Truly Nolen India

Biology and Behaviour of Urban Birds

Feral Pigeon ( Columba livia )

Feral Pigeon ( Columba livia )

Key Facts

Common Myna ( Acredotheres tristis )

Key Facts

House Sparrow ( Passer Domestics )

Key Facts


Damage Identification (Why Pigeon is a considered as a Pest?)

Under some circumstances, some urban bird species (especially pigeons, doves, gulls, house sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, grackles and corvids) that congregate at too high population densities produce droppings that harm such human artifacts as historical monuments, buildings, statues, fountains and cars. Also, certain synanthropic avian species can be extremely noisy at feeding sites, breeding colonies, and communal roosts. Moreover, some of them can be harmful to urban vegetation (trees and such fruits as cherries) in gardens (blackbirds and starlings, for example) or cause additional pollution problems with their droppings, which foul yards, sidewalks (creating the risk of slipping and physical injury for pedestrians) and roads, and also produce foul odors. In so doing, such species as pigeons, gulls, starlings, grackles, blackbirds and corvids become a nuisance. In addition, some medium-sized gregarious birds, such as gulls, rooks and lapwings, can cause dangerous aircraft accidents, during take-off and landing at suburban airfields.

Health Hazards Associated with Birds

Health risks are often exaggerated. Nevertheless, large populations of roosting birds may present risks of disease to people nearby. The most serious health risks are from disease organisms growing in accumulations of bird droppings, feathers and debris under a roost. If conditions are right, particularly if roosts have been active for years, disease organisms can grow in these rich nutrients. When parasite infested birds leave roosts or nests to invade buildings, their parasites can bite, irritate or infest people. To be safe, when investigating or cleaning up these areas, wear a disposable mask and protective clothing, including safety glasses, plastic or rubber gloves, coveralls and a cap.


This systemic fungal disease is transmitted to humans by airborne spores from soil contaminated by pigeon and starling droppings, as well as droppings by other birds and bats. The soil under a roost usually has to have been enriched by droppings for three or more years for the disease organism (Histoplasma capsulatum) to increase to significant levels.

Most infections are mild and produce either no symptoms or a minor flu-like illness. The disease can, on occasion, lead to high fever, blood abnormalities, pneumonia and even death. A potentially blinding eye condition, called ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, can result from infection by the disease organism. The central part of the retina becomes inflamed and is damaged as blood vessels grow inside the affected area. An estimated 100,000 people have the rapidly progressive form that can lead to blindness.


This fungus is typically found in accumulations of pigeon droppings in attics, cupolas, ledges, water towers and other roosting and nesting sites. Even when old and dry, bird droppings can be a significant source of infection. Cryptococcosis has been found in as many as 84 percent of samples taken from old roosts. The disease, acquired by inhaling yeast-like vegetative cells, results in two forms. The cutaneous form is characterized by acne-like skin eruptions or ulcers just under the skin. The generalized form begins with a lung infection and spreads to other areas of the body, particularly the central nervous system, and can be fatal.

Ecto parasites

Birds can harbor external parasites that can invade buildings. A long list of mites infest pigeons, but the northern fowl mite and chicken mite are usually the main culprits. Other pigeon ecto parasites that may cause problems inside buildings are the pigeon nest bug (a type of bedbug), various species of biting lice, the pigeon tick and the pigeon fly. Droppings, feathers, food and dead birds under a roosting or loafing area can cause an environment for the ecto parasites to survive.

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