Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 7:43 am | Fair 44º


Captain’s Log: Nesting Pigeons Run Afoul at Santa Barbara Harbor

Pigeons get my vote for the most stubborn birds around, but not for the brightest birds. A case in point is the ongoing battle between myself and my crew against a pair of pigeons who really want to build a nest aboard my charter boat.

A growing flock of pigeons occupies a space underneath a marina ramp at the Santa Barbara Harbor. It is a growing flock and has outgrown the number of nest-suitable spots under the ramp, so naturally they have scouted out and utilized other spots for nesting — including various boats in the neighborhood.

Now some of these boats rarely see their owners, who come down occasionally and become flabbergasted at the mess and stink they find and clean up. They clean up the mess and leave, and the pigeons begin anew — usually in the same spot.

My boat is used a lot because I run charters and because I like being at the harbor. Nevertheless, a pair of pigeons have decided that they really want to use my boat repeatedly for nesting. They are darned good at finding small hidden openings into interior spaces of the boat and then quietly building a nest and laying eggs. We countered by stuffing things into the holes, but they would peck and pull out the stuffing. What did work pretty well was to secure some fine-mesh webbing over entry spots. Still they found ways in, even when we were only away from the boat for a few days.

Once they had made a nest and laid eggs, they would reluctantly leave the boat when our charter groups showed up, and then when we returned to dock the birds would swoop in and land just a few feet away from me and act all impatient for us to leave. So I would just look at them and say, “Now look … I am what I am and you am what you am, and this just ain’t always going to go well.”

Their latest thing is finding a way into the stern underdecks area where my batteries are mounted. I know this because when I went to maintain my batteries recently I found a nest with two eggs sitting smack on top of my battery’s positive post. I told that bird I didn’t expect it to understand much about electricity, but I had to move the nest because that chick would probably glow in the dark if it hatched at all. So, I gently shooed away the bird and relocated the nest under a nearby walkway. The bird watched me do it so it knew where to go.

It has been a couple of days since I’ve been to the boat, and when I do go there, somehow I just know that these stubborn pigeons will be working away at re-nesting somewhere on my charter boat. Some time ago, we had a really cool dock cat who visited everyone’s boat regularly. Those little cat prints were easy enough to wash off and we never had problems with nesting pigeons.

I love most all critters, but I’m really beginning to miss that dock cat.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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