HERE’S THE PROBLEM WITH FEEDING PIGEONS

rat pigeons

Oh pigeon man and pigeon lady, sprinkling your birdseed and bread chunks around the neighborhood. Please look at this photo and consider exactly which animals are receiving your bounty, and growing stronger and larger and grosser.

This photo was taken by a tipster at 8 a.m. Monday at Riverside Park and 79th street.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 45 comments | permalink
    1. Miriam says:

      This is so misleading. If you want to feed pigeons, the park is the place to do it and you will likely be feeding other birds as well. Who is for starving the pigeons? Don’t answer that, I know you’re out there.So a rat got in on the act? Well, maybe we should all stop eating as the biggest source of rat nutrition is our leftovers left as garbage outside. Compared to the fat, well fed off our scraps, rats in my neighborhood the poor rat in this photo is downright scrawny. So you know, if you’re serious about this, maybe you can volunteer to be the first to stop eating.

      • allie says:

        Who is for starving pigeons? Yes, Miriam, we ARE out here. Here’s the problems your beloved “rats with wings” pose:

        •Pigeon droppings deface and accelerate the deterioration of buildings and increase the cost of maintenance. Large amounts of droppings may kill vegetation and produce an objectionable odor. A single pigeon can produce up to 25 pounds of guano, annually.
        •Pigeon manure deposited on park benches, statues, cars, and unwary pedestrians is an aesthetic problem. Around grain handling facilities, pigeons consume and can contaminate large quantities of food destined for human or livestock consumption.
        •Pigeons can carry and spread diseases to people and livestock through their droppings. Additionally, under the right conditions, pigeon manure may harbor airborne spores of the causal agent of histoplasmosis, a systemic fungus disease that can infect humans.

      • Steph says:

        Pigeons and birds do not need and should not eat human food. So if you think you’re doing them a favor, you’re not!

    2. Bob says:

      pigeon lady from home alone 2 was cool though. didn’t see have a stealth spot in avery fisher hall?

    3. Chris S says:

      I guess what my wife says is true -“pigeons are actually flying rats”.

    4. Bishop says:

      Not misleading. I’ve seen well-meaning “feeders” spreading breadcrumbs randomly on sidewalks and street corners in the neighborhood. The fat, nasty pigeons clearly aren’t the only ones benefitting from this unsolicited largesse.

    5. Scott says:

      I’m calling photoshop on this pic. I never see rats out during the daytime, except in the subway, when it’s always night. Squirrels have the daytime shift in the park.

      • allie says:

        You must not spend very much time in the park during the day, Scott. Although they’re generally nocturnal, rats ARE out during the daytime too; they’re just a bit more circumspect about it. The smell of a good meal is irresistable.

      • Ruby in Gotham says:

        Scott,I’m a CP Conservancy garden volunteer — I can attest to seeing rats during the day while we work.

      • Diane says:

        Scott, I see rats the size of cats scurrying between the garbage bags left out for collection and the brownstones on my block in the W80s during more late afternoons than I can count.
        But, like the flying rats that poop outside my window and spoil my source of ‘fresh air’ the ground rats also LOVE the bread bits that are left on the sidewalks by the school on Columbus and 84th and on CPW and 85th.
        I can’t believe that people can be so misguided as to think that spreading food on the sidewalk is a good thing.

    6. Michael says:

      Why you SHOULD NOT feed pigeons
      1) Large populations of pigeons is a health major hazard.
      2) Feeding pigeons is not doing them a favor. They lose their ability/desire to scavenge.
      3) They can become aggressive.
      http://nycprc.org/feeding.html

    7. David says:

      Miriam: You are mentally ill. Get help.

    8. Miriam says:

      lOL Y’all need to visit Paris, or Italy or get out more. Pigeons are not the worst thing that can happen to a city. But that aside, I was merely responding to the idea portrayed in this photo which is that feeding pigeons in the PARK will lead to more rats. The picture in fact, illustrates the opposite, because that is one scrawny, sad looking rat. If the rats were in fact, living high off the hog because of the largess of the pigeon feeders, it would not be a scrawny mess. I may be crazy some of y’all need to get a life.

      • Zulu says:

        Hi Miriam, actually it is pretty bad for a city to have an overly large population of pigeons. From a financial point of view millions of dollars are spent every year bird proofing and cleaning the mess that pigeons make under bridges. Like I said below, their droppings prematurely corrode steel and break down concrete. As innocuous as they may appear, pigeons wreak havoc on city bridges making the city spend money that could be used in other programs.

      • Craig says:

        Yeah, Miriam. I think it’s you that needs needs to get out more. Get out of our city! Go feed the flying rats somewhere else!

      • Jose Habib says:

        The pigeons are one of the worst things about Paris.

    9. Katherine says:

      Amen. On my corner – 90th/WEA – someone has been feeding “birds” daily FOR YEARS. Neighbors have asked her to stop FOR YEARS. Guess what? There’s a huge rat problem at that corner too. Disgusting. Pigeons adapt just fine to urban environments; they don’t need feeding! Migrating songbirds do not eat your bread chunks and seed from the sidewalks. Only rats and pigeons do. Get a clue.

    10. Pete L. says:

      Actually what’s funny about this is any time (at least along Riverside like in this photo) you get this pile of seed and the pigeons and rats start eating it, the local red tailed hawks perch above and start catching plenty of both. We have a pair of brothers in this area that work together and snatch up quite a few. Wonder if the bird seed people realize that…

    11. Zulu says:

      In addition to the rat problems caused by feeding pigeons, these roost on bridges, viaducts, and other overhead structures. Their droppings are very acidic and they prematurely degrade concrete and steel. Bird proofing has become a sizeable line item budget in construction because it will cut the life span of a structure in half if left unchecked. To some, pigeons may look like a harmless and helpless creature but they are an invasive and destructive force. Stop feeding them!

    12. I hate Rats says:

      There is a major rat problem on Joan of Arc Island at 94th street. Bird feeders throw crumbs out and rats (in broad daylight) come out and eat them. After dusk, its a feeding and mating frenzy in the bushes for the rats. Stop feeding them you sickos. If you need a dependent friend, get a cat.

      • kgbuws says:

        Here here!
        I wish I could get you to talk to my crappy bird feeding neighbor. She attracts rats, mice, birds and now cats (though not enough to keep up with the vermin population) She has a suburban sized bird feeder and refills it every morning. Bleeding hearts and morons all around us.

    13. Maria says:

      I have been to Paris and to Italy and the Pigeon problem there is even more disgusting than here. Tourists (idiot tourists) pay to put seed on themselves so birds can perch on their bodies. Perhaps we can sell “The NYC Rat Experience” here – people can cover themselves in seed and wait for rats to crawl up their bodies.

    14. Sue says:

      Believe it or not Central Park is a an environment that is somewhat balanced. You do not want to feed any animals in the park or they will not seek food for themselves.

    15. Sabine says:

      Better than any long article!

    16. Joe says:

      This is a serious problem in the lower 70s near Columbus/CPW. There’s a woman who spreads buckets of seed around every morning. She goes out at the crack of dawn; I sometimes see her on my morning run. Besides the huge flocks of pigeons that now hang out at all the street corners threatening to poop on your head, there’s also noticeably more rats than there were in prior years (the piles of seed started showing up maybe 2-3 years ago). And the homeowners and tenants that live in the nearby buildings end up bearing the cost of the rat prevention.

      FEED A PIGEON, BREED A RAT.

    17. upper westsider says:

      Distressing that so many can’t stand the idea of sharing the world with other animals, who are trying, as we are, to survive in a concrete jungle. Miriam is right, it’s human garbage that attracts and feeds rats, which are just cousins of squirrels (without the bushy tails) and of those cute hamsters, etc. (40% of all mammals on earth are rodents.)

      As for pigeons, they are technically “rock doves,” are food for hawks and owls, and are no “dirtier” than sparrows or any other bird, just bigger. Does that make it easier to share some space with them?

      How about a little environmental consciousness? We should be grateful we have any wildlife left at all in urban environments.

      • Saynice says:

        I used to think pigeons were just rats with wings until we had a nest on our terrace, and i did a little research. They are indeed a type of dove. They also mate for life, share equally in nest sitting, and both produce “milk” for their babies.

    18. Bibi says:

      I don’t like pigeons – they wake me up at the crack of dawn with their cooing and I can’t even see out of my windows that face a shaft. They are very high and I can’t reach them. In the summer, I cannot even open the window due to the stench that rises fromn the heat. So, I don’t care if I never see a pigeon again! And I live on 88 UWS.

    19. Leslie Rupert says:

      Well said!! If only many more people could see this.

    20. Robin says:

      The pigeons don’t bother me ,but i never feed them either.. However i am so disgusted and afraid of the RAT problem .. It’s scary for anyone and if i had little kids playing in the park i would be even more upset..I have seen them out in the daytime.. Yuck..So please do not feed them as you are creating an infestation..Bats are rats with wings not pigeons!!!

    21. Enzio says:

      Let me tell you how I solved this. For several years there used to be about a hundred pigeons by our apartment building. They roosted on our window ledges, layering these with feces. Residents were afraid to open their windows. Three or four mentally disturbed people were leaving bread and rice on the pavement. Talking to them, even by a police officer, did not help. My solution: On a field of bread I would spray charcoal-lighter fluid. On scattered, separate pieces of bread, I applied Raid Max Ant & Roach spray, which has a handy spray tube for pinpoint accuracy. The birds did not eat the food (it smells awful). The chemicals act as a repellent. This went on for about 2 months. The untouched bread was swept up by the sanitation people or building staff. The bread-spreading dullards managed to catch on that their bread was being spoiled, and took their bread elsewhere. Nowadays we have bread-free pavement and merely 5 to 10 pigeons visiting our building, just once in a while.

      • Mark says:

        Brilliant, Enzio. Thanks for posting. Filing that strategy away in my brain if there’s ever a problem on my block.

    22. Debbie D says:

      Again another comments section where both sides are kind of right. Do pigeons exist in way too high of numbers? Does their poo degrade structures and cost us all money? Does feeding pigeons increase rat populations? Yes. Yes. Yes.

      But they are also important parts of the ecosystem. They have a place, and a role, and it is important.

      The happy medium is to allow them to fill that place, fill their role, and not make changes unnaturally. Dont feed them. They will be fine. Thats how the ecosystem works. Unfortunately there arent enough natural predators (our friendly hawks just cant keep up) and they reproduce like crazy.

      Stop feeding them, stop feeding the rats.

      • BK says:

        Exactly!!! They will be fine … They are birds who can flyto where the food is. It is amazing how a pigeon in the park eating grass seed can be beautiful yet the same on on the sidewalk eating stale bread is a rat with wings.

    23. Dee says:

      To help the environment, fight diseases and eliminate mess, first stop feeding humans. At least rats and pigeons clean up.

    24. Miriam says:

      Well, as always happens on these threads, the haters (in this case pigeon haters) go bat shit crazy because someone happens to not agree with their point of view. Note to Craig. This IS my city mister. I was born here and am sure I’ve lived here longer than you’ve been alive. If I want to make the case for pigeons (who have been here longer than you or I) I am within my rights to do so. I bet you’re from Wisconsin anyway.

      • Karen says:

        I am heartened by the fervor of the pigeon dialogue. I had thought I was the only one who cared so deeply about pigeon issues. Yes. I count myself as one of the pigeon haters – for similar reasons to Bibi and others. Come spring, they are the bane of my existance. Here’s what I really think…
        http://www.dontkillyourneighbor.com/?p=777

      • Zulu says:

        Just remember Miriam, your rights end where those of others begin. If by feeding and fostering pigeons you create unhealthy and unsanitary conditions for others you are infringing upon other people’s rights.

    25. Erica says:

      I like pigeons, and don’t really get the “haters” – but there is no question that feeding them also feeds rats. Given the rat population, and the fact that the efforts to eradicate them leads people to use poisons that cause enormous harm to birds and other animals, I can’t imagine doing anything that would feed the rats. It is,min fact, likely cruel to pigeons to feed them because it likely leads to more rat poisoning and therefore more birds injured by poison.

      Furthermore, I had always been taught, and think it is correct, that it is wrong to spread food for wild animals in all but the most exceptional circumstances. It encourages the production of increasing numbers of offspring, which then starve if they too are not fed. If you let the animals gauge their offspring to the food sources already available in the environment, you will have less suffering overall.

      Miriam, Ina, sorry you’ve been so rudely treated, but I do hope you will reconsider feeding the pigeons. There are other ways to help the, that may be better for them and for the environment more broadly.

    26. beebee says:

      After reading your comments, I’ll be friends with the pigeons. Most of you are narrow minded. When was the last time anyone got sick from a pigeon? And none of you address the slobs who toss their food on the ground instead of in the garbage. Pigeons did not ask to come here, they were brought over by Europeans, like some races of people. They also saved many soldier’s lives during WWI. Some pigeons received medals of honor for their courage. Are any of you that brave? Doubt it. Just like to hide behind your computer spouting hate.

      • mlinderk says:

        i agree, i might feed some today. those that feel that strongly about pigeons and any act of kindness to them, says’ more about the person than the bird.

    27. Breda says:

      rats need to eat too . They clean up waste food I love them