The Elephant In The Garden: Wood Pigeons
About two or three years ago we were quite intrigued to see wood pigeons arrive quite regularly in our back garden. There are a few large open spaces with lots of trees in the area surrounding the suburban estate that includes our house and a very big open parkland, with hundreds of magnificent trees in it, less than two miles away. Our garden is not small but not enormous; it’s big enough to require frequent attention having several fruit trees in it, lawns, shrubs etc.
We had seen wood pigeons nesting in the large conifer that stands in a neighbour’s front garden on previous years. But since they started visiting our garden in ones and twos originally, the numbers have increased to three and four and it is no longer as “interesting”. The main problems stem from their enormous appetites, their large size and their frequent excretions of large amounts of very messy and revolting dollops of poo. We encourage birds to visit our garden with several feeders and two bird boxes that are used every nesting season, for many years now.
Wood pigeons would “hoover” up all the bird food that is put out, as indeed they used to before we got a sort of cage that keeps them out but allows only birds the size of blackbirds, or smaller, in. Even so they can intimidate all the other birds away by flying at them and using their large wings and bulk to force them away from anything not inside the cage – even magpies! We receive the garden bird survey figures from the BTO throughout the year and have noticed that we are not alone in being invaded by these flying “food-hoovers”. Wood pigeons have steadily moved up the frequency charts for visiting gardens to take up the top two or three places!
But to date we have not seen any comments in the Nature, RSPB or the BTO magazines about the invasion. Wildlife lovers and birdwatchers we may be but I am often encouraged to consider recommending a cull. Horror of horrors- there I’ve used the “c” word – which I am shocked at, having only ever considered culls necessary for grey squirrels and mink. Wood pigeons are too big to visit suburban gardens regularly. Any comments anyone?