Pigeons, Venice

34 Reviews

  • San Marco Piazza - Tourists and pigeons
    San Marco Piazza - Tourists and pigeons
    by suvanki
  • San Marco Piazza - Tourist and pigeons
    San Marco Piazza - Tourist and pigeons
    by suvanki
  • Pigeons
    by suvanki

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  • sourbugger's Profile Photo

    Flying rats

    by sourbugger Written Aug 10, 2009

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    Many tourists seem to delight in feeding the local pidgeons. Some even lie flat on the ground in St Mark's square and somewhat bizzarely cover themeselves in crumbs.

    Well, each to their own but pidgeons have been known to carry Chiamdiosis, a virus similar to influenza, and Psittacosis, similar to pneumonia.

    Your choice.

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  • suvanki's Profile Photo

    Pigeons - What is their attraction????

    by suvanki Updated Apr 26, 2009

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    Another reason for my preference to visit Piazza San Marco at night time is that there are NO PIGEONS flying around! (They're still there, but not at ground level!)
    I can't understand why they are encouraged to gather in the square, by having vendors selling bags of seed, so that tourists can feed the vermin, and even attract them to settle on their heads and hands for photographs and amusement.

    For those trying to view the sights of Piazza San Marco, or just trying to pass through, it is fraught with pigeons refusing to budge from by your feet, to flocks of these winged rats suddenly taking off a few inches from your head, flapping their wings and dropping feathers (and worse!!!) onto those below.
    Although I try not to get too close, it's not hard to see that most of these birds look unhealthy, with parts of their claws and wings missing, strange lumps and bumps, and dirty oily looking feathers.
    These creatures are Feral pigeons, (aka city doves, city pigeons or street pigeons), and are derived from domestic pigeons that have returned to the wild. The domestic variety
    was originally bred from the wild Rock Pigeon, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains.
    All three types readily interbreed. Feral pigeons find the ledges of buildings to be a substitute for sea cliffs, and have easily adapted to Urban life.

    Besides the nuisance of them gathering in large numbers - estimates of 13,000 birds per day flying through this square alone, they are a health hazard and are proven to be causing damage to the structure of the historic buildings.

    These feral pigeons carry ticks and mites, and cause lung diseases and salmonella (particularly at risk are children and the elderly) One of my work colleagues was hospitalised last year with a near fatal viral pneumonia. She'd returned from a weekend break in Venice, and although she'd avoided the pigeons as much as possible (due to a slight phobia), had spent some time in Piazza San Marco. The consultant pin pointed this as the cause of her illness.
    The pigeons have been shown not to be carriers of the Avian bird flu though.

    The sheer weight of roosting birds on the ledges of buildings and the high acid content of their excrement has contributed to the gradual erosion of the stonework.
    Apparently thousands of tonnes of bird faeces are created here each day!

    Pigeons breed when the food supply is good—for wild rock doves this might be seasonally so they usually breed once a year. In the urban environment, because of their year-round food supply, feral pigeons will breed continuously, laying eggs up to six times a year.

    Scavenging discarded food from bins outside restaurants and shops oh and bread and seed from tourists provide a continual banquet.

    Short term attempts to reduce the numbers in other cities include casting nets to catch the pigeons, introducing predators such as hawks and peregrine falcons that feed on the birds and their eggs, introducing contraceptive medicine to their feed and poison.

    The most effective method has been in food reduction, as this cuts down the population safely and humanely over a period of a few years.

    Since April 2008, it has been illegal to feed the pigeons in Piazzo San Marco, with fines being issued to tourists flouting this law ($80-$700)

    The seed vendors have apparently been banned from the Piazza (with reports of possible compensation and/or concessionary licences to sell souvenirs etc instead of bird seed)

    During my recent visit at Christmas 2008, I wasn't aware that this law had come into effect, though I knew there had been threats for a long time.

    Well there were as many pigeons in the Piazza, and as many tourists strewn with them on their bodies posing for photographs! I can't remember if there were any seed vendors there or not though!

    So is my photo of the little girl cute or a horror pic?

    Cute or Horrific? Seed Seller Piazza San Marco 2006 San Marco Piazza - Tourist and pigeons San Marco Piazza - Tourists and pigeons
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  • Fam.Rauca's Profile Photo

    Too much pigeons are tiresome for the city

    by Fam.Rauca Written Apr 22, 2009

    It is delightful to give food to a few pigeons if you are in Venice.
    However, it is tiresome if too many pigeons exist.
    The tourists buy grains, directly at the place, and like to feed the pigeons.
    At the present, that is forbidden because too many birds destroy the art pieces and the facades of the buildings.

    Too much pigeons are tiresome for the city Too much pigeons are tiresome for the city Too much pigeons are tiresome for the city Too much pigeons are tiresome for the city Too much pigeons are tiresome for the city

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  • csordila's Profile Photo

    Please, don't feed them!

    by csordila Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Piazza San Marco is also home to hoards of pigeons, according to statistical almanacs in a number of between 50000 - 150000. Feeding them is one of the main tourist attractions in San Marco, however, pigeon waste damages the historic sites, is a rising danger to people by transferring parasites and bacteria and is costly to clean up.

    In hope of keeping Venice cleaner and preserving its historic monuments from 2008 the city of Venice has banned pigeon feeding altogether, it has been a crime and will be fined with 500 Eu.

    Don't feed them! Licensed seller of birdseed
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  • stoogy's Profile Photo

    Dirty water and pigeons

    by stoogy Written May 5, 2007

    The water in all canals of wenice is very dirty with very unpleasant smell. Be aware that your kids don't touch the water. It's full of bacteria. When you walk in Piazza S. Marco use your umbrella because you don.t wan't pigeons *** on your hair or close!

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  • pgj579's Profile Photo

    Pigeons at San Marco

    by pgj579 Written Feb 4, 2007

    The Pigeons at San Marco are ridiculous! For some reason, people are fascinated by them, and actually feed them! I would think people would realize that pigeon's are rats with wings, and not want their kids around them.

    Who'd want their kids playing with winged rats?

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  • skywalkerbeth's Profile Photo

    Rats with wings!

    by skywalkerbeth Written Oct 7, 2006

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    I am putting this here because pigeons can bring diseases. Yes, the pictures are lovely. Yes, it's so quintessentially Venetian to have hordes of the flying rats in St. Mark's square. how pretty!

    But remember:

    Pigeons + kids = cute cute cute.

    Pigeons - kids = damn ***ting birds.

    don't touch them and don't let them land on you! I cringe when I see people with them on their arms or even their head.

    I can't remember who told me this now, but they admitted that after the birds experience they had a strange rash for a while. So please avoid them! yech.

    real or not? more birds than you can shake a stick at argh!  what not to do.

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  • Marpessa's Profile Photo

    Killer Seagulls!

    by Marpessa Written Nov 13, 2005

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    My friends and I were eating dinner at a cafe just next to the Cathedral on Piazza San Marco (one of the cheaper ones that caters to tourists). We had just finished our main course and were looking around, and noticed that in amongst all the pigeons in the area was a lone seagull. At first we were like 'Oh! Look a seagull!' (because after seeing hundreds of pigeons in the piazza it's nice to see something different).

    Unfortunately (for us and the pigeon) at this moment the seagull decided to turn and savagely attack one of the nearby pigeons. It attacked it, killed it, and then started to eat it. I couldn't watch, but my friends were giving me a running commentary on what was happening. The waiters at the restaurant were also watching in surprise - so at the very least, it did not seem that this was a common occurrence in Venice ( I hope not - the only time I have ever felt sorry for a pigeon!).

    So while in Venice, just beware the killer seagull!

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  • kazander's Profile Photo

    Pidgeons at Piazza San Marco

    by kazander Updated Nov 10, 2005

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    The pidgeons are everywhere! For some strange reason, it's a big touristy thing to do, to buy feed for them. It's for sale by vendors right in the square. As soon as some unsuspecting "feeder" opens their little bag of seed, these guys swarm around them. I have seen them land on peoples arms, shoulders and even their heads. I would think this would be most unsanitary. I wouldn't want to spend any amount of time with pidgeon poop on my person....

    comin at ya!
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  • BerniShand's Profile Photo


    by BerniShand Written Oct 23, 2005

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    Watch out ! they are everywhere
    its like walking through a sea of feathers, they are fearless and they expect you to feed them
    people were covering themselves in them !
    with the rise of Avian Flu cases I wonder will people still do this, at the best of times they are incredibly dirty birds and carry germs, and should be avoided by people with respiratory problems
    perhaps its best to keep away from them for a while, at least you wont have to wash all your clothes to get rid of the smelly pigeon poop

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  • sue_stone's Profile Photo

    Don't look up!

    by sue_stone Written Apr 10, 2005

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    Piazza San Marco is one of the most magnificent squares in Italy....the only downside is the huge number of pigeons here!!

    Tourists are the ones that feed them....and let these rats with wings climb all over them....eeeuuuuwwww!!

    Be warned, when you visit the Piazza you are in grave danger of being pooed on by a pigeon....one may even land on you if you are really lucky...not.

    They especially like people with bald heads!

    Please don't feed them....the pigeons I mean!

    the pigeon ate his hair - look out! low flying pigeons rats with wings? look at the all there we so many people were tripping over them!
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  • nicolettart's Profile Photo

    Pigeons at San Marco

    by nicolettart Written Feb 28, 2005

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    What is the hype about all the pigeons?Oh, and please don't refer to them as doves! I guess for some people it's part of the Venetian experience to be photographed with the pigeons, and fun for the kids. Warning: if you have ever seen Hitchcock's "The Birds", this may not be the place for you.

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  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo

    Pigeons & bad odour

    by croisbeauty Written Feb 25, 2005

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    No metter of its indisputable beauty, Venice can make you feel uncomfortable. When stroling around you might be choked by very bad odour, coming out from chanels network, especially if those short and narrow. There are places in the city where this bad odour is almost unbearable.
    Another danger are thousands of pigeons (flying mouses), which are "bombing" us from above and there is nothing you can do about.

    Piazza San Marco
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    by SwedishViking Written Jan 30, 2005

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    Beware of snipers; they are every where in Venice…
    The doves sit and wait for the perfect target (you) and drops it load of “dove napalm” in your head.
    Wear a hat and don’t look up with your mouth open, OK?

    The Snipers of Venice...

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  • CindyInItaly's Profile Photo

    Feeding the pigeons

    by CindyInItaly Written Oct 17, 2004

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    Everybody knows about the pigeons in St. Mark's Square, and some criticize those who buy the seed to feed them, saying it only causes the problem of birds to worsen. What people don't know is that the problem of too many birds has gotten a lot better than they once were. The seed sold at the stands actually contains birth control that helps control the over-population of pigeons. You can purchase a bad of seed for 1 Euro. Be aware that feeding the pigeons anything other than the seed purchased is illegal and you can be fined if caught.

    Feeding the Pigeons
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