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Pigeons in Urban Areas

The city pigeon - Columba Livia - is a descendant of the European rocks pigeon that, in the old days, was kept in captivity (in cages) for domestic consumption, getting used to live with humans.

In the cities, the ecological balance is achieved when the number of birds is less than one fifth of the resident human population. The situation becomes problematic and damages the ecological balance of species and fellowship with mankind, when its number is higher due to the combination of several factors:

• Change of diet due to the abundance and easy access to food, improperly given by the population, or available in the public space or containers;

• Abundance of locations for nesting;

• Permanent light, which alters the biological rhythm of the species.

In order to keep the ecological balance of the pigeons population in the city, Lisboa City Council undertakes activities that combine prevention with the corrective action of critical situations:

• In municipal buildings, measures to decrease locations for nesting and potential health hazard outbreaks;

• Captures, according to a schedule and sending samples of captured pigeons to the National Institute for Agricultural and Veterinary Research (INIAV) for research of pathogens, including viruses of the "bird flu";

• Development of awareness actions to the population;


• Awareness actions, individual and for groups, and diffusion of information through various suports - See here Flyer "Pigeons in Lisboa".

Urban pigeons (Columba livia) are descendants of European rock pigeons. Since ancient times, they have been used as pets kept in captivity (in cages) for domestic consumption.



•   Small girth (32 cm)

•   Build - 60 to 65 cm

•   Grey Head

•   Orange eyes

•   Neck with green reflections

•   Grey wings

•   Tail with black bar

•   Feeding: grains, seeds and small molluscs

They are granivorous birds and can feed on a wide variety of seeds and grains.

The health hazards caused by pigeons in the city are public health risks through the transmission of pathogens in birds.

Contact with feces, feathers and ectoparasites can cause allergy problems, whether in the respiratory level or other. They can also transmit diseases such as Salmonelose, Criptococose, Ornitose, especially to the most vulnerable population groups (children, elderly citizens and immunosuppressed people).