Barcelona pigeons take the pill


In order to control the population of pigeons, the city hall of Barcelona has set up a system of sterilization of the birds, via anti-contraceptive food.

Photo: Laura Guerrero/Ajuntament

With 103,226 individuals at the last census, we can say that the pigeons are also from Barcelona. There are about 1700 per square kilometer, four times more than what is recommended.

Faced with this disproportionate proportion, the town hall of Barcelona has developed a strategy that can make people smile: give the pigeons the pill. This is not a joke, but what is currently in place to control the population through sterilization. This systemin place since 2017, has allowed the installation of feeders dispensing anti-contraceptive food, based on corn and nicarbazin.

Currently, Barcelona has 44 feeders of this type for 36 colonies of pigeons. They are located in places where the birds are the most numerous or disturb the most, such as just behind the Boqueria market.

Thanks to this strategy, the population of pigeons at the places where the anticontraceptive was given was reduced by 60% in 5 years. It is therefore a very effective way of controlling the number of pigeons in Barcelona, ​​while being “ethical and respectful”, affirms the town hall: no capture is necessary.

Barcelona pigeons, a potential health risk

If the population of pigeons must be closely monitored in Barcelona, ​​it is above all for health reasons: these birds, like other animals, can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans, and the more numerous they are, the more the risk increases. In addition, pigeons can damage street furniture or buildings, because of their nests or their droppings. And in agricultural areas, the animal can also ruin part of the harvest.

Moreover, the pigeons seem to bother the people of Barcelona more and more. Complaints about these birds have increased by 67% between 2020 and 2021, with no less than 1504 complaints last year. A large part of them concerns the people who supply them on the public highway.

Photo: Edu Bayer/Ajuntament

These “feeders” of pigeons are also in the crosshairs of the town hall: according to the authorities, it is largely because of too abundant and too accessible food that pigeons proliferate beyond reasonable limits. . The city of Barcelona therefore calls not to feed these animals, and has even launched a program for neighborhood agents, specialized educators and police to identify people who feed too much and too often to pigeons. “The objective is to interact with people so that they reduce or even stop this activity”, knowing that feeding the pigeons is not prohibited by law.

But even if the town hall seems to do everything to limit the number of pigeons, it insists: there is no question of making them disappear from Barcelona. They “constitute an added value to the beauty of any city”, when their population is controlled, they do not carry diseases and do not disturb where they are. “Their flights and their cooings embellish the squares and gardens and are as much a way of having fun for the children as a restful decoration for the elderly. Pigeons, like dogs and cats, did not invade the cities, it was us, the inhabitants, who at one time or another contributed to their living among us.” To better cohabit with the pigeons, it is therefore better not to feed them, so that they take their pill well.

Read also: Will the animals of Barcelona disappear?

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