Feeding birds at your home is an enjoyable activity. Yet, it can create problems if pigeons decide to join in. Pigeons become pests that dominate feeding areas and nest in inconvenient areas of homes and buildings.
Deterring pigeons can also make other birds flee, yet there are many strategies that you can implement to get rid of this pest.
To scare away pigeons but not other birds you can install barriers such as netting, wire cages, and anti-bird spikes that keep the larger pigeon away. Other tactics such as sprayed water, sticky substances, and keeping your yard litter-free help to keep pigeons away.
Read on to learn more about the many ways to keep pigeons away, yet allow small birds to still visit your home.
15 Methods To Scare Away Pigeons
Pigeons (Columbidae) are larger birds, and their size and presence can scare off smaller birds.
They also love to eat bird seed and will become dominant in feeding areas, inviting their pigeon friends to join in.
Pigeons can cause issues such as the following:
- Damage to vegetation and gardens
- Messy droppings may bring in harmful fungi, parasites, and bacteria
- Extensive amounts of droppings can pose a slip hazard
- Bird mites like warm, moist conditions, and are found near pigeon nesting areas and droppings
- Fire risks since pigeons will use cigarette butts to keep mites away from their nests
- They don’t differentiate if the cigarette is still smoking
- Nests that block drains and gutters, resulting in damage and consequently, repairs
- Potential attacks if pigeons are protecting their young
- Noisy group cooing and flapping of wings, especially inside structures
As a result, a flock of pigeons becomes a nuisance, and it is possible to deter this pest safely without causing harm to them.
Pigeons fly together in flocks to avoid danger or a predator. Therefore if your yard or home is deemed unsafe or unsuitable, they will likely collectively leave as a group.
Keep In Mind
It is illegal to harm birds according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This means you cannot kill, injure, harm eggs, or disturb an active nest.
If pigeons are already nesting, you will need to wait until the hatchlings have successfully left before using any deterrents.
Never use poison. It not only illegally kills birds, but if another animal consumes the dead bird, it will cause more illegal animal death.
Keep in mind that pigeons may become used to any of the methods you have put in place. In this case, it may be necessary to try or rotate to other ones listed here.
1. Install Bird Netting
Pigeons may opt to nest in your garden, chimney, yard, or building structures making flimsy nests of sticks and debris.
They will nest in protective, dry places such as beneath eaves, in rain gutters, in attics, under bridges, and in other nooks that are natural or manmade.
To keep pigeons from nesting on your property, use bird netting around your garden and the exterior of your home and other structures.
This netting may be a nuisance to other birds that use gutters and eaves for nesting as well, but it can be removed once pigeons find elsewhere to set up their nests.
2. Put Up Parallel Wires
Parallel wires can be strung along structures.
These hinder pigeons’ ability to roost and nest in gutters and other attractive areas of a home or building.
3. Install Nest Boxes For Smaller Birds
Install small wooden birdhouses on your property that have smaller entrances.
While pigeons are more likely to use your structures, smaller birds can find refuge for raising offspring if you provide nest boxes for them.
4. Hang Up Small And Caged Feeders
Due to their larger size, pigeons cannot perch on small hanging feeders. Keep in mind though, that seed can fall to the ground, inviting pigeons to eat below.
You can also use squirrel-proof, caged feeders. This makes it difficult for any large bird to access the seeds inside the cage.
5. Use Angled Sticks
Use small twigs and angle them into feeders so that they poke out in varying positions. Small birds can manoeuvre or perch on these, but pigeons cannot.
6. Install Anti-Bird Spikes
Businesses and homes alike can install bird spikes on the edges and flat surfaces of structures.
While they look dangerous, pigeons will opt to not land in these areas, recognizing the spikes as undesirable landing spots.
7. Catch Seeds Underneath Feeders
Since birds kick and drop seed from hanging feeders, put a plastic container or bowl underneath the feeder. Cover it with a wire, mesh-like cover.
This will allow seeds to fall in, keeping them off of the ground, yet keeping the pigeons out.
Make sure you empty the container daily. If the seeds are wet, do not put them back in the feeder as they can harbour mould or bacteria.
Do not discard collected seeds on the ground, since this simply invites pigeons and other pests to the disposal site.
Conversely, some feeders can be fitted with a seed tray that is installed right underneath the hanging feeder.
You could also use large chunky rocks that seeds can fall into, but are difficult for pigeons to reach within the cracks. Pigeons cannot move over uneven surfaces very well.
8. Use A Ground Haven Cage
Bird seed is an invitation to many birds, as well as pigeons, to feast. Once they find a food source, pigeons will dominate the feeder, preventing smaller birds from gaining access.
If you want to invite other ground-feeding birds to your property, but not pigeons, use a barrier such as a ground haven cage.
Put down a seed tray and the cage goes over it. This allows smaller birds in, but the bars of the cage are too narrow for pigeons to get in.
If you don’t have a haven cage, you can use an upside-down hanging flower basket with the liner removed.
Use pegs, such as tent pegs, to hold the cage in place.
Consider putting a ground haven cage underneath a hanging feeder as well if you do not use a wire-covered container underneath.
If you use a bird feeding table in your garden, you can surround it with wire netting or fencing that allows small birds in only.
This video demonstrates how to pigeon-proof a bird table:
9. Put Bird Food Inside Dense Shrubbery
If you wish to provide food to ground-feeding birds other than pigeons, try putting, or throwing, food into dense shrubbery and borders.
Smaller ground-feeding birds can get in much more easily than pigeons.
10. Use Bird Food That Pigeons Do Not Like
Pigeons do not prefer wheat-free bird seed, so opt for seed-dense mixes that smaller birds will like.
Additionally, pigeons do not like bird food with shell-covered peanuts, niger seeds, suet, or mealworms.
Some people opt to set up a separate pigeon feeding station with a seed mix of a high cereal content. This is placed on the opposite side of the property away from seed-only feeders.
However, this is not recommended if you wish to keep pigeons away entirely.
11. Use Sprayed Water
A motion-sensor sprinkler can be used to scare away larger pests from entering areas, such as a garden.
This may also spray you, your pets, and other birds, but will deter flocks of pigeons from enjoying your vegetation.
You could also use a hose to spray at flocking pigeons to scatter them. If you repeatedly do this, it sends a message that this is not a desirable place to stay.
12. Make A Sticky Surface
Spray equal parts of honey and water in roosting or potential nesting spots. This creates a sticky surface that pigeons don’t like. Honey will need to be reapplied as it wears off.
Keep in mind that honey can invite in other pests as well such as beetles and bees.
Commercial bird repellent sticky gels are also an option.
Do not use sticky substances that will hold a bird or other creature in place, causing it to struggle or die.
13. Contact A Professional
If you have not had any success with keeping pigeons off of your property, call for professional help.
They likely will use similar tactics as described above. However, they may be able to more effectively pinpoint why pigeons are attracted to your home or yard.
14. Other Options That Affect All Birds
If you love to do some birdwatching, consider using these tactics as a last resort, since they will affect most birds (and not just pigeons):
- Faux predator: Falcons, owls, sparrowhawks, snakes, and more are predators of pigeons, and placing a fake one on your property may scare them away.
- However, these predatory creatures also eat other birds such as shorebirds, ducks, and some songbirds.
- Make sure to move the faux predator around so that the pigeons do not get used to its still presence.
- Decoy kites, shaped like birds, are also used to scare away pests.
- Shiny and noisy distractions: Some people will use hanging reflective and shiny objects, laser lights, noisy windchimes, or ultrasonic devices to scare away pigeons.
- While these may be effective, they are likely to scare away other birds too.
- Eliminate food sources: You can also completely remove all bird feeders and garden setups from your property which takes away food sources from all birds.
- Spicy repellents: Spicy homemade powders and sprays of pepper, cinnamon, and chilli powder will deter birds, including pigeons.
- These would need to be reapplied after inclement weather.
15. Take Preventative Measures
To keep pigeons (and other pests) off of your property, you can also do the following preventive measures:
- Regularly sweep out sheds and garages
- Remove any litter and cigarette butts from your yard
- Keep the garbage can closed with a secure lid
- Rectify sloped areas with sod or soil so there is no standing water
- Remove bird baths
- Remove old and empty bird nests to keep mites away
- Keep the lawn trimmed
- Avoid intentionally feeding pigeons
Pigeons come in flocks and crowd out smaller birds in yards and gardens. They also roost and nest in structures, creating disturbances and leaving behind messy droppings.
Home and business owners can take bird-safe actions to deter pigeons, yet allow other birds to continue to visit.
Strategies such as anti-bird spikes, wire cages, netting, and parallel wires can surround structures, feeders, or gardens. The pigeons cannot land or get in, yet smaller birds can still access the areas.
Other strategies such as using sticky gels or honey, spraying water with motion detection or by hose, using wheat-free bird seed, and keeping the yard maintained will help to keep pigeons away.
It is illegal to harm or injure any bird, so if pigeons continue to be a nuisance, contact a professional for help.