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Effects of acid pigeon excreta on building conservation

Dirk H.R. Spennemann (Institute for Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia)
Melissa Pike (School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Thurgoona, Australia)
Maggie J. Watson (Institute for Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia)

International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation

ISSN: 2398-4708

Article publication date: 10 April 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Birds are implicated in spoiling and decay of buildings, especially through their droppings. Pigeons are considered the main culprits, and several studies have examined the effects and chemistry of accumulations of droppings without evidence to the exact origins of the source of the excreta. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study reviews and summarises the state of knowledge with regard to the impact of bird excreta on buildings. It experimentally assesses the acidity of fresh pigeon excreta with different diets and examines the development of the acidity of the excreta after voiding.

Findings

Feral pigeons in urban settings are known to be fed by a range of foods. Urban food scraps-derived diets produce more acidic excreta than more natural diets such as seeds. This is a first study of its kind to examine the impact of a bird’s diet on the pH and thus the resulting (potential) decay of masonry.

Research limitations/implications

This study showed that from a management’s perspective, pigeons that subsist entirely on human provided foods will be depositing more initially acidic faeces. If faecal accumulation occurs; then, mould and other bacteria quickly alter the chemistry from acidic towards basic, but the damage may already be done.

Originality/value

This paper is the first study of its kind to examine the effects of fresh pigeon droppings of known origin and age once voided from the intestine. This allows the authors to assess the impact during the first few days.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Ethics approval: the experiment was approved by the Animal Care and Ethics Committee, Charles Sturt University, protocol number A16005.

The authors are indebted to Graham Barber (Albury Wodonga Homing Pigeon Club) for the facilitation the collection of excreta from his birds, and Wayne Robinson (School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University) for assistance with statistical analyses.

Citation

Spennemann, D.H.R., Pike, M. and Watson, M.J. (2017), "Effects of acid pigeon excreta on building conservation", International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 2-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJBPA-09-2016-0023

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited