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The Pigeon is about 33 cm in length and weighs between 280 and 560 g - average about 350 g. Its plumage can vary considerably, from a close resemblance to that of the original rock dove (with blue-grey plumage, double black wing bars and a white rump) through various "blues", "reds" and chequered types, to almost pure black. There are no visible differences between the sexes.
Much of the damage caused by Feral Pigeons arises from their infestation of buildings. Food stored in warehouses and processing plants may be eaten or contaminated and the machinery fouled.
Fouling of buildings and monuments frequently occurs at places where the birds nest or roost. This is not only unsightly but may also have a destructive effect as the acidic droppings can erode the surface of stonework. Gutters and drainpipes may become blocked, leading to flooding and associated problems. Pavements, ladders and fire escapes may be made unsafe because of the potential for slipping on droppings.
Pigeons must also be regarded as potential transmitters of disease, although there is a lack of hard evidence regarding the transmission of disease to humans. It is known that a high proportion of Feral Pigeons are infected with ornithosis (a mild form of psittacosis). Some have been shown to carry salmonellosis and, although the incidence is low, the public health hazard cannot be ignored, particularly in view of the birds' association with food premises.
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