Pigeon Control: The dangers of pigeon excrement and nesting materials to architecture.
Other than being unsightly, Pigeon excrement (droppings) and also their nesting material, such as feathers, sticks, or straws, pose some severe risks to both individual and architectural health. Damage and deterioration of buildings and infrastructure are typical, especially since roofs, balconies, empty buildings, and beams all provide the flat surfaces, which are ideal perching and nest building spots for the birds.
There are two primary ways by which pigeons can cause some costly damage to infrastructure. The first occurs when a build-up of their excrement, given the high acidity level it has, causes materials used in building work to erode and soften. Not only can this be extremely dangerous for stability, given that the issue is not usually spotted until the damage becomes more extensive; in some cases, the area impacted is severely damaged to the extent that it’s irreparable. Historic buildings that have been constructed out of either sand/limestone are highly vulnerable softer stones surfaces.
The second way that the activity of pigeons causes infrastructure damage is when their nesting materials block pipes and gutters, causing water flow blockages and plumbing issues. If such a backup goes undetected for a long time, which often happens since nests are usually hidden from the general view, then mold develops. In the past, hidden pigeon nests that have interfered with the drains of large, rarely occupied warehouses have led to collapsed roofs and significant physical damage that has put companies out of business for many months. Other than blocking water pipes, there is also the severe risk that bird nests created near or in chimneys and air vents can interrupt airflow in and out of a building. This can cause disease-carrying pigeon feathers to spread through space much quicker, as well as contributing to severe illness or even the death of the building’s occupants. The reason this can be such a severe health issue is that the infected feathers can aggravate pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, that the occupants of the building may have.
In terms of control and deterrents that can be used to prevent pigeons congregating on roofs or flat surfaces, there’s a massive discrepancy between what’s available for the average household to implement and what’s available for larger buildings. This question can only really be answered depending upon if the bird has nested. If the birds have nested, then you can only use exclusion devices such as netting and structural modification. If the birds have not nested, you can use more bird deterrent devices such as bird spikes, bird wire, shock track, sound units, and related control devices.
A building like houses and offices are not the only places where pigeon droppings can cause a lot of damage. Car damage from pigeon excrement is also becoming an issue. Once again, it’s the uric acidic nature of the waste that’s responsible for the lasting damage. The Uric acid breaks through your car’s waxy outer coat and permanently damages the paint sealant. This is why it’s essential to clean any excretion of your vehicle as soon as you notice it, to prevent permanent damage.
Pigeon proofing areas are difficult; as mentioned, there are ways to implement anti-perching devices that can work in some places to reduce the number of pigeons in a room. However, pigeons pushed out of one area have to find another, and thus the damage that they cause continues, just in a new location. Their distinct appearance and their congregation in urban areas mean that Pigeons are easily the most identifiable group of birds in the west. Control steps must be taken to improve both the awareness around the damage that their nest building and droppings can do, while also giving people the tools to spot when they may be at risk from exacerbating these dangers themselves—for instance, unstable roof tiles or open chimneys. Tackling the issue as soon as you recognize it is the easiest way to stop the damage from becoming too costly and irreparable.
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