Guano is a broad term for the excremental waste that is produced by any individual species.
For the purposes of this article, the guano in question is that which is produced by the common pigeon.
In mainstream circles, you might be more familiar with the phrase ‘pigeon droppings’ or:’pigeon poop’ and guano is exactly that.
Is pigeon guano dangerous?
Other than the fact it makes a big mess that you have to clean up there are plenty of reasons why you may want to avoid pigeon poop.
- Histoplasmosis – This is a respiratory disease that in the most severe cases can be fatal. It stems from a fungus that can be found in dried bird droppings.
- Candidiasis – This is another fungus infection that can be spread by interaction with pigeon guano. With the potential for a particularly negative impact on women, this fungal problem can lead to problems with the skin, the mouth, the intestines, and even the urogenital tract.
- Cryptococcosis – This is caused by the yeast that is found within the intestinal tracts of pigeons and can cause an initial pulmonary complaint that in its most serious form can lead to major central nervous system damage.
- Salmonellosis – This ailment often comes in the form of classic ‘food poisoning’ but can often be traced back to an interaction with pigeon guano. For example, the bacteria formed on bird droppings can become dust that is then transferred through things like ventilators and air conditioners to contaminate food in homes and restaurants.
- E.coli – This is one of the most common infections caused by any bacteria that can be traced back to various kinds of fecal matter. When a bird leaves waste in any place that is subject to visits from humans, there is always a risk that this bacterium is going to be transferred from one ‘party’ to another and spread. For example, a pigeon could peck on cow manure in a field, and then unknowingly deposit their droppings in or around a human food or water supply.
Does pigeon guano have any uses?
Whilst it can be very dangerous to humans when encountered in the wrong environments, pigeon guano can have a very positive impact on places like gardens and vegetable patches.
One of the most common methods of pigeon guano disposal among keen gardeners is to use it as an ingredient in homemade fertilizer for flowering plants and crops.
This is something that has been part of agriculture for centuries, with evidence dating back as far as the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries that pigeon guano was among one of the most highly prized commodities among villagers in settlements.
Another popular use for old pigeon guano was as an ingredient in homemade gunpowder. This is due to the high levels of saltpetre in the droppings.
The next time you step in pigeon poop, you might give some thought as to what it is.