Photo credits: ©Deutscher Tierschutzbund
This month, Deutscher Tierschutzbund launched a second phase of their #RespectPigeons campaign. Focused on building a more positive image of these birds, often considered to present a health hazard, the campaign aims to create peaceful co-existence of humans and pigeons.
Often referred to as ‘sky rats’, pigeons have long been perceived as cities’ unwanted animals. Although few know how city pigeons came to their urban existence, people nowadays consider pigeons disease-spreading, polluting animals that deteriorate city architecture and shared urban spaces.
Descendants of rock doves, the world’s oldest domesticated bird, pigeons were brought to the cities 5000 years ago and bred for various purposes. Thanks to their extraordinary navigation abilities, they have been used for centuries to transmit messages up to 1000 km, often playing a crucial role in history. But today they are denied space in their urban environments by metal spikes installed on ridges and roofs, poisons and defense gels, and being chased and scared on the streets.
Deutscher Tierschutzbund is appealing to towns, cities and municipalities to take proven animal welfare-friendly measures to ensure that humans and animals can live together peacefully. Unlike pest control methods which violate pigeons and can cause mortal suffering, such measures reduce pigeon numbers permanently.
Communities are encouraged to use pigeon houses which offer attractive nesting possibilities where eggs can easily be exchanged for dummies. The campaigners are also providing more information on peaceful coexistence through social media channels, brochures, postcards and beer mats in pubs, cafes and railway stations.
Here is how you can help pigeons:
- Don’t be afraid of disease. The health hazard is no greater than that of other ornamental and wild birds or pets.
- Don’t feed pigeons. Human food often lacks important nutrients, and irregular feeding poses problems for the animals.
- Get to know pigeons. They are faithful animals and stay with their partners for a lifetime. They are very intelligent and can even recognize human faces.
- Do not torment or annoy pigeons. Nobody likes to be kicked or chased away. The life of the pigeons in the city is difficult enough – we shouldn’t make it any harder for them.