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California's Native Pigeons Are Perishing; Street Pigeons Believed To Blame

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— When most people think of pigeons, the common city street bird comes to mind, but there's a different kind of pigeon in California and it's at risk, according to environmental scientists.

Most of the Pacific Coast Band-tailed pigeons are dying specifically between San Francisco and San Diego. The stocky, reclusive bird is the state's only native pigeon. Its head is a beautiful purple accompanied by a yellow bill and legs.

Environmental scientists at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have identified a parasite as avian trichomoniasis, an organism that lives in the throat and mouth of the infected bird, which prohibits them from eating.

Dr. Jennifer Scarlett with the San Francisco SPCA said the street pigeon is thought to be the main source of infection for the bird.

"What happens is where there's lots of birds congregating, especially around bird feeders and watering holes, is where we'll see this transmit to the California native pigeon," Scarlett said.

While there aren't risks of transmission to other animals, the parasite can be transmitted to other birds such as raptors and hawks.

If you have a birdfeeder in your home's yard, officials ask that you clean them or even to get rid of them for the next few months.

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