Poisoned pigeons found in Bend

Video: Pigeon showing signs of pesticide

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin / @DylanJDarling

Published Jan 30, 2014 at 08:57PM / Updated Jan 30, 2014 at 10:41PM

A pair of pigeons were found possibly poisoned Monday in downtown Bend, according to an animal rehabilitator.

The first bird was found having seizures near Strictly Organic Coffee Co. on Southwest Colorado Avenue early Monday afternoon and the second was found about an hour later near Amity Creek Magnet School on Broadway Street, said Jeannette Bonomo, one of the founders of High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Bend.

The second bird wasn’t spooked as people approached and by the time it made it to the rehabilitation center, it was suffering from tremors.

While killing pigeons is legal in Oregon, Bonomo said other options could be used to drive away the birds.

Both birds were likely poisoned with a pesticide designed to cause epileptic-like twitching in pest birds that will scare off their flock, she said. Bonomo used to live in Boulder, Colo., and said she treated many poisoned pigeons there.

“I can recognize the symptoms very quickly,” she said. Bonomo said she helped with an effort to ban the pesticide in Boulder.

She said there are more humane options out there for people contending with pigeons.

These range from repellents based on grape seed extract to perch deterrents, such as netting, coils and spikes. Scarecrows, particularly plastic owls, hawks or cats, can also be effective if they hang on a line, so they’ll move in the wind.

In Bend, and all around Oregon, there is no ban on pesticide use on pigeons. Domestic pigeons are considered non-wildlife, said David Lane, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Salem, so there are no protections for the birds.

Pigeons, also known as rock doves or rock pigeons, are not native to the state. The birds were introduced from Europe to North America in the 1600s, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website.

But just because the birds aren’t native and can be a pest doesn’t mean they should be poisoned, Bonomo said.

“No species should die this way,” she said.

On its website, Avitrol, a Tulsa, OK., company that makes a pesticide aimed at ridding pest birds, says the animals don’t feel any pain when affected by their product. The company also says some birds that eat Avitrol will die. The pesticide may be used for a host of birds, including crows, cowbirds and pigeons. The press office at Avitrol did not return a phone message for comment.

Of the two birds treated by Bonomo, one died and the other was still on the mend Thursday. Bonomo said to get the birds to eat the poison, regular bird seed is put out for a couple days, then is replaced by seed mixed with the pesticide. How strong the effects are on the bird depend on how much poison they eat.

“The (first) bird must have ingested a lot of it,” she said.

—Reporter: 541-617-7812; ddarling@bendbulletin.com.

Animal rescue

To report or bring in an injured animal to High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Bend, call 541-241-8680.