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Pigeon-Related Diseases

Pigeon droppings that are not cleaned up can lead to modest health risks, including one of the following human diseases:

Each of these diseases is rare in New York, but there may be an increased risk between March and July, when pigeons usually breed.

Cleaning Up Pigeon Droppings

Whether you are cleaning up a small or large amount of droppings, you should take precautions to reduce direct contact. After you finish cleaning up the droppings, you should wash your hands and any exposed skin before eating or drinking.

If you have a compromised immune system, including from HIV/AIDS or cancer, you should not clean up droppings.

Small Amount of Droppings

A routine cleaning of droppings (such as from a windowsill) does not pose a serious health risk to most people. When cleaning, you should wear disposable gloves and clothes that can be washed.

Large Amount of Droppings

If you are planning a large clean-up of a structure, such as removing droppings from an air shaft, you should take protective measures to avoid health risks. Once the structure is cleaned, you should wash it regularly to prevent further accumulation of droppings.

To minimize your risks for getting a pigeon-related disease, you should take the following precautions:

  • Wear protective clothing, such as disposable coveralls, boots, and gloves. You can also wear a respirator to better protect yourself.
  • If you are using a high-powered water hose to strip off dried droppings, be sure to control the dust. You can use plastic sheeting to contain the area, or you can wet down the work area. This will prevent inhalation, reduce the risk of infection and prevent dust from spreading outside the work area.
  • You can avoid the risks of using a high-powered water hose by soaking the droppings in water and then shoveling them. Collect the wet material in heavy-duty plastic bags or other types of secure containers and discard it with the regular garbage.


Property owners are required to clean up pigeon droppings on or originating from their property. You can report excessive droppings and other unsanitary conditions caused by pigeons online through 311. You must provide the name and full address of the property owner for the City to take action.

It is not illegal to feed or keep pigeons. If someone is creating an unsanitary condition by keeping or feeding pigeons, you can make a complaint. You will need the name and complete address of the person housing or feeding the pigeons.

The City does not accept complaints about pigeon droppings at transit facilities, or about droppings from street lamps, telephone or utility poles, overpasses or bridges.

Additional Resources

For more information about pigeon-related diseases and the health risks of cleaning pigeon droppings:

More Information