Chicago: Train Station Heaters are for People not Pigeons

Inspired by a story aired on NEWS RADIO 780 WBBM, CHICAGO This Week


In the radio article, basic information was  given about customer reaction to the pigeon presence under the heat lamps- some not bothered and others disgusted. Story comments add both sides to the story. Resource for the news article is listed at the end of this post.

The article contained some rather stomach-upsetting references to groups of pigeons gathering at space heaters used around Chicago train stops. Now, PETA might have given a nod to the CTA for their treatment of pigeons but the fact remains that these birds, multiplying in the millions, are not only pests but no matter now pretty they are, how shiny and colorful, they are not harmless; they are introduced pests.

The Pigeon, or in its true name the European Rock Dove, is an introduced species, as its name implies. They breed year-throughout and the droppings are places for three disease-bearing fungi to reproduce. These are histoplamosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis. Please see the excellent article referenced below for more on these diseases.

The problem is that these birds gather and accumulate anywhere, building nests and sheltering in and around awnings, eaves and ledges, and anywhere they gain a hold and have a place out of the wind. They sit on street lights and traffic lights and posts. Their presence is particularly unappealing around grocery stores, drugstores, and restaurants, specially when people are feeding them near those areas. Feathers, nests, and other pigeon evidence is not a healthy thing to have around food and medications. And another problem is that the pigeons seem to have few natural predators… except one which I saw in action a few weeks ago.

Before moving to Chicago I became fascinated with the movements and appearances of the Cooper’s Hawk. During times of plenty when the doves, a relative of the pigeon, gathered in our area, the hawk showed up around 4 to 5 PM many afternoons to forage. Two dozen doves quickly became twelve, and then fewer than that, and the hawk looked healthy as ever.

It was fun watching the bird tree-hop, moving from branch to branch, in a pattern, as I observed it, seeming to go to the same branches or in the same area of the taller trees each time. It would go around the yard for an hour or so then take off in the same direction across the next street over and vanish into the sunset and the dense tree cover.

Cooper’s Hawks are bird-eaters, and across the way in Chicago I noticed one feasting on a pigeon. I observed it through binoculars, as it was in a tree near someone’s deck. The bird went about a casual pace, having a nice nosh. I watched periodically and did not notice when the hawk left the tree.

Take care when cleaning around where pigeons have congregated! Again, see the article cited in the first Resource entry for information on taking caution when working in such areas.


1. For information regarding pigeons: “Facts about Pigeon-Related Diseases.” Environmental and Occupational Disease Epidemiology. New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 29 January 2012.>

2. For image of Pigeon: “Rock Pigeon.” 15 January 2012. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 29 January 2012. <>

3. Find stunning copyrighted images of the magnificent Cooper’s Hawk and related species at the website for the Seattle Audubon Society, at

4. For radio resource: “Pigeons Crowd Under Heat Lamps at “L” Stops.” Reporter Steve Miller. CBS. WBBM Newwsradio 780 and 105.9 AM, Chicago. 26 January 2012. <>

5. For how to cite media sources:  “How to Cite Media: Television and Radio.” Handman, Gary. Media Resources Center, Moffitt Library. Library, Last update 11/04/08. University of California, Berkeley. 31 January 2012. <>

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2004 – 2012. E-mail author for use permission at Courtesy counts. Thanks for cooperating.


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