Feral Pigeon

Species

Feral pigeons (Columba livia) are birds now largely present all over the world and developed from Rock Pigeons that naturally inhabit sea-cliffs and mountains. Rock, domestic and feral pigeons are all the same species and will readily interbreed.

Normally, pigeons are socially monogamous (mate for life) and they can breed at 6 months of age. The females usually lay two eggs each time that are incubated by both parents for 17-19 days. Squabs are fed on “crop milk” by both parents and the fledging period is approximately 30 days.

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon

Domestic Pigeon

Domestic Pigeon

Feral Pigeon

Feral Pigeon

Features

Most of the feral pigeons are bluish-gray in colour, with iridescent purple, blue, green, yellow and red on the neck and throat, a black sub-terminal tail band, and two black bards running transversely across the folded wing. However, due to the long history of cross-breeding programs, variable plumages (reddish brown, black and white etc.) can also be found among the feral pigeons. Apart from plumage, you can easily identify a feral pigeon with the following features:

How to identify feral pigeon?

How to identify feral pigeon?





Habitat

Sea cliffs and mountains are a good habitat for pigeons to avoid their predators (e.g. hawks & falcons etc) and increase their survival rate.

A lot of feral pigeons are attracted to urban area due to the feeding activities by human. Feral pigeons find the ledges, air-conditioners or exhaust ducts of buildings as a substitute for sea cliffs.

Feral pigeons roost at the air-conditioners as a substitute for sea cliffs

Feral pigeons roost at the air-conditioners as a substitute for sea cliffs

Food

Feral pigeons are non-picky eaters. Different types of seeds & grains (e.g. corn, peanuts, rice etc.), fruits and vegetables are their food in the wild. Feral pigeons are not herbivores, where they may occasionally eat small worms, insects and snails.

However, due to the non-picky eating habit of feral pigeons, they are often attracted by food offered by human (feeding activities). Feral pigeons consume almost any kind of food that human offers e.g. rice, bread, sushi or even fast food etc. This is the reason why a large population of feral pigeons can be found in this unnatural habitat.

People feed feral pigeons with sushi and food waste

Feral pigeons are attracted and aggregated at urban area due to feeding activities




Problem Caused by Feeding Activities



  • Animal Welfare
    1. Overweight or nutritional deficiency
    2. Put them in danger (e.g. stay on the road)

      Feral pigeons stay on the road

      Feral pigeons stay on the road

    3. Poor living conditions, overcrowding and increase the risk of disease and parasite transmission among the populations

      Poor living conditions of feral pigeons

      Poor living conditions of feral pigeons

      Large congregation of feral pigeons

      Large congregation of feral pigeons

    4. Feral pigeons are exotic species to Hong Kong. Expand of feral pigeon population may have negative effects on the native species of Hong Kong and leading to ecological problem
  • Environmental Hygiene
    1. Fouling of buildings due to pigeon droppings

      Fouling of building

      Fouling of building

    2. Food residue may attract pests e.g. rats and cockroaches etc.

      Food residue may attract pests e.g. rats and cockroaches etc.
    3. May Increase the risk of Avian Influenza outbreak in our society

Avian Influenza (AI) Surveillance

Upon receipt of complaint about nuisance caused by feral pigeons, Officers of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department will conduct site inspection and take swab samples of bird droppings for AI testing. Our staff will also provide advices to complainant on how to minimize the feral pigeon nuisance.

Sample collection of bird droppings for AI virus testing

Sample collection of bird droppings for AI virus testing