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Perplexing pigeon problem

Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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There’s trouble right here in River City, and it starts with a “p,” and that stands for pigeons.The birds have flocked to Glenwood Springs, and pedestrians in certain places are wise to keep their eyes to the skies.Seventh Street under the Grand Avenue Bridge would be one such place, for anyone wanting to steer clear of pigeon plop.”It’s kind of like I look up first before I go through there to see if there’s any birds up there, because you take your chances when you go through there,” said city manager Jeff Hecksel.Besides roosting in public places, the birds are ruffling the feathers of some hotel and restaurant operators. “They’re on my rooftop now,” Sean Cronin, manager of the Quality Inn in West Glenwood, said last week.

“One flew in here last night so we had to shoo him out,” Colleen Stuart, owner of the Riviera Supper Club, near the Grand Avenue Bridge on Seventh Street, said in a recent interview.The pigeon problem hasn’t escaped the notice of City Council member Dave Johnson, who brought it up at a recent council meeting. Hecksel said the city is looking into installing tack strips in places where pigeons perch.Johnson has lived in Glenwood more than 25 years, and said they were once a rarity in town. He remembers seeing a pair years ago in the area of the Grand Avenue Bridge.”When I saw that first pair I thought that was the time to take some precautionary action,” he said.Now he wonders just how much good tack strips can do.”I wonder if we’re just going to push them to a different building. I don’t know. I guess it’s the most humane start. I don’t think any of the solutions I would propose would be very well-received,” he said.

Dave Mahosky, regional sales and service representative for Terminix Pest Control, said he stays at the Quality Inn and Cronin asked if his company deals with pigeon problems. He said the owner of the local franchise shied away from taking on the job, but suggested putting up pigeon spikes. Mahosky likes that environmentally friendly approach.”This way you kind of stay away from any poison,” he said.After having no luck with tack strips, Cronin spent $1,000 on the specially designed spikes, which are about five inches long and mounted to a plastic platform. Cronin said the spikes aren’t sharp.Said Mahosky, “All it does is just inconveniences them basically so they have nowhere to land.”Cronin had the spikes installed with silicone on the hotel’s signs and carport, where pigeons were hanging out and even breeding, and he said they proved effective. Now he may buy more spikes to deal with other problem areas.The Riviera had some temporary success putting up fake owls, Stuart said. The pretend predators drove pigeons away from her awning, where they were nesting. But she recently caught pigeons back under her awning, not to mention the one that ventured inside.Johnson worries that pigeons aren’t native, and might drive out native birds.



Dave Clark, a board member of the Roaring Fork Audubon Society, sees that as less of an issue than the growth in the number of people in the area. That has resulted in increases in birds that adapt to humans and bird feeders, and a decrease in those reliant on native vegetation.He said one challenge in dealing with pest birds is avoiding disturbing birds that receive federal protection.Johnson notices the number of pigeons near coffee shops and wonders if food crumbs from patrons are serving as an attraction.Hecksel said it’s a violation of city ordinance to feed pigeons. But he knows of one elderly woman downtown who does so nonetheless.”It’s one of those things where if you issue a citation it’s probably not a good PR move, and if you don’t, I don’t know if it’s going to make a huge dent in the pigeon population if she were to go away or not,” he said.Hecksel may very well be talking about Ida Toniolli, 95, who owns and lives in the old Western Hotel on Cooper Avenue near Seventh (see related story).

For Cindy Svatos and other city maintenance employees, cleaning up pigeon poop and feathers around places such as the Grand Avenue Bridge has become a ritual as well, for all the good it does.”They’re so filthy under here,” she said of the pigeons, while standing beneath the bridge in what looks like a bombing range for the birds. “The street guys just power washed and it doesn’t come off.”She has her own ideas for how to do battle with pigeons.”I think they need to get a falcon here,” Svatos said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com



Pigeons and doves are part of the same family, according to the National Geographics Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Doves generally are smaller. The commonly seen city pigeon is called a rock dove, and was introduced from Europe. Dave Clark of the Roaring Fork Audubon Society said some people are confusing pigeons with the Eurasian collared-dove, which can create problems just as pigeons do. The birds gained a foothold in Florida and are spreading rapidly around the country. Clark said they have taken over in Carbondale. They werent here three years ago, he said.


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