Hawks are seen as the pigeon prevention method for a mansion awaiting reconstruction in Ewell, United Kingdom. City officials worry about pigeons roosting in the building that was damaged by fire in December 2013. Pigeon droppings will damage the plaster and pose a health and safety risk to the crews scheduled to start the restoration work after Christmas. The temporary solution? Fly hawks over the mansion at dusk each night in hopes of scaring off any pigeons, preventing them from roosting there. If that doesn’t work, they will need to consider more permanent solutions to keep the pigeons out.
We all thought my sister Marcy was making up the dumbest story. She kept saying that she saw pigeons living in the drive-through car wash, which was totally stupid, because there’s no way they would survive in there, with all the machinery moving and the soap spray and everything else going on in there. Of course she said she tried to take pictures of them with her phone, but that’s just when the soap covered her car, or the picture was too blurry with water spray or the big spinning brushes in there. Convenient. Pigeons in the car wash, but no way to take a picture of them?! Yeah, right.
Mom and Dad are letting us share a car, but we have to pay for the gas, change the oil regularly, and make sure it stays clean. Course, that works in theory for my parents, cuz they don’t have to drive us around all the time, but it means that Marcy and I fight all the time over the car. When Dad threatened to take the car away if we couldn’t work things out, we decided we’d both contribute to the “Car Jar”, which means a little bit of both of our paychecks goes into the jar to pay for gas, carwashes, stuff like that. Then, whoever goes to get that done just pulls the money out of the jar for it. It kind of works. But, we still fight a lot over who has to do what, and who gets to use the car each day. We just don’t fight around Mom and Dad anymore.
But, every time it’s Marcy’s turn to get the car washed, she complains. She doesn’t want to do it herself, so she takes it to the only drive-through car wash. Fine, whatever. But, then she complains that the pigeons in the car wash freak her out. Plus, she says, why should she wash the car there if they’re just going to poop on it as soon as she drives out. I thought she was just making it up because she hates having to do anything like wash the car or vacuum it or anything else. She’s pretty lazy.
So I finally said I’d take the car through the drive-through wash, just to shut her up. When our car was dirty enough to justify the ten bucks, I headed on over with Marcy in the passenger’s seat.
Wouldn’t you know it, even with the spray and soap and brushes everywhere, I could see some pigeons in the car wash. One of them was sitting on the tiny ledge above a window, and another pigeon actually had a nest on top of the big dryer that moves up and down. There were eggs up there! Marcy said that was new, and she finally got her picture of the pigeons in the car wash. She took the picture just before our car went under the dryer and right before that pigeon pooped on the windshield. Unbelievable. Guess my sister’s not as stupid as I thought. We showed the manager our picture and got another free car wash out of it, but I got the impression they already knew they had pigeons in the car wash and just didn’t want to do anything about it. Marcy made a deal with me – I always wash the car at home so she doesn’t have to go to the car wash again, and she puts a little extra money in the Car Jar. Works for me.
The pigeon in the church saved the funeral services. We were tired of sitting, the pews were hard, the air was stifling, even the best-intentioned of us were visibly fighting off a case of the drowsies. My friend’s wife, Sarah, had died, and she would have hated her own funeral. Her youngest child, an honest boy of eleven years old, leaned over to his dad and said, “Mom’s probably laughing at us right now.” He was right. She had the kind of sunny personality that laughed at etiquette, and was likely mocking her family and friends struggling to remain attentive throughout the droning sermons at her funeral.
Why on earth do people who speak at a funeral feel the need to repeat the same consoling phrases and stories time after time? It’s as if they think the longer they talk, the more homage they’re paying to our loved one. My friend’s wife would have preferred a few hilarious stories about her, a great song or two, and a fabulous party with her coffin in the center of the room. Maybe she got so tired of what was happening that she sent that pigeon into the church.
In the middle of a diatribe of how “the passing of a loved one is more sad for those of us who remain on earth than it is for our loved ones,” a pigeon dislodged itself from a hiding place somewhere up in the church roof and dive-bombed the podium. The speaker squeaked and his notes scattered. The pigeon in the church was soon joined by a few more, who flew over our heads, close enough we could feel the breeze from their filthy wings. A pigeon dropped a little “bomb” of its own right on the shoulder of a young woman who was a distant relative of the dearly departed. She had chosen to wear the most revealing, slinkiest little dress I’d ever seen at a funeral, but now it had a white splotch oozing down the shoulder and onto the front.
No one was snoozing now, no one was crying now. There was chaos. Some children tried to catch the pigeons in the church. Fathers waved the birds off and some women tried in vain to maintain some kind of composure and dignity throughout it all. We were all reminded of how the woman in the casket would have loved the disruption, her full infectious laugh would have rung out loudly. The speaker was flustered, the pastor was embarrassed to have pigeons in the church, but most of us were grateful the proceedings were cut short and we could move on to enjoying each other’s company, consoling each other’s grief, and remembering how wonderful Sarah was.
Megan posted on her Facebook status, “We’re officially adults!” Her boyfriend Josh tweeted, “Megan’s stuck with me for at least one more year. Muhahahahaha!” They had just signed a lease together on an apartment two months after finishing college. Despite the terrifying job market, they had both managed to find jobs after graduation, neither of which was in their chosen field of study. But, hey, all their employers cared about was that they were college grads and were willing (or gullible) enough to take a job at much lower pay rate than most of the other applicants.
Megan and Josh were just thrilled to be getting paychecks, enough to at least find a new place together. They’d dated throughout most of college, had talked about moving in together, and now it was a reality.
Moving day was fun, once friends actually showed up to help them. Most of their friends texted, “I’d love to help, but . . .” The ones who came through for them were rewarded in pizza and whatever odds and ends the couple now owned in duplicate. The friend with a truck got Megan’s old Blue-Ray player.
Once the ugly, ancient, stained, hand-me-down furniture was in place, and the rest of their belongings were stacked in boxes around the two-room apartment, an impromptu party began and then petered off an hour later. Everyone was tired and had other things to do, and hoped that Megan and Josh would return the favor when it was their time to move.
The young couple looked around at the cardboard jungle surrounding them and decided it would be tomorrow’s battle. They’d done it. They’d moved in together, they had their own place with just the two of them. Frankly, being “officially adults,” was taking its toll. They needed a little time out. Laughing, giddy, they showered and retired to bed, slightly drunk on beer and novelty.
The next morning, they woke up to a neighbor screaming out the window at her son. A car horn blared. Somewhere in their apartment a faucet was dripping. They were some of the sweetest sounds they’d ever heard.
Megan got up, smiling, and promised Josh some coffee. He grinned and said something about how she didn’t need to wear a bathrobe around their apartment, it wasn’t like she was going to offend him.
Two seconds passed before Megan backed into the tiny bedroom. “Pigeon in the kitchen,” she whispered.
“There is a pigeon in the kitchen,” she repeated, slowly and only slightly louder.
“How would a pigeon get in the kitchen??”
“I don’t know, don’t care. Get rid of it. Get rid of the pigeon!”
He stepped outside the room and glared at the pigeon, who sat nonchalantly on top of a small stack of moving boxes marked “kitchen.”
Then the pigeon flew right at them. They didn’t have time to scream or grunt – they turned tail and slammed the cheap bedroom door. They could hear flapping and cooing.
After a flurry of activity, they finally found one of their cell phones, and called the super, who informed them he was not responsible for their pigeon problem. “Wait, pigeon problem?” Josh asked him. “You mean, this happens a lot and you’re just telling us now?”
After a little bargaining, and a threat to call Megan’s father, who is an attorney, the super agreed he should call Allstate Animal Control to get rid of the pigeons.
Megan looked at Josh wryly as he hung up. “Officially adults, but we still need to drop Daddy’s name, huh?” They decided to keep that part of their story just between the two of them.
Sure, I want to get rid of the pigeons in my attic, but I never wanted it this way. Smudgins is a beautiful Russian Blue cat, with soft fur that hardly sheds at all, an easy purr, a friendly attitude towards kids, and a deep love of sitting in my lap as I read. I deliberately chose to keep her as an indoor cat, because I live on a busy street, and I can’t bear to think of her as a victim of an accident. I dread the idea of someone knocking on my door to inform me they ran over my cat, or worse, just having her disappear. So, I keep her indoors, and she seems to be happy. I guess I underestimated the driving need a cat feels for hunting. I never saw the vicious side of her, until now.
I have known about the pigeons in the attic for a couple of months, now. I know I’ve been lazy, but I’m busy with work, and when I come home, I just want to relax with some soft music playing as I cook and eat a gourmet meal by myself (I love to cook), and then sit in my comfortable couch reading a good book and petting Smudgins. It’s not an exciting life, but I’m happy, and that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?
So, I’ve been lazy. I know I need to get rid of the pigeons in the attic, but I’ve grown accustomed to the rustling noise up there, and I just didn’t make it a priority. Until now.
I woke up this morning, put on my slippers, and headed into the kitchen for some breakfast. My feet slid on something wet on the floor, and when I flipped on the light, I screamed. It was blood. Not a lot, but enough. And feathers. And some entrails and other pigeon parts. It seems Smudgins got feisty during the night, found her way up into the attic, and caught herself a pigeon. As cats do, she obviously felt the need to play catch-and-release-and-catch-again with it. Otherwise, she would have just killed it in the attic and munched on it up there. Instead, there I was, standing in the midst of the most horrific kill I’d ever witnessed, feathers and pigeon blood in the middle of my kitchen floor.
And Smudgins sauntered into the kitchen, looking smug and pleased as could be. She actually had the gall to meow at me for not filling up her cat dish fast enough this morning.
It is now a priority for me to get rid of pigeons. I can’t bear the thought of waking up to that again. Good thing I can call Allstate Animal Control and get rid of the pigeons right away. What a nightmare!
As the children have gotten older, I’m able to let them play outside on their own more and more, but they still have this awful habit of leaving the door open, and now we’re getting pigeons in the house. At first, I didn’t realize we’d have a pigeon problem. I thought the children’s frustrating habit of leaving the door wide open would simply lead to higher heating and air conditioning bills, or allow the next door neighbor’s dog to run inside our home every now and then. I didn’t know it could lead to pigeons in the house, and I’m more disgusted by those devil birds than I am by our neighbor’s unwashed yappy little creature. At least with a dog, I can shoo it out of my house, clean up after it, and know that it’s gone. I have no idea how many pigeons have fluttered their way into my home, so I don’t know if one got left behind, hiding in another room, dropping little bird mites onto my sofa or dining room table, ready to swoop down on one of us when we walk unsuspectingly into that room. Just gross.
But, they do. My guess is, they’re nesting or roosting in the house just down the street. It’s been abandoned for just over a year now. The previous owners struggled with their mortgage payments, especially after the husband got sick and the medical bills racked up. They had to move out of state to live nearer to a special clinic that he needed, so they rented it out for a while. Unfortunately, the people who rented it didn’t take care of the place, and it got run down pretty quick. Finally, the bank had to foreclose on the place, the tenants moved, and it’s sat there empty ever since. What a waste. And, what an attractive place for nuisance animals like pigeons to call their home.
I’m not naïve. I fully expect those flying rats to breed and move into the rest of the neighborhood. Or, attempt to move in. My husband and I have been pretty vigilant about checking out our attic to make sure nothing’s living up there, and we spot check the outside of our house, looking for holes or cracks. But, I’ve heard a lot of animals can get into the house through the tiniest of openings. Of course, my kids like to put out the welcome mat for them, when they disregard my rules and leave the door wide open.
We get pigeons in the house who just fly or walk right through the open back door. I will find them around the dog’s food bowl, or hanging around the kitchen garbage can. I grab the broom and chase those suckers straight back out the door, but sometimes I’ll miss one. I might have to call the bank that foreclosed on that empty house, to see if they’ll get Allstate Animal Control to get rid of the pigeons in the house. And, my family will just have to be more vigilant to keep them out of our house, too.
With all the recent road construction, and placement of new bridges throughout the county, I’m surprised there isn’t a greater discussion of the overpopulation of pigeons in the county.
You might wonder what one has to do with the other, but it actually makes a great deal of sense. First and foremost, pigeon urine and feces are dangerous. Not just in the yuck-I-have-pigeon-poop-all-over-my-car kind of way, either. Pigeon feces carry all kinds of harmful microorganisms that release into the air once the droppings have dried that can cause respiratory problems in humans and animals. And, they attract other creatures like mice and rats to an area. Gross and a health hazard to those who live in the area. But, I’m talking about the very real danger of pigeon urine. You see, pigeons have a high uric acid concentration in their urine, the key word being acid. It can eat through wood joists, concrete, and cause metal to rust faster than it would normally. I’m sure you see where I’m headed with this. The serious overpopulation of pigeons in our county can seriously undermine the money and safety of the residents in our county. We’ve spent a lot of taxpayer money to pay for these new overpasses and bridges, and we’ve all endured months and months of dealing with road construction and detours, all with the glorious aim of lessening road congestion. Wonderful, right? So, why should we have to deal with repairs and replacing these structures much earlier than normal? If we allow the overpopulation of pigeons to continue, we’re going to pay the price in the long run, by jeopardizing the structures we just paid for. What is it they say about an ounce of prevention?
But, it seems to go completely unnoticed right now. I commute about 40 minutes each way, and drive under some of these new overpasses. Looking up, I see they’re covered in flying vermin, and I have to wonder why we aren’t doing more about the problem. Maybe the county can’t find the funds to install barriers, or do what they need to do to get rid of the pigeons. Conspiracy theorists might wonder if the road construction companies invite the pigeons in order to ensure themselves work in the future. As for me, I believe that no one in the county government has considered the overpopulation of pigeons to be a big enough problem, yet. I worry that it will be one of the things we’re discussing in the years to come, as we have to pay more and more for repairs, maintenance and cleaning. The worst case scenario would be if we allowed it to go on past the point of no return, and one of these new bridges or overpasses actually collapses. Wouldn’t we rather take care of the problem now rather than moan about what we should have done?
Before this week, I had no idea that pigeon control could control my life. My wife and I have entered into the previously unknown world of rental properties and property management, and we’re learning it involves much more than getting a tenant and collecting rents.
Since our last child moved out, we have wanted to move to a smaller, but nicer, home. Despite our grown children’s sadness at seeing their childhood home go on the market, we spent a lot of time and effort sprucing up the place to our realtor’s specifications, and hoped for the right buyer. As time passed, we hoped for any buyer. We soon realized that our beautiful home was not going to sell quickly in this depressed market. Of course, we had already located a gorgeous town home, and desperately wanted to buy it. We just needed to sell our home first.
Finally, our realtor suggested that we either drastically lower the price, or consider renting. We worked it out with our mortgage people, and thanks to some money we had stashed away, we were able to put a down payment on the town home. Fairly quickly, we found a family happy to rent our previous home. We thought we had it made.
And, then, pigeon control became a part of our life. Our rental family was nice enough. They paid their rent on time, which helped us make our mortgage payment on time. Our former neighbors never complained to us. But, they just didn’t take very good care of the house. Since they didn’t own it outright, they just let minor problems go on until they became big problems.
A couple of shingles blew off our roof during a recent thunderstorm, and instead of replacing them, or even telling us about them, our tenants just ignored it. Before long, we had a little bit of water damage in the house, and pigeons had moved into the attic. Not many pigeons, but just enough to cause a ruckus and get the attic filthy. Of course, that’s when our tenants finally called us for pigeon control.
When I went to inspect the damage and the pigeon problem, it was so gross. There were pigeon nests up there, a couple of dead pigeons, and pigeon guano everywhere. The smell was bad, and the damage was worse. I didn’t even want to think about all the tiny little mites and other bugs that might be infesting our house.
Allstate Animal Control came out and did the pigeon control for me, and they even cleaned up the mess and installed pigeon blockers. We suffered through the rest of our lease term with the renters, went back in and fixed everything up the way we like, and put the house on the market. Hopefully, this time, we’ll get buyers and not have to worry about pigeon control ever again.
“Get rid of the pigeon! It’s in your kitchen. You gotta get rid of the pigeon somehow.”
Dennis and Tom were stuck together doing a history project about President Truman, and, even though they didn’t really know each other, they had decided to hang out at Dennis’ house for the afternoon, get a pizza and get the project done. Dennis’ parents both worked full-time, and he was an only child, so they’d have the place to themselves for several hours. Tom got permission from his foster parents, and they walked to Dennis’ apartment after school.
Tom was kind of a quiet kid, and there were a lot of unkind rumors going around about him at school. He never confirmed or denied any of the rumors, and Dennis suspected he started some of them himself. So, Dennis had no idea that Tom’s father had died when he was three, and his mother was an abusive alcoholic, so Tom had been taken from his mother’s care and placed into a foster home. His foster parents were nothing like the stereotype. They were nice to him, let him have his privacy while encouraging his passion for reading and building model airplanes.
Dennis had both his parents, who, in his opinion, gave him too much space. They left for work an hour before he walked to school, they usually came home three hours after he’d returned, and they went away on weekend trips a lot. They told him how proud they were of him, and how self-reliant he was, but sometimes, he really wished they were there a lot more.
When the two boys walked into the apartment, they heard a crash in the kitchen. Dennis dropped his bag and ran in there, followed by a more timid Tom. Both boys saw the pigeon sitting on the edge of the kitchen sink. It had knocked over a dirty breakfast bowl, which had crashed on the floor.
As they quickly retreated into the main room, Tom was adamant that they had to get rid of the pigeon. “They carry all kinds of diseases,” he told Dennis, “And, they’re just . . . gross.”
Dennis secretly agreed, but he felt he needed to show off a little, first. He started grabbing stuff from the main room, and, bragging that he could hit the pigeon with anything, he started throwing things at the bird. A dustpan flew into the kitchen and clattered onto the floor, followed by a couch pillow and one of his mom’s stupid cat knick-knacks. The pigeon flew up into the air, and banged into the window in a frantic effort to get out. Finally, Tom took pity on the bird and stopped Dennis from throwing his textbook at it. He quietly walked into the kitchen, opened the window, and said, “The best way to get rid of a pigeon is to let it out.”
Dennis frowned at his boring history project partner, and picked up the phone. “Pepperoni okay?” he asked.
My brother’s nuts, because he thinks the pigeons in our bedroom are a sign of good luck, but I know it’s better to get pigeon control in here immediately.
We live in a typical big apartment building, devoid of any personality. From the outside, it’s just an ugly white, broken up by tiny black windows, fire escape ladders, and streaks of bird droppings. It has even less personality on the inside, where ancient floors echo footsteps off white walls, and the doors leading to individual apartments are decorated only by little black numbers.
It’s a whole different world inside our apartment, though. Mom doesn’t make a lot of extra money at her job, so it’s not like we had an interior designer come through to transform our small, two-bedroom apartment into a sanctuary from the world. But, Mom sure does believe in color, and she’s draped bright red curtains over the windows, painted our room an eye-searing blue, and she’s filled every shelf with brightly colored glass knick-knacks.
My brother’s turning ten next week, and the only thing he’s begged for is a pet. I know that’s not going to happen, and Mom’s even explained to him we can’t have a pet in this small apartment. It would stink, we don’t have room for a pet, and worst of all, my brother’s allergic.
So, I can’t really blame him when he thought his birthday wish came true early. He loves to open our bedroom window to hear all the noises of the kids playing in the playground below, and to his delight, two pigeons flew in the open window. Once the pigeons were in, he slammed the window shut. The pigeons didn’t seem to mind too much. They just walked around on the window sill and cooed every now and then.
As soon as I realized what happened, I went to call the building supervisor so he could get pigeon control up to our apartment whenever he got around to it. I knew Mom would have a fit if she came home from work tonight to find two pigeons in the house. Already, there was an ugly stain on the wall under the window, and I swore I would not be the one to clean it up. My brother was rushing around the kitchen looking for old bread and a bag of sunflower seeds he swore was in the cupboard, while I yelled at him that we had to let pigeon control take care of the problem. He kept yelling back that the pigeons were not a problem, that they were his birthday pigeons, so I should just shut up.
When my brother’s got something in mind, he’s super stubborn, so I just sighed. The guys who come up to do pigeon control can deal with my brother. I did my part, I dunno who’s gonna clean up the mess, but it ain’t gonna be me. I just laid back down on the couch with my book and waited for either pigeon control or Mom to come home, whichever came first.