How to Get Rid of Pigeons
With modern communications technology, pigeons have fallen from premier messengers to pests. Pigeons lived closely with humans for thousands of years. Specially constructed dovecotes were built to house pigeons; the pigeons of old were so valuable that armed guards were placed to protect the pigeons. Pigeons were used as a source of food and the pigeon guano was an especially sought-after fertilizer. In the 16th century, it was learned that pigeon droppings contained potassium nitrate (saltpeter) which was used in the manufacturing of gunpowder. Many of these ancient dovecotes, where pigeons were revered and protected, are damaged and in disrepair today, but the historical importance of pigeons cannot be overstated.
All species of pigeons and dove belong to the family Columbidae, and they share many of the same characteristics.
- Short, rounded bodies
- Short, scaly pinkish colored legs
- Small, rounded heads
- Small, slim beaks with a small fleshy patch at the base
- Tapered wings
- Soft, dense feathers
- Crooning or cooing calls
It is believed that all current species of pigeons and dove descended from the blue rock pigeon (Columba Livia) which is found everywhere on earth except for the polar ice caps. Pigeon images have been discovered in archeological sites from Sumer in Mesopotamia dating back to 2,400 – 1,500 BC. One of the earliest accounts of taming a pigeon is the ancient Greek poet Anacreon, who lived over 2,000 years ago. His poetry reveals that Anacreon used the bird to deliver love letters; the pigeon lived in his house, drank from a cup, and ate from his hand.
Pigeons were reliably used to deliver messages during peace and war time since the ancient Greek and Roman ages. Pigeon post continued to be used for message delivery in the Middle Ages, and even into both World Wars. In fact, 32 pigeons were awarded medals for their service in WWII. Pigeons were dispatched from the front lines carrying important messages, they were also dropped from airplanes to deliver messages to troops behind enemy lines. Using their homing instincts, they would return to a centralized communications center where the message would be forwarded to the appropriate person. One of the most famous war pigeons was “GI Joe” of the United States Army Pigeon Service. GI Joe delivered an important message which prevented a village in Italy from being bombed. GI Joe’s flight is credited with saving the lives of over 1,000 British soldiers that day.
Pigeons have progressed along side human civilization for thousands of years. Today, pigeons are not needed for message delivery, but people still breed and race pigeons, both to preserve their history and to appreciate the incredible abilities of the often-maligned pigeon.
Fun Facts About Pigeons
Not only do pigeons fly fast, high, and for great distances, they always find their way home. Even today, the pigeon’s homing instinct is not well understood. Pigeons have been dropped from airplanes and carried in sacks by soldiers into war, and still, they find their way home. They can find their way home in the dark, in foul weather, and flying into a barrage of bullets. Exactly how they do this is the source of fierce debate. Some scientists believe that pigeons remember visual maps of the earth as they fly over. They have been observed to use roads and turn at intersections. Other scientists believe their homing instinct is fueled by the Earth’s magnetic fields or the sun. Perhaps they navigate by the stars. Some research suggests that pigeons use smells to find their way home and other scientists suspect they use sounds to find their way home. Perhaps the little pigeon is endowed with many extraordinary skills, and they use each one as necessary and appropriate. Wherever pigeons call home, it takes much more than the end of a broom stick to keep them away.
Pigeons are highly social and prefer to live together in groups of about 20-30 pigeons. If food and shelter is abundant, their groups may grow to be much larger. Pigeons are extremely intelligent creatures. They can recognize themselves in the mirror, they can differentiate humans in pictures, and they can recognize each letter of our alphabet.
The fastest recorded pigeon flight clocked in at 92.5 mph. As far as the record distance a pigeon has flown, that statistic is filled with much legend and little proof. It is claimed that the greatest distance flown by a pigeon started in France and ended in Vietnam; a distance of approximately 7,200 miles. This trip supposedly took 24 days. Another pigeon enthusiast claimed that a pigeon sold to an owner in Sri Lanka released his pigeon and it flew back to where it was born in Germany! A strong homing pigeon can fly continuously for about 13 hours.
Just as runners have different strengths, long distance and sprinters, pigeons are bred for either marathons or sprints. Like a thoroughbred horse, a well-bred pigeon with proven racing skill can be quite expensive. The all-time most expensive pigeon sold for $1.9 million!
Life Cycle of Pigeons
Like several other species of birds, pigeons mate for life. Female pigeons usually lay 1 or 2 eggs at a time and both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs. The eggs typically hatch after 18 days, and baby pigeons stay in the nest for about one month. Both mother and father pigeon care for the young by feeding them crop milk. Crop milk is partially digested food similar to the consistency of cottage cheese. When the babies leave the nest at 4-6 weeks of age, the pigeon parents immediately begin working on a new brood. Young pigeons become sexually mature at around 1 year of age. In the wild pigeons live between 3 and 6 years, but pet pigeons often live longer. Given the right conditions, feral pigeons can reproduce quickly.
Pigeon’s Preferred Nesting Locations
Pigeons will nest in any out of the way area that provides some shelter. Large accumulations of pigeons are common in urban areas where food, water, and crevices are abundant. Pigeons will nest indoors provided there is easy access to the outdoors. They are common in parking garages, stairwells, and warehouses with large open doors. Pigeons will build nests on the beams and rafters of an attic and under the eaves of a structure.
Pigeons love ledges of all kinds. Historical buildings which boast detailed architectural features are also favorite spots for pigeons to set up home. Pigeons will build nests in chimneys and gutters as they perfectly cradle the nest. To exert its relevance upon the modern world, pigeons often nest underneath solar panels and near or even inside air conditioning units.
In short, pigeons will build a nest wherever they can sustain life, indoors or outdoors, high or low. In your pigeon removal quest, removing an active nest does not rid you of your pigeon problem. When you remove a nest, the pair of pigeons will simply rebuild and lay fresh eggs. Pigeons are the ultimate squatters and do not leave their home willingly!
Why Get Rid of Pigeons
As you can probably tell from the tone of this article, I have a deep respect for pigeons. They have sustained and saved human life all throughout human history. It seems like maybe we owe them more than to be relegated to pest status. However, despite their incredible abilities, their presence does come with serious draw backs; most notably the vast amount of pigeon poop they produce. Pigeons can harass your customers, their feathers and poop jeopardizing the cleanliness of your business, and they become a general nuisance and eye sore. Rather than spending time and money cleaning pigeon poop in an endless cycle, maybe it is time to explore other options to deal with these pigeons. Professional and ethical methods of clearing your building of pigeons are now available.
Damage from Pigeon Poop
Large concentrations of pigeons bring with them a high output of pigeon poop. Pigeon fecal matter contains uric acid which is extremely acidic and therefore damaging to the surface upon which it lands. Pigeons do not urinate, rather they excrete all waste in the form of that characteristic whitish splat which contains high amounts of uric acid. Most pigeon poop has a pH of about 3. Pigeon poop will corrode the natural stone of which many historical buildings are constructed. In fact, pigeon poop was a cited factor in a Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007. Experts believe that large accumulations of pigeon feces caused the steel beams to rust resulting in death and loss of property.
Pigeon poop wreaks havoc on cars as it etches away the paint. Pigeon poop damages roofs, gutters, sidewalks, and works of art. Statues are a common perching spot for birds and their fecal matter damages the art work, concealing the artists’ message.
Unabated pigeon poop can cost your business in a big way. Pigeon poop accumulations have been blamed for many slip and fall accidents resulting in large settlements and jury awards. One of the largest pigeon poop payouts occurred in Queens, New York, where a man slipped on pigeon poop and fell down a flight of stairs in the subway station. He sustained a permanent injury. He argued that the city was aware of the fecal hazard and negligently ignored it. He was awarded $6 million for his injury. In the alternative, a woman in New York who loves pigeons, was successfully sued by her landlord to stop her from feeding pigeons.
Cleaning up after pigeons is disheartening at best and forces your business to commit money towards clean up on a regular basis. In addition to the money wasted on clean up, you expose your business to unnecessary liability and now OSHA and local health inspectors are citing businesses for excess pigeon activity. With bird nests blocking gutters, feathers floating into your customer’s meals, and poop accumulations causing dangerous conditions, now is the time for pigeon deterrent and repellent.
Disease, Bacteria, and Ectoparasites from Pigeons
Pigeon lovers claim the risk of disease from pigeons is minimal. However, even a minor risk, if known and ignored, opens you to liability and citations by OSHA or the health department. Bird droppings are associated with a risk of over 60 diseases and are hosts to ectoparasites which may bite or infest human homes.
A few diseases that may be spread by pigeon are as follows:
- Histoplasmosis is a fungus that grows in soil that is contaminated with bird or bat droppings. When the contaminated soil is disturbed/cleaned the fungal spores enter the lungs and causes pneumonia like symptoms.
- E. Coli is transferred from fecal matter. When a pigeon pecks a pile of manure for seeds, the E. Coli is transferred to the pigeon’s own fecal matter. This can inadvertently end up in food or water supply causing illness.
- Salmonellosis is food poisoning and can sometimes be traced back to the presence of pigeons. Dust from droppings may be sucked into ventilation systems of restaurants, homes, and food processing plants.
- St. Louis Encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes that have fed upon an infected pigeon or house sparrow. St. Louis Encephalitis is inflammation of the nervous system and can be quite dangerous especially for people over the age of 60.
- Cryptococcosis is caused by a yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons. Cryptococcosis is rare in healthy individuals, but when symptomatic presents similar symptoms to meningitis and may develop in the lungs causing chest pain and shortness of breath.
In addition to diseases from their poop, pigeons carry parasites and act as vectors for other diseases. Pigeon mites, also known as avian or bird mites, will bite humans if their primary host is unavailable. Pigeon mites can not reproduce on human blood but can cause severe anxiety from the bite. Although they cannot reproduce off of human blood, bird mites will try to feed on humans for the remainder of their life which is usually one to three weeks. Mosquitoes act as a vector of West Nile Virus. If a mosquito bites an infected pigeon, then bites a human, the human may contract the virus. Yellow mealworms live in pigeon and other bird nests. A female yellow mealworm will lay eggs in grain products in your pantry such as oatmeal, flour, or cereal. If you ingest a yellow mealworm, likely symptoms of intestinal canthariasis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite similar to any other intestinal parasite.
Pigeon Damage to Homes and Appliances
Pigeons, and their feces, feathers, and nests cause millions of dollars in damage every year, not to mention lost revenues due to the unsightly condition at your business. Most of the money spent is simply cleaning up and removing the poop. This is discouraging, as unless steps are taken to prevent the birds from coming back, you will be spending time and money removing pigeon poop from the same location. However, sometimes, pigeon fecal matter contaminates expensive appliances causing damage to additional features on your home or business.
Pigeons have an affinity for nesting underneath or nearby solar panels. The warmth and protection offered by solar panels is inviting and appealing to pigeons. During their tenure near the solar panels, pigeons poop on the panels, lessening the solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into electricity. By allowing pigeons to roost near your solar panels, they are costing you money on your electric bill and you may have to ultimately replace the solar panels.
Prolonged pigeon presence may have a negative effect on the gutters of your home or business. As pigeons fly to and fro dropping seeds, they may fall or be washed into the gutters on your structure. Given the right conditions, such as water, sunlight, and fertilizer (pigeon guano), these seeds can grow into large weeds or even small trees in the gutters. Pigeons may clog gutters by simply building their nests in the cozy gutter. This nest blocks the flow of water and renders the gutters ineffective. Clogged gutters damage your structure and can cause foundation issues, interior wall and ceiling damage, moisture in the basement, broken gutters, and an increase in insect populations like mosquitoes.
Roof damage is common when pigeons are allowed to flourish unabated. Large accumulations of pigeon droppings may ultimately eat through shingles and other roofing materials. The acidic nature of pigeon poo ensures that it damages surfaces which protect our investment into our homes and businesses. If left to accumulate, pigeon poop can cause soft spots on the wood and ultimately lead to a very expensive repair.
If a pigeon pair decides that an AC Unit is their home, the indoor air quality of the home or business suffers dramatically. The HVAC system distributes air throughout the facility. If the air is contaminated with pigeon poop, you may be distributing disease causing bacteria and fungal spores. Aside from disseminating less than fresh air, the presence of pigeons can damage aspects of other aspects of your HVAC system. Pigeons have been known to peck through filter banks, pigeon debris can slow down and damage the fan, pigeon debris damages air coils and clogs the drain pan, and sometimes pigeons use insulation for nesting materials. When pigeons permeate into the HVAC system, any number of dangerous conditions may exist, and the repairs can be quite costly.
Moss grows in shady damp places. Accumulations of pigeon guano provide excellent fertilizer to encourage the growth and spread of moisture rich moss. Where moss thrives, moisture issues arise.
Flocks of pigeons are more than an eye or ear sore; they can cause significant damage to your structure. Expensive repairs are in your future if you do not take action against the pigeons. There are now many options available to deter and repel pigeons from your home or business.
How to Clean up Pigeon Poop
Prior to installing pigeon deterrent devices on the exterior of a building, or after excluding pigeons from the interior, the area should be cleaned and the pigeon poop removed. Inadequate cleaning prior to device installation may lead to failure of the pigeon repelling device. When cleaning up accumulations of bird poop, caution should be used.
Histoplasmosis is a fungus that thrives in accumulations of bird fecal matter. When you clean the area, you disturb the matter and a cloud of dust may be released into the air. By spraying the area with water prior to disturbing it, you reduce the chances of inhaling this disease causing dust.
Begin your clean up operation by ensuring your own health and safety. During the cleaning, wear Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, to protect you from the pigeon poop. We recommend a respirator, eye protection, disposable gloves, boots, long sleeved shirt and long pants. Use disposable protective clothing over your regular clothes, including a hood and shoe covers. Dispose of the disposable PPE in a sealed bag after use. Likely the pigeon nesting or perching area is high and will require a ladder or other equipment to access the guano. Purchase or rent the proper equipment so that you can safely do the job and determine how you will bring the equipment and water up to the area to be cleaned.
Thoroughly inspect the area to be cleaned. If you are cleaning the area in advance of installing a bird deterrent system, a thorough scrub is necessary to ensure proper device adhesion to the surface. Your inspection should include ledges, gutters, chimneys, stairwells, rafters, solar panels, and any other area conducive to pigeon development. If located, physically remove nests and eggs.
Depending on the amount of pigeon poop, begin by physically scooping, with a shovel or trowel, any droppings that you can. Seal these dropping in a plastic bag and continue until you have shoveled all the loose excrement. Scrub the surface with a strong scrub brush and hot soapy water to remove any dried on remnant. There are specialized ornithological cleaning agents available, but a bucket of water with disinfectant will usually do the job. Especially in indoor areas, be sure to use an anti-bacterial cleaning agent. A paint scraper may be necessary to remove the dried-on pigeon guano from ledges and architectural details. Once the area is cleaned, it should thoroughly dry before applying deterrents. However, deterrents should be installed as soon as possible, or the birds will reappear.
Is Pigeon Pest Control Illegal?
In most cases, pigeon pest control is not illegal. However, many birds are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Endangered Species Act. In many cases these laws prohibit the trapping or killing of the protected bird, eggs, and their nests. Because they are not a native species, pigeons are not protected under these Acts. The feral pigeon is not protected under these federal laws, but some states and local municipalities may have additional restrictions. Pigeons are protected under general anti-cruelty laws, and some state and local jurisdiction may provide pigeons some additional protection.
Be sure to check with your local authorities before taking any action against any bird. In some situations, trapping pigeons may be necessary, but think about what you will do with the trapped pigeon. Because of their homing instinct, relocation is near impossible. Shooting pigeons may be legal in your area, but you can easily run afoul of firearms laws when trying to eliminate pigeons. If you attempt to take care of a pigeon population yourself contact your local wildlife management authorities for direct guidance specific to your location.
Some states require wildlife trappers to be licensed and insured. This provides some level of assurance that they are knowledgeable and that the laws are followed, but it makes it more difficult/expensive for a homeowner to take care of the problem. Nextgen Pest Solutions has the proper licensing and insurance to take care of your pigeon problem legally and ethically.
How to Keep Birds Away – Pigeon Prevention
The simplest method of pigeon prevention is to be mindful of available food and water in the area. Pigeons generally prefer seeds and grains, but they have adapted to live so closely with humans that they will gladly eat what we eat. City trashcans overflowing with pizza crust and sandwich ends draws pigeons and keep them in the area. Commercial dumpsters bursting with steady sources of food ensure pigeons will move on in. For pigeons, city living can’t be beat!
The act of feeding birds brings to mind the bird lady song in Mary Poppins, Feed the Birds, Tuppence a Bag. This is said to be one of Walt Disney’s favorite songs.
And you’ll be glad if you do.
Their young ones are hungry,
Their nests are so bare.
All it takes is tuppence from you.
Feed the birds,
tuppence a bag.
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.
Feed the birds, that’s what she cries
While overhead, her birds fill the skies…”
As touching and beautiful as the song message is, intentionally feeding the birds, leads to all the consequences described above. Educate customers and neighbors on the negative effects multitudes of birds has on the community to try to prevent pigeons. Post signs asking people to refrain from feeding the birds and take responsibility for the trash cans. By reducing unintentional food sources, pigeon pressure may reduce in your area.
If you are tired of losing the battle for your building to pigeons, there are many options to repel and deter pigeons. The best option for you depends upon the construction of your particular building, the bird pressure, the value you place on the aesthetics of your building, and your budget. Some buildings in high pigeon pressure areas may require an elaborate scheme of wires, slides, and spikes. The general idea with most of these systems is to create a barrier, physically preventing pigeons from comfortably accessing your building. The “best” pigeon control device is highly dependent upon the particulars of your situation. Call today to talk to your Nextgen Pest Professional for an honest assessment of your pigeon deterrent options.
Bird Spikes to Repel Pigeons
One of the most widely used pigeon deterrent options is the use of bird spikes. They are an effective and relatively inexpensive option. Bird-B-Gone bird spikes are an effective and popular product among both the Do-It-Yourself crowd and professionals. This device has either metal or plastic spikes along a runner.
Bird spikes are set at a pre-determined distance apart where birds simply can not comfortably perch or nest on them. These spiked strips are either glued down or screwed into the structure. They are useful along ledges, fences, balcony edges, or along AC Units. Spikes may also be used on roof peaks, roof-lines, parapet walls, eaves, I-beams, windowsills, light posts, and signs. Specially designed spikes for gutters are also available. Some strips have a flexible runner that can curve around bends in the architecture of your building. Many popular and effective brands such as Bird B Gone, Bird-X, and Bird Barrier spikes are readily available online and in big box stores.
Depending upon the design of your building, bird spikes may not be the best option. If your building’s architecture is detailed and offers many perching areas, you may end up with more spikes than is visually appealing. If you leave a possible perch on another ledge of your building, the pigeons will simply take up residence on the next ledge. If you are battling pigeons off a historical building, the visual effect of the spikes may be undesirable. In addition, wider ledges may require two strips to completely deter perching pigeons.
The most difficult part of installing bird spikes is prepping the area. The areas you want to install the bird spikes have typically been frequented by pigeons for a long time and have an accumulation of pigeon feces that must be scraped off before bird spikes can be glued down. The initial cost of installing bird spikes may be high, but properly installed bird spikes require virtual no maintenance and are a humane method of deterring birds.
Bird Wires Deter Pigeons
Given birds’ love of perching on telephone and electric lines, how, you may ask would bird wire be effective? Bird wire is effective for pigeons, but can also be used for larger birds such as sea gulls or geese. The proper installation of bird wire is a bit more complicated than bird spikes, but bird wire has a low visual impact on the aesthetics of the building. Bird wire is GSA approved to be permitted on historic buildings. Bird wire can be designed and installed to protect a wide area, such as an entire roof top, from nesting and perching birds.
Spring tensioned posts are mounted to pre-planned locations such as the corners and edges of the building. Nylon coated wire is connected to these various posts intentionally placed at uneven heights and intervals along the posts. This creates a perching wire that is not straight but angled. This unstable perching location is not comfortable for the birds and they move on to more secure perch. Any place that can support a metal post, can support a bird wire. Manufacturers have designed specialized clamps for connecting posts to gutters, railings, and beams.
Bird wire systems can become quite complicated constructed grid patterns over large areas. Bird wire systems are effective and long-lasting, but they should be inspected periodically to ensure optimal performance. Like bird spikes, the initial cost may be high, but the long-term maintenance cost is low once they are installed.
Angled Slides to Keep Pigeons Off the Ledge
Parking garages, warehouses, and industrial buildings inherently have more ledges than it would appear. These buildings have long stretches of right angle ledges that are protected from the elements and ideal pigeon perching and nesting locations. Edges, I-beams, eaves, and angle irons can be protected by installing material that turns that edge into a slippery slide. Pigeons cannot get a grip on the surface and will not perch or nest in the area. A pigeon slide essentially converts a 90° angle to a 45° angle. Slides are more commonly utilized indoors than outdoors.
These angled slides are relatively easy to install and can be painted to blend in with the architecture. The base of the slide can be glued down onto the surface or screwed into wood. Typically, the slide is designed for ledges approximately 6” wide, however width extensions are available if necessary. An important detail when installing a bird slide is to ensure birds and other critters can not get into the hollow area behind the slide. Specially designed caps for the slide ends are available to prevent birds and other animals from nesting within the slide.
Bird slides can be a cost-effective tool against nesting and perching pigeons. The installation is relatively simple, but this solution is not appropriate for every building and situation.
The ultimate exclusion device is a net. Nets are commonly used for enclosed or semi-enclosed areas, such as commercial buildings, open beam structures, loading docks, facades, courtyards, bridges, balconies, storefront signs. Nets can be used by shopkeepers to keep pigeons from roosting above the front entrance to their store or restaurant. Nets are most commonly used in warehouses and under covered roofs to prevent pigeons from flying up to the rafter areas.
Nets used to exclude birds come in various sizes, depending upon the bird you are targeting. For their relatively simple operation, covering large areas in netting can get expensive. Design, manufacture, and installation of an exclusionary netting system is a complicated, therefore expensive process. Bird nets work by installing a cable system around the areas to be protected from birds. Durable nets made of polyethylene twine are stretched and connected to the cable system. The nets come in various colors and are almost invisible. Bird nets are durable but may have to be replaced depending upon the level of exposure to sunlight and water.
During the bird net planning phase, be sure to think about access to certain areas behind the net. You wouldn’t want to block yourself from accessing necessary equipment, lighting, fans, electrical, or water panels. Zippers can be added for areas that need to be accessed occasionally.
Nets are one of the most effective nuisance bird management tools, but can quickly become cost-prohibitive for use on large properties. A properly installed bird net on a structure is one of the most effective options for many situations. However, it is usually the most expensive option too.
On a very small scale, bird nets can adequately protect gardeners from the ever-present pecking of their growing produce yield. Light-duty, disposable bird netting is available at many hardware stores. It is designed to throw over plants and keep birds from eating the fruit. However, it must be properly installed (off the ground) or you will entangle and kill many creatures such as snakes, small mammals, and other birds.
Shock Track Systems to Keep Pigeons Off the Roof
Similar to an electric fence to keep your dog in your yard, shock track systems train pigeons and other birds to keep off your roof and ledges of your home. When a pigeon lands on the tape, they experience a mild electrical shock which does not harm them. Rather, they learn your home is the least comfortable in the neighborhood and they do not return.
Bird shock systems can be powered by solar panels, batteries, or plugged into an electrical outlet. When aesthetics are a primary concern, shock systems should be considered. These systems are invisible from a distance. The electrified track can easily curve around edges, making it ideal for intricately designed buildings. The track can be glued to the surface to be protected and specially designed electrical connectors allow the energy to surge from track to track. These tracks are typically less than ½” high and usually cannot be seen from the ground. In areas where aesthetics eliminate options such as bird spikes and bird wires, electrified tracks may be the best option. Installation and maintenance of an electrified bird repelling system is more complex and expensive than other options, but these systems are highly effective at keeping birds at bay.
If you choose this type of bird repelling system, it is important to commit to its upkeep. As new pigeons are born into your pigeon population regularly, pigeons and other birds will have to be constantly “trained” to keep off your property. You would not want to invest into this technology and allow it to fall into disrepair and become useless.
Gels, Pastes, and Liquids to Repel Birds
A simple and inexpensive tool to add to your bird repelling tool box is the use of gels, pastes, and liquid sprays. Gels, pastes, and liquid repellents use offensive smells and textures to keep pigeons away. Pigeon gels and pastes can be applied quickly with a caulk gun, but easy come easy go. These products need to be reapplied frequently and may become ineffective if the pigeons get used to it. In addition, smaller birds may become stuck in the gel, which is not the intended outcome.
Caulking gels and pastes to repel pigeons often contain a strong odor, such as essential oils, which pigeons find offensive. A popular bird repellent gel uses the aroma of geranium oil and white pepper to discourage pigeon perching. Between the offensive odor and the sticky sensation they experience when they land on the gel, the unpleasant experience teaches them to roost elsewhere. Over time, these products become dirty and less sticky and eventually lose their odor. If placed in visible areas, the dirt stuck in the glue will make the area very unsightly. Ideally, you would scrape off the old ineffective gel before placing fresh gel on the surface to be protected. Overall caulks, gels, and glues have a much lower initial installation cost, but the long-term maintenance cost is high. In dusty/dirty conditions, the areas may need to be cleaned and product reapplied every month.
Liquid bird repellents have recently come onto the market. These products are most commonly used to control birds over vast open areas, such as crop fields, dairy barns, industrial complexes, golf courses, parks, airport hangers, docks, and many other large semi-enclosed areas. This liquid bird repellent is EPA registered and consists of food-grade ingredients. The active ingredient is Methyl Anthranilate, which is most often used as grape flavoring. This ingredient irritates birds’ mucous membrane, but does not permanently hurt them. Birds learn to avoid an area treated with this liquid repellent. This liquid can be sprayed or fogged and is said to last a few weeks if not washed away by rain. The product has a “grape soda” smell and is more pleasant to people in the area than pepper-based products. Application cost is lower than bird spikes but applications may need to be made every few days in the beginning to deter pigeons.
How to Scare Away Pigeons and Homemade Pigeon Solutions
Experts believe that pigeons hear similar sound waves as humans. Therefore, the sound emitters that we humans cannot hear are likely to be completely ineffective against pigeons. Bird sound deterrents are most useful when pigeons are first coming onto your property. A well-established flock of pigeons will likely not be dissuaded by one of these sound machines.
In an urban scenario, bird sound deterrent systems may be as or more annoying than the birds themselves. Always seek to be a good neighbor. A quality bird noise machine relies upon either frightening noises or alarm or distress calls. These alarm or distress calls are highly specialized and distinct depending upon the species of bird you are dealing with. Loudly broadcasting geese distress calls will not alleviate your pigeon problem, but it may trigger a noise complaint from an irritated neighbor.
Other sound machines loudly broadcast frightening random noises such as an air horn, a gun shot, or clanging together of pots and pans. They should be timed with arrival of the flock, rather than simply played on a continual loop. If these sound machines are used indiscriminately, the birds will learn that there is no actual threat and begin to ignore the obnoxious noise. These types of devices are more effective for birds that arrive randomly in large numbers, such as ducks and geese, rather than pigeons that are an ever-present circumstance.
To be effective on pigeons, you need to select a noise machine that is programmable. By programming it with a mix of bird-of-prey calls and pigeon distress calls you can deter pigeons. However, as mentioned above, pigeons learn fast! The machine needs to be reprogrammed weekly or else the pigeons will learn it is just a recording. Think about it this way… pigeons can recognize other pigeons’ voices. If every day they hear the same pigeon scream “Help, I am dying!!” they will soon catch on to your tricks. If you mix it up, you will succeed.
Not to be used in urban situations (unless you want to be that neighbor), propane cannons may offer some deterrence to pigeons looking for a cozy place to call home. A lightweight and portable device can be programmed to emit a loud thunderous sound at regular intervals. These noisemakers are most often used in agricultural areas or near airports. Like many sound devices, once birds recognize that there is no actual danger, they learn to ignore the noise.
Visual Bird Deterrents – Owls, Snakes, and Reflected Light
If pigeon pressure is light, and you have committed to keeping the trash cans and dumpsters cleaned up, maybe a fake owl or snake is all you need for additional bird protection. Visual bird deterrents work by using bright colors, motion, flashing lights, and other signs of danger to frighten birds away from a home, garden, business, or another type of property.
Effigies of owls and snakes that are made of plastic and do not move are rarely successful in scaring away pigeons for long. The industrious pigeon quickly learns that the statue like owl or snake poses no real threat. Thanks to modern technology, there are fake owls that rotate on a base and make screeching and flying sounds. These effigies are slightly more successful, but they are best used in conjunction with other more exclusionary tactics.
Have you ever driven by a house and seen CDs hanging from a tree or the edge of the home? Your neighbor may not be as eccentric as you first thought. Flashing bright light as happens when a CD reflects the sun’s light scares birds and causes them to look elsewhere for food and shelter. Hanging holographic adornments in fruit trees, may keep birds of all species from pecking your mangoes and other fruit before they are ripe. Disks and other reflective materials may be easily damaged in the elements and lose their shine quickly. However, they are inexpensive and may help deter nuisance birds from your home and yard.
Bird repellent manufacturers make a specialized petri dish with a reflective substance that easily attaches anywhere pigeons may be attempting to establish a home. These products will not cure a heavy pigeon infestation, but they may successfully convince a roving pigeon pair to move on.
Because of their irrepressible homing instinct, removing and relocating pigeons is usually a no-win situation. Pigeon removal is generally more appropriate when an isolated pair of pigeons makes their way into a warehouse, industrial complex, or other building. Loading docks with doors kept wide open allow nuisance birds of all kinds to enter and find safe harbor along the high shelving and open rafters. Sometimes pigeons make their way into big box stores and grocery stores, but this does not necessarily warrant installing pigeon proofing devices throughout a store or warehouse. To preserve inventory and machinery used in manufacturing or food processing, the pigeons should be removed, and steps taken to prevent additional intrusions.
In certain outdoor situations, it is appropriate to remove pigeons before installing a pigeon deterrent system. Trapping then releasing or relocating pigeons is not an option. They will be back on their roost before you drive back from releasing them! If trapping pigeons is necessary, you must be prepared to euthanize them humanely and ethically.
Trapping pigeons should not be considered a solution for heavy pigeon pressure areas such as in an urban environment. If you trap every pigeon on the roof, more pigeons will quickly take their place. Outdoor pigeon trapping should be reserved for the specific situation of removing pigeons right before cleaning their mess then installing bird b gone bird spikes or bird wires.
The most common traps for pigeons are a large wire cage with a one-way trap door. Many of these traps are considered “multi-catch” meaning they can capture more than 1 pigeon at a time. One common pigeon trap can hold up to 30 pigeons at a time. Most people pre-bait the trap. This simply means, placing the trap in the pigeon rich environment and placing food/bait in and around it. Initially, don’t set the trap. This allows the pigeons to get comfortable eating the bait, such as cracked corn or seeds, and entering the trap. After a few days, set the trap; the pigeons will enter to take the food and will not be able to escape. Humanely dealing with nuisance wildlife is a priority. To avoid undue suffering, traps must be checked every 24 hours.
If you have an isolated pigeon issue, such as a nesting pair in a warehouse, removal by trapping may be appropriate. Successful pigeon trapping in a warehouse is a bit trickier than on a roof top, but with the right trap and bait, you will get your pigeons. After removal of the pigeons and the nest, modify the environment to minimize the instances of nuisance birds indoors.
Shooting Pigeons for Pest Control
In specific situations it may be necessary to control problem pigeons by eliminating them with an air rifle/pellet gun. As pigeons are not native to the United States, they are not protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. However, many other birds are, and to shoot or harass them can be a federal crime. Be sure to accurately identify any bird before taking action and checking it against both federal and state laws.
In addition, before using an air rifle for pest control purposes, talk to your local wildlife commission to ensure it is legal in your area. If you determine that using an air rifle for pest control is both legal and appropriate to your situation, you should not embark upon this quest without at least a basic hunter’s safety course. When using an air rifle for pest control purposes, you are legally responsible for any damage you may inflict upon non-target animals, people, or property.
There is one pesticide that is approved for use against pigeons. Due to the overwhelming risk of ingestion by non-target birds and animals, we do not recommend homeowners take this course of action. The pesticide is a Restricted Use Product, or RUP, meaning that only licensed pest control operators can legally purchase the product and a log must be kept of where and when it was applied. These products should only be used by licensed pest control operators working with environmentalists and bird specialists. When necessary, this product is normally applied at large commercial establishments, such as stadiums, malls, grain elevators, food processing plants, farms, and feed yards.
Should you decide that baiting the birds is your only option, be prepared for a public relations crisis should things go wrong. Many news reports have feverishly reported on “birds falling from the sky” around areas where this bird pesticide was applied. The risk of unintended environmental consequences is an unacceptable risk for most people evaluating pigeon solving options. With other very good pigeon solutions available for most home and business owners, baiting for pigeons should be a last resort.
Pigeon Birth Control
While not a poison, another possible pigeon solution is considered a sort of pigeon birth control. This product is best used at large facilities or areas where public perception is an important factor. Prime locations for this type of pigeon solution would be chemical or power plants, food processing facilities, hospitals, ports and other transportation hubs, and college campuses.
Automated feeders are installed and filled with a food/ bait product. Pigeons breed rapidly; 5 mating pairs may turn into 400 pigeons within 2 years. The active ingredient in OvoControl bait interferes with the fertilization of the pigeons’ eggs. The pigeons that have eaten the bait lay non-viable eggs, therefore the pigeon population is reduced via attrition. Since fewer eggs are hatching, the pigeon population declines over time. To be successful, sufficient levels of the active ingredient must continually be present in the pigeons’ bodies. Therefore, consistently feeding the bait is necessary to ensure the level of “birth control” is high enough to be effective.
Many animal welfare activists consider pigeon birth control bait to be the most ethical and humane solution for large scale pigeon problems. Research shows there is little to no secondary effect on non-target species. This procedure requires a commitment to maintain the feedings and machines, but has been proven to reduce large overwhelming flocks of pigeons to a manageable number.
This pigeon guide has discussed many detailed and expensive systems to remove pigeons. There is no “best” way to remove pigeons from a property as it is highly fact intensive. Many of these systems require a substantial upfront cost and commitment to maintenance. But sometimes in pest control we find that small changes to human behavior has the greatest effect on the creatures that we deem pests. Modifying the environment and encouraging cultural changes can help to reduce the number of pigeons and pigeon interactions.
- Consider posting a “no feeding the birds” sign.
- Set trash receptacle emptying on a frequent and regular schedule.
- Have the dumpster emptied an additional time per week.
- Repair cracks and crevices on buildings where pigeons may be nesting.
- Install doors that close automatically and completely.
- Install screens on loading dock doors.
Small changes can make a significant impact on pigeons as well as many other pests. Just as you do not want to continue throwing good money after bad cleaning up pigeon feces, your customers do not want to be accosted by birds. The success of your business depends upon the intangible things… the way your customers feel when they sit on the patio or roof top bar. There are many options available to ethically deter and repel pigeons from your home or business. Call Nextgen Pest Solutions to discuss the path to a pigeon free property.