Note: Some highly specific identification information replaced by [...] for security reasons. Some contact inforamtion has been updated and is shown in italics.
22 October 1997
To:                  Capt. [...]
From:              Dave Roth, President
Re:                  Pigeon Problem at AZ State Prison [...]

Date:              Wednesday, 15 October, 1997
Mileage:         150
Time on site:   2 hours
Misc.              Travel time, report production.
Amount due:   [Voluntarily offered by ADOC].

Introduction:  Capt. [...] requested inspection, evaluation, and recommendations for feral pigeon control at the AZ State Prison at [...].  Dave Roth met with him, toured the facilities from several vantage points, and generated this report.

Relevant Natural History of the Rock Dove (feral pigeon):  As their name implies, pigeons in their natural habitat live in hollows on rocky cliffs.  Feral pigeons inhabit manmade structures such as ledges, windowsills, roof overhangs, sheltered beams, attics, etc., and vegetation such as palm trees, which approximate their natural habitat.

  •  Pigeons primarily eat seeds and grain but will also eat olives, berries, etc.  They can travel many miles daily in search of food and may sample many feeding sites.
  •  Pigeons normally lay 2 eggs during each breeding cycle with typically 4 cycles per year.  Breeding is most active in spring and summer but can occur year round.
  •  Pigeons are gregarious birds and congregate in flocks which readily accept newcomers of their species.
  • General Control Methods:  The recommended method of pigeon control is exclusion.  Typically, it is the most effective, long-term, safe and economical approach.  Each nest disabled equals an overall population reduction of two to six birds per year.  The documents I faxed to you previously refer to that in more detail.

    Health risks and precautions:  The Arizona Dept. of Health Services Vector and Zoonotic Disease Control Div. and the Maricopa County Health Dept. report zero cases of any disease transmitted from pigeons, or other wild birds, to man, throughout the history of this state.  However, accumulations of organic or inorganic debris, if disturbed, may pose a problem if resulting airborne particles are inhaled.  Therefore, general precautions, including those set forth by OSHA where applicable, should be taken whether or not pigeon or other bird waste is encountered.

    Specific Recommendations:  The following will address specific areas on site.

     Introduction:  Observations were made during a tour of the [...] Unit grounds and from an observation tower located Northeast of the center of the [...] Unit.

     [...] Unit:  Rooftop mechanical equipment, primarily evaporative coolers, HVAC ductwork, etc., provides suitable nesting sites for pigeons.  Excluding birds from these areas can be relatively easily accomplished by enclosing the cooler bases, openings under ductwork, etc., with wire mesh, sheet metal, netting, wood, siding, etc.
    It is possible that ten or more nests are active on each of six or more rooftops.  Therefore, a thorough habitat modification program could result in a permanent reduction of the [...] Unit pigeon population by approx. 600 or more birds through what would essentially be a one-time project.

    [...] Unit:  Openings were observed in the louvered sections of [...] Unit Cell Blocks, which provide pigeons with access to the attics.  These spaces can provide habitat for a large number of birds.  Attic openings simply need to be closed with wire mesh, screening, sheet metal, etc.  In general, all other openings that may allow pigeons to enter any buildings must also be closed.

    [...] Unit Catwalk:  The south and west sections of catwalk were observed.  Pigeons were seen nesting in the open spaces on top of the support columns directly below and sheltered by the catwalk.  As with the other areas mentioned, above, these openings must be blocked off to prevent access by pigeons.  If wind loading may be a problem, wire mesh or screening would be a good exclusion material to use.

    Habitable vegetation:  Numerous untrimmed palm trees were observed which provide ideal breeding sites for pigeons and other birds.  Trimming and maintaining these trees so that fronds are kept at a 45o or greater vertical angle will prevent pigeons from nesting on them.

    Attractant elimination:  Modifying the habitat will greatly reduce or eliminate the resident pigeon population and number of on-site birds.  To further reduce the number of birds just visiting from surrounding areas, eliminate as many food sources as possible, as follows:

  • Store edible garbage in covered containers.
  • Spray, prune, or eliminate fruit, berry, or seed bearing plants such as Olive, Sumac, and Mulberry trees, pyracantha bushes, etc., to prevent them from producing food for the birds.
  • Discourage personnel and inmates from feeding the birds.  However, feeding pigeons has been proven to relieve stress so, allowing this practice may be a worthwhile exception.
  • Roosting areas:  If visiting birds are creating a problem by roosting/loafing in specific places, wire coils (i.e. Slinky™ toys) or spring or non-lethal electrified wire can be used on parapet walls, exposed beams and pipes, etc.  Aesthetically compatible bird netting can be used to exclude larger roosting sites.   Use of phony predators, audio, chemical, and/or tactile repellents, etc., is generally NOT effective.

    Bird rescue:  If any orphaned, sick, or injured birds are found, place them in a safe, warm, and dry location and call the Urban Wildlife Society Hotline at 1.602.ANIMALS (264-6257).

    If you have any questions or need further information, please contact me by phone at 1.602.ANIMALS (264-6257), or by e-mail to .

    Dave Roth
    State President

    State Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona
    Hotline: 602.ANIMALS  Office: 602.265.BIRD


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