U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in Human-Wildlife Interactions (2011) 5:112-122.


Rock pigeons (Columba livia) have been implicated in the spread of pathogens within commercial livestock facilities. Currently, there is no data characterizing pigeon habitat use and movement patterns within and among commercial livestock facilities. To better understand the capacity for pigeons to spread pathogens, we used radio-telemetry techniques to estimate the home-range, travel distance, activity, and habitat use of pigeons roosting on and off dairies and feedlots in western Weld County, Colorado. Our observations suggest that pigeons roosting on (resident) and off (nonresident) livestock facilities use habitat differently. Nonresident pigeons used larger home-range areas than did resident pigeons. Nonresident pigeons traveled farther and frequented more livestock facilities than did resident pigeons. Both resident and nonresident pigeons disproportionally selected livestock facilities over other available foraging sites. We detected no difference in pigeon activities (i.e. loafi ng, feeding, drinking, fl ying) between resident and nonresident pigeons. Data suggest that nonresident pigeons may vector livestock pathogens among livestock facilities and resident pigeons may aid in the amplifi cation and maintenance of pathogens within livestock facilities. Thus, targeted management of pigeons may help mitigate the introduction and maintenance of pathogens that cause disease and economic loss within livestock facilities.