I remember going to the capital city of Valletta as a child, with a packet of breadcrumbs that my grandma had prepared, so as to feed the pigeons in the city squares. I remember scattering the crumbs all around me and a flock of pigeons would fly or waddle their way towards me to get to the food.
However, as the years went by, the number of pigeons continued to increase. Nowadays, people no longer feed the birds, and a number of creative solutions are regularly implemented on historical buildings to get rid of the pigeons that perch on them and which build their nests along the ledges of the façades. Mass nesting around Malta is common with a number of pigeons often sharing one building.
Whilst most people are all for the protection of birds, when it comes to the feral pigeon, there are only a few who will speak up for them. This might be since feral pigeons rank amongst the worst pests to be found in Malta, with some even going as far as calling them the rats of the sky.
Feral pigeons breed very rapidly, up to six times a year with two eggs per clutch. Nowadays, instead of feeding the pigeons, kids run them off the squares, and people are getting more desperate in their efforts to try and control these pests from invading their properties, dirtying them and causing damage to them.
Since they live in urban areas, pigeons have a plentiful food supply and manage to scavenge discarded food. The problem can be kept at bay by reducing food supplies, scaring them away with water or loud noises, as well as installing spikes and sprinkling spices on ledges. One of the most ‘bird friendly’ solutions to this problem is pigeon birth control, which could drastically decrease the growth of the pigeon population.