How Do Pigeons Cause So Much Damage?

Is it really possible that pigeons cause that much of a problem?  Actually, the issue is not the pigeons but rather what they
leave behind….the debris, nesting material and worst of all, a mixture of urine and feces.  A pigeon consumes roughly 30 grams of dry matter and 30 ml of water, daily.  Do the math and a flock of just 100 pigeons can deposit up to 4,800 pounds of waste, annually.  That represents a lot of poop and it has to accumulate someplace.

Concerns from industrial customers typically fall into three categories,

1. Slip and fall hazards

A major issue for large industrial facilities that necessarily have a focus on safety are slip and fall hazards.  Not only does pigeon feces result in slippery surfaces, nesting pigeons can be spooked when a worker inadvertently disturbs the pigeons in their nesting areas.  That type of incident can result in a fall or “near miss” situation, a scenario that should be avoided.

2. Increased maintenance

Under industrial scenarios, pigeon poop and debris requires someone to clean it up.  This can be as easy as the closest dust pan, but when feces gets into sensitive equipment and product, it can represent an economic hardship.  Furthermore, the combination of pigeon feces and urine is highly corrosive and under the right set of conditions will even corrode steel and concrete.

3. Health risks

Some sources will describe the health risks from pigeons as acute.  Since they are ubiquitous in everyday life, most readers do not take these opinions seriously.  Nevertheless, the WHO recently published the guide, “Public Health Significance of Urban Pests“. In it, the authors identify 60+ different diseases associated with pest birds, most prominently pigeons.  In addition to vectors for bacteria (causative agents for histoplasmosis and cryptoococcosis), pigeons are associated with viruses, endo and ectoparasites. The health risks should not be underestimated.

Perhaps more critical are the health risks which pigeon feces represent when they come in contact with food or feed. Contamination of food beginning at the farm and ending in the kitchen represents a very serious food safety risk that should not be overlooked.

For most facilities and plants, the “pain” of pigeons is expressed as a function of these three concerns.  Depending on the facility, one or the other concerns may represent more or less of a hazard.