Pigeons may not invade your home like cockroaches or bed bugs, but they can be quite a nuisance when they settle in your outbuildings or begin taking over your neighborhood. These large birds leave droppings on vehicles, spread a number of diseases, and can make a mess of your trash.

Whether you're currently dealing with a flock of these pests or you just want to keep them away, here are five things you need to know about pigeons.

1. Pigeons Are Not Native to North America

Pigeons originated in Europe, where they were kept as barnyard animals, much like chickens and ducks. They were brought to North America by European settlers in the 1600s, and once here, they became feral.

In the early colonial years, North American pigeons lived on natural cliffs and were occasional pests around grain towers. As the human population grew, however, they began flocking to cities where they would feed on food scraps left behind by people. They have since established booming populations in large cities like New York, and smaller flocks meander through smaller towns — becoming pests when conditions are right.

2. Pigeons Are Opportunistic Feeders

In other words, these birds are not picky. They go where the food is. In more rural and suburban areas, they tend to stick to farmers' fields and grain storage areas unless they discover a more accessible food source somewhere else. For instance, if there is a restaurant dumpster that is always open and filled with food scraps, then pigeons will soon move in. The same thing happens in neighborhoods where trash cans are left uncovered.

3. Pigeons Come in Various Colors and Varieties

Most people are familiar with the typical blue-gray pigeons that are most popular in residential areas. This variety is known as the rock pigeon. There are many other varieties of pigeons that may occasionally become pests if they escape from a nearby breeder. Sometimes, homeowners see these birds and don't even realize they are pigeons.

You may see feral rock pigeons with reddish coloration, rather than the classic blue-gray feathers. White pigeons, known as doves, are often homing or racing pigeons that have been bred for competitive and ornamental reasons, but have since escaped and begun breeding in the wild.

4. Pigeons Carry Disease

Pigeons are not ugly, so you may wonder why it's so important to keep them away from your property. The number-one reason is that they carry disease. Among the more than 60 diseases they've been shown to carry are the following:

  • Salmonella. A bacterial food poisoning that is spread when dust from bird feces enters the home through the ventilation system and settles on food.
  • E. coli. A bacterium that the birds pick up from cattle manure, which causes severe gastrointestinal distress in humans.
  • St. Louis encephalitis. An often-deadly, viral neurological condition that causes inflammation of the nervous system.

Pigeons also carry parasites, such as chicken mites and bed bugs.

5. Pigeon Feces Are Corrosive

Having pigeons leave their waste on your car, driveway, and roof is more than just annoying. The bird feces are corrosive and can ruin your home and possessions. If you do not remove the feces from the top of your car quickly, they may eat through your paint. They can also cause damage to roofs, which makes leaks and deterioration more likely. 

Getting rid of pigeons can be very difficult once they settle in on your property or within your community. Eradication requires an integrated approach of getting rid of their food source, trapping, and baiting. If you've been having problems with pigeons, contact Blackburn Pest Control. We offer specialized pigeon control services to protect your family and your home.