Monday, March 10, 2008

Nature’s Cleaners

a pigeon reading a book entitled 'how to shit on humans' Pigeons in Wanstead High Street
1. There are two main flocks of these birds - neither flock has numbers that the area cannot support.
2. There are a number of paired birds and other small groups perhaps more promiscuous than the braces.
3. I noticed that a number of the people sitting at the cafe' tables attracted some of these birds - with the people observing and lightly-feeding (with cafe' food) the birds.
4. Most of Wanstead High Street has, at some point of my 2-hour visit, wandering pigeons feeding on scraps (mostly discarded by people) of potato chips, crisps, cake and various take-away foods.
5. Neither the pigeons, nor the discarded food-waste were excessive (if compared with other such places).
6. Investigating the obvious pigeon roosting places, faeces have accumulated, however this may appear more noticeable due to the lack of rain recently.
7. Investigating the pigeon roosting places on buildings and residencies in the area - it is apparent that bird-spikes and bird deterrent materials, in some cases facilitate nesting rather than deterring pigeons and some other birds.
8. Bird faeces on the buildings or on the areas beneath the roosts can in no way be considered excessive, however, some buildings seem not to maintain the areas surrounding their buildings - the means of cleansing needs little more than a bucket of water with disinfectant added and a stiff brush. There are only a couple of accumulated faecal piles, and these can be removed very easily by a diligent cleaning.
9. I also noticed that a number of pigeons - appeared from places other than the High Street buildings - as this is a nesting period for these and other birds - most of the flocks disperse in the evenings. It is my opinion that the pigeons, most eagerly feeding from cafe' customers or discarded food materials may have nestlings - this is indicated by the full-crops of the pigeons when leaving the High Street.
10. All bird droppings including the Crow, Magpie - are readily cleared by rain or in some cases by the road-cleansing manoeuvres of the Council Maintenance Staff.
11. In summary, Wanstead High Street has no greater number of waste feeding birds than any other area which supports such a wide diversity of cafe's and take-away establishments. If these outlets were reduced, it is a fair supposition that these "Nature's Cleaners" would, also be reduced. An extra Natural Cleaner (seen after dusk and through the night) are fox, who can be seen feeding on a greater quantity of Take-Away foods, human vomit, between the hours of 9-pm and into the early hours.
12. If culling of these birds or fox were to take place in Wanstead High Street in the present conditions of hygiene and waste distribution, it is my opinion that it is inevitable that other Natural Cleaning species would increase. This problem may only be solvable by education of the people who distribute most of the waste these Natural Cleaners feed upon.
13. There have been many attempts to address this issue - but I have seen no solution that will work, given the massive human input to this problem of waste food distribution.

Survey carried out for two hours – during shopping hours on Saturday 8th March 2008, with one hour from 11pm to midnight.
Richard Cooper


  1. In other words it's all about the food chain. It is gratifying therefore to learn from this post that in Redbridge (ie in Wanstead) there is a ready supply of one of the essential ingredients for making pigeon pie. Not yet prepared, however, to sample roast leg of fox.

  2. Free range in more than one sense!

  3. Absolutely right Richard, If you eradicate one species another will come along, rats etc. Thanks for doing this survey, very interesting.
    Ron King

  4. You are correct to note that people are a problem by leaving food waste behind which attracts pigeons. Deterrent methods such as spikes do work, but u must place them everywhere otherwise the birds will find another place to nest. They are smart. Finally, it should be noted that cleaning up bird droppings by hand can be dangerous. Breathing in the spores of droppings can lead to potentially fatal diseases such as histoplasmosis. Investing in eco friendly and animal safe bird deterrent products to remove birds from the area is the best and safest solution.

  5. Yes - and some of the rats will be four-legged ones!