Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pigeons on the Pill

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
9 comments

From the "Now I've Heard Everything" desk here at BOTB, comes the news that rock pigeons in Hollywood, California will now be ingesting birth control drugs placed in pigeon food that human Angelenos will put out for them. The drug is called OvoControl P and it inhibits egg production in female birds.

First, a serious question:

I know pigeon poop on your brand-new Mercedes ragtop or plopped into your double venti Mocha, half-caf, soy Chai latte is a huge, gnarly bummer, but is anybody thinking about the Cooper's hawks that will eat these semi-sterile pigeons? Will the drug affect them?

Are we getting ourselves into one of those situations where we throw a chemical solution at a small problem and this causes a more serious problem? Spraying for gypsy moths in New England had a catastrophic effect on the nightjar population there.

Even non-chemical solutions can have an unforeseen but devastating impact: The introduction of the house sparrow from Europe was meant to control the infestation of wire worms in the East--now we've got an infestation of house sparrows.

And now, some stupid jokes (which came immediately to mind)
  • If you ask me, that's taking the 'rock' right out of rock pigeon. Get the AOU on the line....
  • If this pigeon ain't rockin' don't bother knockin'
  • This opens up a new product opportunity for the animal drug industry: Pigeon Viagra.

I'll welcome your comments on this post.
I'm sure there are some other good pigeons-on-the-pill jokes out there...

9 comments:

On July 31, 2007 at 1:04 PM edit2 said...

Well, I don't have a joke, but the chemical used here is nicarbazin, which has been used for several decades to prevent coccidiosis in broiler chickens. Think about THAT.

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/nwrc/research/
nicarbazin/index.html

On July 31, 2007 at 1:16 PM Birdfreak said...

People always feel they have the solution to any problem in the form of a magical little pill or chemical creation. I think this is a stupid idea and one that is most certainly going to backfire. When will people learn?

Sounds like they're pigeonholing this whole thing...

On July 31, 2007 at 2:50 PM Daniel said...

This is the time for trofic chain ecologists to shine. not only for the pigeons but for the rest of the food chain up and down...

Im wondering what other types of seed eating birds are around LA that could be affected by this scheme, strategy?...

By the way...house sparrows are becoming quite abundant here in Honduras...lovely little turd colored birds

On July 31, 2007 at 3:55 PM Patrick Belardo said...

Oops. I just put up a very similar post. I guess we both watched Good Morning America. I'm with you on this one. What else will be dining at these feeders and what about all those predators? This sounds like a bad idea.

On July 31, 2007 at 5:32 PM edit2 said...

Doesn't it concern anyone that, if you eat chicken, you've been ingesting this stuff for years? What ABOUT all those predators?

On July 31, 2007 at 11:22 PM Mary Ann Melton said...

While I agree that this scheme is fraught with possible unplanned outcomes and consequences, pigeons in urban areas can be major problems. My son lived near the University of Texas in Austin. His complex had a big pigeon issue. They could not use their patio because it was ALWAYS covered with pigeon poop. Some of the other "solutions" don't seem humane - big nail shaped spikes to keep pigeons from landing or roosting, for example. Grackles are also a huge problem due to the large populations inhabiting trees throughout town.

San Antonio had a unique solution for moving them away from the Riverwalk - they put netting under the bridges where the pigeons were roosting and nesting - it worked pretty well.

Don't get me wrong, I think pigeons are beautiful birds and it is amazing at how well they adapt to urban areas. But I can see how the sheer numbers of them are issues in metropolitan areas. I wish that some of the songbirds could adapt as well to today's changing environments.

On August 1, 2007 at 12:33 AM akeeyu said...

You know, this seems like something that will be start with "What could possibly go wrong?" and end with several predatory birds being reinstated to the endangered species list.

On August 1, 2007 at 8:24 AM Rondeau Ric said...

I saw the teaser but didn't see the report, just that they wanted to control the population (Big Brother).

My first thought was "Are they giving them imodium to stop them pooping and they explode ?" Thanks goodness it's only birth control.

Granted I have a weird mind, or what passes for a mind in Canada, eh.

There has to be a redneck joke in there somewhere.

On August 6, 2007 at 1:22 AM Susan Gets Native said...

Oh, for God's sake...why don't we just bring DDT back too, while we're at it?


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