Pigeon rat

Feeding pigeons is also feeding rats

We all love animals – but…

All of us at Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership love animals but know that it is important never to feed the pigeons in Aylesbury. It may seem like it’s helpful to the pigeons, but it actually has the opposite effect. Whether you actively feed our town’s pigeons or just leave your leftover food on a bench for the pigeons to find, feeding pigeons has serious consequences for the birds, the people who use the town, and the town itself.

Not convinced?

Here are several reasons you shouldn’t feed the pigeons.

Overfeeding creates a health hazard for both pigeons and people.

Feeding pigeons creates unnaturally large pigeon populations. If food is plentiful a pair of pigeons can breed up to six times a year and each time they can lay two eggs. This creates competition for roosting and nesting sites. Large flocks unable to sustain their population suffer from disease, which can spread to other birds, and starvation.

Large numbers of pigeons also pose serious health risks to the general public. A typical pigeon can deposit 25lbs (just over 11kg) of droppings a year. Pigeon droppings can carry diseases such as Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis and Psittacosis, which can infect other animals – and possibly people as well .

Pigeons cause considerable damage to buildings, street furniture and pavements.

The droppings be very corrosive and cause significant damage buildings and street furniture – leading to considerable cost to keep surfaces clean, hygienic and repaired. And, when faced with these costs building owners will resort to measures to prevent bids nesting – using spikes, nets and other barriers – and this puts even more pressure on the few remaining roosting and nesting sites.

It actually hurts the birds!

Pigeons have to maintain their natural ability to scavenge and find food for themselves. When they are fed by people, they lose that ability and become dependent on people for their survival.

Bread is not a healthy source of nutrition for birds.

White bread contains none of the fats and proteins pigeons need to sustain their daily health and energy. Pieces of bread that are too large can potentially cause digestive blockages. Also, bread left outside quickly develops mould, which makes birds ill. Pigeons are also part of the food chain. A healthy pigeon is good food for our neighbourhood Peregrine falcons which feed on them.

Food feeds more rats than it does pigeons.

Rats sustain themselves through food scraps too, and create nests in landscaped areas, drains and buildings where they find a steady supply. So feeding the birds – or not disposing of food waste properly is also feeding rats. Let’s get the rats out of Aylesbury town centre by getting rid of their food supply!

Other control methods are expensive and not very effective.

Experience from elsewhere has shown that culling pigeons by trapping, shooting or poisoning isn’t very effective and also other birds and animals, including pets, can get killed by accident. There can even be a risk to people, especially children. If food and nesting sites are still available other birds will quickly move in and take the place of the ones that have been killed. Building accessible nesting sites where eggs can be reached and removed from the nests – or replaced with artificial eggs – cost a significant amount to construct and install and then have to be closely managed.

So….the best and most humane way of dealing with the situation is to STOP FEEDING.

So what can you do with your old or stale food?

Next time you have stale bread in your kitchen, spare the birds and use that bread to make some bread crumbs, croutons, or delicious bread pudding!

If you can’t use the food – use the council recycling facilities. Food waste is converted into methane and used to generate energy and any residual material is converted into fertilizer. 

Together we can keep our animals healthy and our town clean.