Often cursed as the “rats of the sky”, city pigeons do not enjoy the best of reputations. Many people associate the birds with illnesses – wrongly so, according to animal welfare groups.

The health risks linked to pigeons are no greater than those of domestic pets or other captive and wild birds, says the German Animal Welfare Federation.

Rather than scaring away pigeons by stomping your feet, which is stressful for the animals, activists are urging city dwellers to show more respect for the feathered friends.

Those who feed pigeons with bread chunks or meat leftovers are also not doing them any favours.

Such food is not good for the birds because it is often missing important nutrients. Grains are best for pigeons to consume. – dpa