Irving Park

Pigeon problem plagues Irving Park Blue Line stop

Droppings cover the sidewalk as dead pigeons lay trapped in the wires above

NBC Universal, Inc.

Commuters who frequent the Irving Park Blue Line stop are no strangers to dodging pigeon droppings on their way to work.

The stop sits underneath the Kennedy Expressway on Irving Park Road and North Keystone Avenue. For years, residents say pigeons have littered the area.

“They have some netting around here, but they seem to get around it somehow," said Miguel Torres, who visits the stop daily to get to work. “There’s a lot of them there, and pigeon poop everywhere so you got to be careful and make sure there’s nothing above you.”

Wednesday was no different. Dozens of pigeons could be seen on the ground and on the rafters, with sidewalk covered in droppings.

"It’s gross," said Vero Smith, who also walks through the area often. “It’s embarrassing. It’s a gross stop and I don’t think it needs to be that way, our neighborhood is so great and I wish more people could have this wonderful experience getting off the Blue Line, going to the cool restaurants and brewery that are close by and not having to worry about their shoes.”

Smith said there's another potential problem that adds to the pigeon pandemonium, as some people have been feeding the birds.

“I have seen people come and feed them and I don’t know why. Pigeons are scavengers and well adapted to urban environments. They can feed themselves, please don’t feed them," she said. “The person that I’ve seen feed them gets out of a car, which is honestly more ironic and infuriating because they don’t even use this stop then.”

Torres has also encountered a feeder.

"I was waiting for the bus and she threw the crumbs right next to me and they just came to me," he said. "You’re not supposed to feed them.”

Feeding pigeons is illegal in the City of Chicago under the illegal dumping municipal code 728-710, and offenders can face a $500 fine if caught. NBC Chicago news crews could tell a sign nearby the stop used to say "Do Not Feed Pigeons"; however it's completely faded and needs replacing.

The stop is split between the 39th Ward to its north and 45th Ward to its south. The Chicago Transit Authority oversees a small portion of the underpass, but said the Illinois Department of Transportation is in charge of the rest.

The city offered the following statement to NBC Chicago:

  1. The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) crews clean the streets and sidewalks under and near the viaduct regularly and in response to 311 requests.
  2. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) does not currently fabricate “Do Not Feed Pigeons” signage.
  3. IDOT is in charge of viaduct maintenance and the netting.

IDOT offered a statement to NBC Chicago as well:

"An IDOT crew will be on site [Thursday] to inspect the netting under the bridge structure. The sidewalks are not IDOT jurisdiction, you may want to check with the City of Chicago regarding those. We will continue to monitor, but we believe efforts to reduce the pigeon population have not been helped due to area residents feeding them."

Ald. Jim Gardiner's office shared a post from Aug. 10 with NBC Chicago, showing sanitation workers hosing off the sidewalks. Residents were grateful, but said it was a temporary fix. They hope more can be done to prevent the unsettling sight.

"I don’t know what they can do, but it’d be nice if they can fix it," Torres said.

Contact Us