No one knows for certain how many pigeons there are in New York depending on the method used estimates vary from as little as 425,000 to more than 18 million!
One Pigeon Per Person
There is one theory is that there is one pigeon per person in most big cities including New York City.
There are more than 18 million people in NYC so this would suggest that there are at least 18 million pigeons in the city.
Furthermore, the upward demographic slant would mean growing numbers of pigeons.
This theory makes sense as cities are havens for pigeons. The more people that inhabit a city the more opportunities there are for pigeons to find food and places to nest.
New York seems to be purposely built with pigeons in mind. It’s like a Mecca for them. All those high-rise buildings hark back to their ancestory as rock doves when they inhabited coastal cliffs.
City slicker pigeons have adapted to human food consumption. America is the birthplace of fast food, after all. With all those millions of people eating every day, it’s an ongoing open buffet.
So the one pigeon per person theory could be a reasonable estimate of the number of pigeons in New York.
However some ornithologists believe a figure closer to one pigeon per every two people is more realistic, this would give a figure of around 9 million pigeons in New York.
Many people think that there seem to be far more pigeons than people in New York, it’s impossible to guess accurately as it’s not very easy to do a survey of pigeons!
Pigeons Per 100m²
To make some sense of the numbers involved try to imagine how many pigeons a single restaurant, or maybe a hotdog stand, could support and make an average of restaurants per block and then multiple by the number of blocks there are in the city.
This method has been used to estimate the number of pigeons in London.
London was split up into a grid with each area being 100 square metres. 100 of these grid areas were randomly sampled, counting the number of pigeons at a selected time on a random day.
The average across the selected grids was then multiplied by the number of grids, giving an estimate of the total number of pigeons in the city.
This number came out to be 850,000 pigeons in London.
London has a population of 9.43 million.
New York has a population of 18.82 million people. London covers an area of 1,572 square kilometres. New York covers an area of 783.8 km².
So if you extrapolate, like for like with London having ~541 pigeons per km², New York would logically be home to ~425,000 pigeons.
This is a radically different number from the pigeon per person method.
This demonstrates exactly how difficult it is to come up with a figure for the number of pigeons in New York – or any city.
The true number of pigeons in New York City probably lies somewhere inbetween the two estimates.
Whatever the numbers are, they don’t seem to be shrinking. Many methods have been tried to reduce their numbers, but nothing has worked.
Most cities, including New York, have tried introducing predators such as falcons but it is always doomed to failure. All they end up with are fat and satisfied falcons and millions of smug pigeons.