Peregrines Answer to Pigeon Problem?

This bird lover and nature-watcher certainly think so, and in light of news about pigeons around transit stations and other places in the Chicagoarea lately, let’s look at how to safely keep the pigeons in check.

A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) at the b...

A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) at the bird show at New York State Fair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First thing we must remember is that this present crop of pigeons, if the information is correct, is an introduced and invasive and pestilent species from Europe. Thus their regular name of the European Rock Dove. Only a few were brought to this country but now do we have a problem, and a big and messy one at that.

Now pigeons are life, and many deem them beautiful to watch and to feed, but you should never feed the pigeons in the parks or other public places. Disease can spread and cause trouble for both the birds and people exposed to excessive bird poop and the presence of nests. The pigeons will congregate wherever there is food available and good nesting sites. Of course many building owners and transit agencies try the spiky additions to eaves, roofs and ledges but the pigeons seem only to find other places to hang out.

Also as pigeons are life, they should not be poisoned. Besides poisons spread out with intent to kill one species can only harm other species, so poisons are out as methods of keeping pests in check in public areas and around parks. And of course birds, insects, and small animals are part of the natural food chain- something eats them and they eat other things. It is not safe to use potent poisons and herbicides around areas where the larger animals and birds feed – larger ones such as the Peregrine Falcon.

It so happens that we in Chicago are fortunate to have Peregrines in presence, and one pair atop The Clare near Loyola apparently has young ones within. These magnificent birds are more than just stunning to look at, more than majestic in flight and fast on the wing; they eat pigeons and abundantly, too.

It would certainly be fine if we would share our Peregrines with Oak Park, and bring them around areas of Chicago overrun with pigeons especially around transit stations. In additon to the Peregrine Falcon, great use could be made of bringing in hungry Cooper’s Hawks, which are members of the Accipiter class of predatory birds that includes the Goshawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk. I think staff at the Field Museum and/ or the Museum of Science and Industry could find ways to bring the Peregrines to those infested areas and let them have at those pigeons.

As the Peregrine is an endangered species, we should do this basic step to bring their population back. After all, the use of chemicals on our part caused many of the birds to die. We did not eliminate the Bald Eagle, and thank goodness, and now we are helping to bring their population back as well. Certainly it would be spectacular to see the Peregrines and their companions wheeling magnificently above more of our region, gracing the skies over Oak Park, relaxing in the trees of the parks or atop the buildings. You can even see them with their stunning wings in the windows of the John Hancock Center and the famous Signature Room restaurant.

Are there Peregrines nesting around you? Contact your local museum or nature society or ornithological organization to find out how to work with them to preserve them. Perhaps you can designate a protected site for them, or if they are in a potentially dangerous area arrange to have them taken to a safer place.

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

The Peregrine Falcon is a major predator of ra...

The Peregrine Falcon is a major predator of racing pigeons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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