discovery .22, and the Benjamin Marauder .22 and .25. Just about any gun works so long as the accuracy is there, but I do like a multishot that allows for fast cycling. The gun that really impressed me was the Daystate AirWolf, which I was using to dump these flying pigeons at 100 yards with head shots. With the Huggett sound suppressor this rifle was less than whisper quiet, I could watch the pellet hit and the bird smack the ground.

Usiung a craddle made of wire, I proped up dead birds to turn them into decoys. They pulled in birds from far and wide. A flight would come in and see them, making a beeline to the ground.

When shooting indoors or around equipment and stock Ill go with either hollowpoint or flat head pellets as they offer good terminal performance on these birds, and do not over penetrate. You want to put the bird down quickly and cleanly and these pellets do it well. I like a roundnose Diabolo for long range shooting when going for long range or shooting in the wide open spaces, but don’t use them as often for the closer shots, as they can over penetrate.

On another note, I’m counting down the days until the Extreme Benchrest competition down in Tuscon ….. it’s going to be a blast! Looking forward to meeting a lot of fellow airgunners, it’s going to be a good time. See you there!

4 Responses to Pigeons, the number one pest bird!!

  1. Mark

    Question: I have recently moved here to phoenix and would like to go out and harvest some of these pesty flying rats. Where is a good location that I can go out and try help limit the population a little bit. I live on the North side of phoenix by the 101 and 16th street. Thank you,

    • Jim Chapman

      Hi Mark;
      You’re going to have to go out on knock on some doors and ask. The guys I know that have permissions guard them pretty tightly, and I’m sworn to keep quiet, (and I think the fact I live out of state helps). You might check with Kip at AoA, he sometimes organizes shoots, has good contacts, and is a lot of fun to go out with.

  2. Boen grimmer

    How can I arrange an hunt with kip

    • Jim Chapman

      Call AOA and ask for him, he books hunts through their Airguns Only Adventures. He’s a great guy to hunt with!

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