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Wood pigeons can cause a lot of damage to plants in gardens and allotments. They peck at leaves, tearing them, often just leaving the stalks and larger leaf veins behind. Pigeons will feed on many plants, lilac, brassicas and peas are particularly susceptible.
Wood pigeon on lawn
Pigeons are often a cause of agricultural crop losses, but they can cause damage in gardens and allotments.
Pigeons feed on a wide range of plants, but seem particularly keen on the leaves of brassicas (such as broccoli, sprouts, cabbages and cauliflower), 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 feeding on plants, as they often visit in early morning. This is some of the damage they cause:
The only certain way of protecting vulnerable plants from pigeons is to grow them under netting or in a fruit cage. Scaring devices or repellent substances are likely to give, at best, only temporary protection. Larger plants such as established lilacs will usually recover from pigeon damage and so it can be tolerated.
Additional information on living with pigeons can be obtained from the RSPCA
Pigeons are present throughout the year but are particularly active in gardens during early summer when peas and brassica crops are developing. Pigeons are also feed 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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