Are bird spikes a humane way to deal with problem pigeons?
It was not a good day for Rachel Belway. The Ottawa woman arrived at her Somerset Street office to find more than one dead or injured bird around the building.
One, an injured pigeon, was bleeding and appeared to have a damaged wing. Belway believes that newly-installed bird spikes are to blame.
Bird spikes are a series of long, sharp wires jutting up from surfaces on which birds like to land and possibly nest. They are legal, common in many cities, and often recommended as a humane way to deter problem birds. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources recommends them as one of many ways to deal with problem pigeons.
But Belway thinks the pigeon flew into the spikes and became injured. “I think it's animal cruelty. I don't see how they're less special than any other bird" she says.
It’s a possible scenario, says one pest control expert. Birds fly into things all the time. Another bird specialist says the spikes might not even be the problem. "There's a lot of things that can hurt pigeons, especially downtown. It could have hit a window. It could have been hit by a car" says Mae Goguen of the Ottawa Wild Bird Care Centre.
But the pigeon wasn’t the only bird tragedy for Rachel Belway. On another side of the building, away from the spikes, she found three dead young birds on the sidewalk. She believes they had been knocked out of a nearby nest. If that’s true, it could be illegal. "If a nest has eggs, at that point it becomes illegal to move them” says Goguen.
There’s nothing Rachel Belway can do about the baby birds. But she maintains the bird spikes will do more harm than good. She wants them removed.