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Wood pigeons are often the worst bird pest in gardens and on allotments. They peck at leaves, tearing them, often just leaving the stalks larger leaf veins behind. Pigeons attack many plants, but particularly brassicas and peas.
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Pigeons are a bird pest of mainly agricultural crops, but can cause damage in gardens and allotments.
Pigeons attack a wide range of plants, but seem particularly keen on the leaves of brassicas (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflower), plus cherries, lilac and peas. They will peck at the leaves and rip off portions, often leaving just the stalks and larger leaf veins. They may also attack and strip buds, leaves and fruits from blackcurrants and other fruit bushes.
You may not see the pigeons actually attacking plants, as they often visit in early morning. This is some of the damage they cause:
Typical damage to cabbage caused by pigeons pecking and ripping of leaves.
Shooting can be effective but is often not a safe option in gardens or allotments. Scaring devices or repellent substances are likely to give, at best, only temporary protection. The only certain way of protecting vulnerable plants from pigeons is to grow them under netting.
Pigeons are present throughout the year but are particularly damaging during early summer when peas and brassica crops are developing. Pigeons are also a problem on winter brassicas, especially when snow or frost makes other vegetation unavailable. In winter, flocks of up to 50 birds can descend on allotments but, at other times, they are seen in smaller numbers.
Pigeons make their nests in trees and tall hedges, laying several clutches of usually two eggs during mid to late summer.
Image: © GWI/Dave Bevan. Available in high resolution at www.gardenworldimages.com
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© The Royal Horticultural Society 2011 / RHS Registered Charity № 222879/SC038262