Life in Vancouver

Fight the Pigeons!

As a kid I grew up on a great cartoon diet that included modern hits like The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Lab, and Cow and Chicken, but also on some classics like Wacky Races, Squiddly Diddly and Secret Squirrel. Amongst these classics was Catch the Pigeon – with some of the same faces from Wacky Races.

I mention this today because Tom and I currently find ourselves in a battle with pigeons. This time we’re not trying to catch one – although I think we easily could if that was our desire – but get rid of three! Over the last six months ish, Tom has embarked on feeding and befriending a local crow with a great degree of success, but also some collateral annoyance.

Some background – every summer there’s a nest of crows in the tree outside our building. The crows tend to swoop passers by during nesting season because they are walking too close to their nest and they get very territorial around their young. Tom hasn’t actually been swooped and it’s only happened once to me, but we regularly watch it happening as people cross the street. We read a bit about it, and learnt that crows are very intelligent and remember faces. Tom came up with a plan to see if by befriending the crows we could confidently walk around their nest area without threat of swooping. Crows are also very communicative with one another and can tell their friends about people’s faces too – so we wouldn’t just be covered by our tree but perhaps the whole block!

Tom set about leaving nuts on the balcony railing to see if he could attract a crow. On the eighth floor you’re never sure how comfortable birds will be coming to feed here, but we’ve been very successful with hummingbirds so figured it was worth a shot. Sure enough, after a few weeks we started having a crow regularly come and feed. As time has passed we have indeed befriended a crow, and even seen it territorially guard our balcony against another much larger crow! It’s been fascinating watching the behaviour.

In feeding the crow, we’ve also attracted nuthatches, chickadees, starlings, finches, and sparrows (see some photos below). It’s become quite the little feeding ground for these cute birds. Which is saying a lot coming from me\, as I usually hate anything that flies – but I think getting to see these little guys (and bigger guys) up close has given them more personality and also provided an opportunity for me to appreciate their beauty.

But, in the last three weeks, pigeons have appeared. They started off on the roof opposite and just looked over here. Then they started landing on the balcony railing and walking along to the plastic plate of nuts cable-tied to the railing. Immediately we would deter them. Neither of us are pigeon fans seeing them as sky rats, so didn’t want them hanging around so we would wave our arms at them to scare them away. This seemed sufficient, and they very rarely managed to eat anything from the plate, but their confidence was growing and we had to start opening the door and waving our arms at them more wildly to get rid of them. Then at 6am on Saturday morning, they took it too far…

Our apartment is the top floor of our building and south facing. This means that it gets very warm in here and we often leave the balcony door open at night – either just an inch or so, or in warmer weather, wide open. Last week was very warm so the door was wide open when we went to bed on Friday. At 6am I woke up to the cooing sound of a pigeon. It wasn’t the normal kind of cooing we’ve heard from them on the balcony so I thought they were maybe too comfortable and I ought to check it out. As I walked into the living room a pigeon flew out from under our laundry drying rack and out onto the balcony railing, joining a second pigeon. Tom was close behind me and we both waved our arms and made noises to get rid of them, and promptly closed the door.

What. The. Heck. There was no bird poo anywhere thankfully but we were both a bit startled by the fact it was a full three metres into our apartment and not at all phased. There was even an open packet of seeds on the table that it seemed to ignore in favour of looking around our living room. Needless to say, we made sure the door was only open an inch or two the next night.

Then this morning, peacefully asleep at 6.30am, we were awoken once again. There had been a bit of a strange noise and then cooing again. The door was open maybe 2-3 inches. And yet, a pigeon has squeezed its way in. Obviously not scared of us or our apartment at all. Tom was first in the room this time and tried to shoo the pigeon out, but with the door now only slightly open it just kept flying into the glass door. It landed on Tom’s office chair, and then desk and somehow he managed to shoo it out through the gap.

Today, we’ve changed our feeding tactics for our friendly crow – we’re only putting food out when he comes so there’s never any food for the stupid pigeons, and any time they come we’re waving a broom at them. They do seem a bit more afraid now, but they’re still coming back! I have a net thing to hang over the door so that it limits bugs coming in, so hopefully that will stop them from coming in when the door is open, but I’m not entirely convinced.

If anyone has some great suggestion on how to fight this pigeon invasion without scaring away the other nice friendly birds, please share it with me!!!

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