Vancouver police share 'nest' of needles photo to highlight overdose crisis

A widely-shared image from the Vancouver police showing three eggs in a dirty sink full of needles may show the "sad reality of the opioid crisis," but a pigeon expert says it doesn't look like a nest as described.

"Pigeons spotted making a nest out of #needles in a #DTES SRO room," tweeted Supt. Michelle Davey on Wednesday.

"Sad reality of the #opioidcrisis ... #notstaged."

Vancouver police said the image was captured by the department's homeless outreach coordinator on Tuesday.

It was taken inside a vacant room in a single-room occupancy building in the Downtown Eastside, said Staff Sgt. Randy Fincham in a statement.

"The picture was shared with the public to show the reality of drug use ... and to provide a rare glimpse into the lives of first responders, health care providers and others involved in the opioid crisis."

The overdose crisis, largely fuelled by the presence of highly-toxic fentanyl in street drugs, is killing four people on average every day in B.C.

Last week, B.C. Emergency Health Services responded to 130 suspected overdoses in a single day, breaking the record set in November.

Looks 'like a fake' says ecologist

While the overdose problem is very real, the dean of the Faculty of Science at the Université du Québec à Montréal doesn't think the "nest" is.

Luc-Alain Giraldeau, a behavioural ecologist who has researched and authored a book on pigeons, said three eggs is the wrong number for a pigeon.

"Pigeons are determinate layers and always, always lay only 2 eggs," wrote Giraldeau to CBC News.

"So this is definitely not a pigeon nest."

There is the rare report of a three-egg clutch, but Giraldeau notes another missing ingredient in the bed of needles.

"Real pigeon nests are covered with feces, there is very little here. This does definitely looks like a fake."

Fincham didn't comment on the eggs, or where they came from, and the officer who took the picture was not available for an interview.

He said the photo was shared "to start a conversation ... about the harm reduction efforts of first responders, and the need for treatment options for substance users."