Thursday, April 03, 2008

"Mouse Hunt"

How can I say this diplomatically? You could remake this movie with the title "Sky Rat Hunt," and cast my husband as the star. The photos in the previous post show the damage that errant birdshot can do to one's house. I do not understand what aggravates my DH so about the fact that pigeons are trying to set up housekeeping in the barn-shed (the three-sided structure attached to the barn where we store things), but I will admit that Becky enlightened me greatly on the downside of "sky rats" in our email exchange prompted by my last post. Still, I think that cleaning up pigeon poop is better (and cheaper!) than replacing windows!

Rick left yesterday with the hope that his use of deadly force (which DID result in the death of one of the sky rats) discourages any others from hanging around Boulderneigh. Bad news: Jackson repeatedly flushed three pigeons out of and off the shed while I was doing chores this morning. (He's figured out that they are "bad birds" and does his best to get them; if only he could fly!) Anyone know of someone with trained falcons for rent?

Instead of spinning last night, I stayed up late to watch Rechel. She was standing around with her tail out, but I never saw any contractions. Still no lambs this morning, although she slowly brought up the rear of the flock when I let them out to pasture.Valentine is developing quite the waddle now, too, even though she's three weeks from her due date. Her udder development so far is quite different from the other two; it's high and forward.

My favorites of our daffodils are finally opening up. The other varieties are pure and earnest heralds of spring; the Tahitis are the party girls!

That's it for now at . . .


~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...
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~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Cleaning up pigeon poop is not near as romantic as it might sound, although you do have a point about it being cheaper than windows, but you may end up with hospital bills... go to, click on the square at the top left, follow the FAQs link, then click on "Do pigeons carry disease?"

Michelle said...

Becky comes through with yet another justification for my husband's ballistic adventures! I'm afraid a lawsuit from the neighbors could be the most expensive of all, though, so maybe I can persuade him to try the poison....

Tammy said...

Hey Michelle,
Your ewes will torture you nonstop with all kinds of weird behavior until they lamb. Trust me, I know! ;-) However the best sign of impending delivery is once they 'drop'--their sides in front of their hip bones will cave in. It will be harder to tell since they are still in fleece, but it is the closets 'sure sign' I've found.
Hope all goes great!

Michelle said...

Tammy, that's part of the reason I'm watching her so close. Even in "full" fleece and coated, there is a noticeable hollow on both sides in front of her hips. (If you look closely at the second photo of Rechel, you can see the wrinkles in her coat there.) I'll keep you posted!

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

From what I have read, dissuading them from roosting is the prefered method of keeping the poo to a minimum. You can buy bird spikes that sit along the apex of the house or barn, or along rafters; they dont like to sit on a slope.

Ebonwald Cardigans said...

OH dear Michelle. My heart drops about reading how people still think pigeons are flying rats. As a breeder and promoter of domestic fancy/show pigeons for the past 15 years it amazes me at how such a smart and resourceful species can be hated on no matter how much one tries to correct the publics view of them.

Pigoen poop is just as bad as sparrow, swallow or whatever else, there is just more of it. Pigeons, sparrows et. al. species of birds not native to our continent that are so prolific find holes so tiny to get in its ridiculous. I've had sparrows getting into my pigeon lofts and they can't get back out. I've had to change the wiring after 15 years. Go figure.

On any note. A simple door would suffice, or closing the door, making windows with wiring so they cannot get in, etc. Make it impossible for them to get in there.

wild pigeons can carry diseases, as can healthy ones, but its usually initially brought on by rodents and other vermin, not the birds. wild birds eat and drink in less than nice locations (this includes your wild birds you are feeding at the window) that also carry disease. Just because they are pretty, doesn't mean they aren't carrying something, its not just the pigeons.

Simply don't allow the birds any sort of 'food' or shelter. Spilled grain, nesting matieral etc. What the lady said about the spike rails also works well...even for my racing homers so they do not sito n the roof of their OWN loft :)

Granted we live on a farm and have several pair of 'barn pigeons' but we simply close the silo doors, close the hay mow doors and windows and shut the quonset doors and we no longer have the problem.

ALL wild birds CAN carry disease. YOu'll probably get sick from the 200 sparrows that rest in your lilac bush before the pigeons.

Just my learned experiences over the last 15 years. I'm off my soapbox now! :) :)

Michelle said...

Garrett, I can sympathize with your soap box, as I get on the same one when someone "disses" starlings after I learned much more about them in "Arnie, the Darling Starling." Unfortunately, there is no possible way to discourage the pigeons from living here by limiting access; as you can see, our barn-shed is three-sided, and our barn has openings on the paddock side for good ventilation for the horses. Putting spike strips on all horizontal surfaces would be time and cost-prohibitive.

When Rick and I were dating/engaged, I spent a lot of time at his folks' place (he was "village," I was a dorm student). Rick learned his attitude about pigeons from his dad. I can remember being out there when his dad spotted pigeons and set out to get them with his shotgun. I'd silently pray for the pigeons -- and he never hit one while I was there! Hmm, I guess I have just reminded myself of a method I haven't tried here yet....

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Garrett, that nickname was brough up by me, and to me, it is just that, a nickname. Pigeons have just as much right to fly the skys as anyone else, but as you said, a spot of sparrow poo and a plop of pigeon poo are very different. No matter that they are both digested matter, pigeons run in larger groups (at least around here) and I can't say as I have ever seen a sparrow tear open a feed bag. JM2C

Lauren Dorsee Dillon said...

I'm not getting into the pigeon argument other than to say I like them (of course my friend karen says I have never met an animal I didn't like). I just wanted to say what lovely flashy daffodils you have! That little bit of deep orange yellow adds that extra je ne sais quoi. I like it!

Keep us posted on Rechel and tell Rick to stop shooting. He's got heavily pregnant women to consider. We wouldn't want them to get upset and drop a lamb prematurely.

Sharrie said...

Glad to see that someone else has windows with that type of decoration. The place we bought has many decorative spots. I'll be glad when we get the disgusting windows replaced. Your Rechel is adorable.

Unknown said...

Does it help your impression of pigeons if you think of them by their real name: rock dove? I actually delight in seeing (and especially hearing) mourning doves around here, and as a birdwatcher from way back, I just try to think of pigeons as another member of the dove family (which they are). (I used to work in Washington, DC, so I know what a mess they can create).

Michelle, it's interesting that you mention "Arnie, the Darling Starling." I read that book years ago, and it also changed my impression of starlings, yet they still aggravate the he** out of me when they try to take over the martin house (likewise the English--house--sparrows trying to run off the bluebirds). Ad still if it comes down to martin or bluebird vs. starling or sparrow, I know which I'd choose!

As for trying to rid oneself of pigeons, I'd be very hesitant to use poison on a farm with all sort of other critters running around. What if Jackson got hold of a carcass? And what would keep other species of birds from ingesting the poison? Jimmy has a pellet rifle he would like to use on the English sparrows around here (except generally no matter which direction he points the gun, there's some sort of critter--livestock of pet--in the way, and he's an expert marksman).

Encouraging hawks or owls would be one way of controlling the pigeons. Another would be a good barn cat. Both would be more environmentally sound than poison, although a barn cat may take out some of your favorite songbirds as well, and of course any hawk that can take a pigeon could take small poultry as well. Maybe one of those fake owls would help?

I do agree that poop of any sort can carry disease organisms, and pigeons are no greater carriers than any other avian species (you don't hear of great epidemics in our cities caused by pigeons, and the plague is attributed to land rats, not those in the air). That doesn't mean you have to put up with them if you don't want them, but there must be some alternatives you can try before resorting to poisons or shooting.

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

Barn kitties, spayed females so no spraying hay and every tarp or new item in your barn, work wonders.

Also, plastic owls, ravens, crows, hawks perched in your rafters.Find those at garden centers.

Wind spinners and socks, if you have wind, help. And they are pretty too! Decorative banners and flags are also a nice colorful touch.

There are even little boxes that transmit predatory sounds to help scare away birds...although myself I wouldn't want to listen to owls hooting and red tailed hawks screeching at all hours. We already have enough of those.

That might cut down on the population of visitors at least.