Pigeons can be a relentless nuisance for those who live in, or near, a city. They make themselves at home on windowsills and balconies, causing damage and leaving a mess wherever they go. In fact, pigeons are considered the number one urban pest bird in the United States.
To be clear, we’re referring to feral pigeons and not those raised for hobby or sport. Feral pigeons are the opportunistic city-dwellers who feed off scraps of any food people leave behind.
They gather round the trash can in your local park, cooing and trilling, doing that pigeon bob-and-weave thing they do, looking for the errant pizza crust or hot dog bun. They leave their droppings everywhere and acidic pigeon poop eats away at your car’s finish, your home’s exterior, and just about anything it touches.
Those are the birds that cause such a nuisance, and cause you to wonder how to get rid of pigeons. Not only are their droppings destructive, they can also harbor diseases, such as histoplasmosis, which is harmful to human beings. Get rid of one or two, and four more come back. It’s enough to rattle your nerves!
Before you find out how to get rid of pigeons, you should know a little bit about them. They are intelligent birds and have an interesting backstory, in spite of their annoying habits. Once you understand why they do the things they do, you’ll have a better idea of how to get rid of pigeons.
Why Pigeons Are a Nuisance
Pigeons are not native to North America and started arriving in the 1600s. In Europe, at the time, pigeons were trained as pets and for entertainment. When the colonists arrived, with their pigeons, they soon had bigger worries than caring for their aviary pals, and these prolific pioneers had to fend for themselves. Abandoned in the earliest cities in the US, the pigeons from across the pond soon learned to adapt to their new habitat.
Pigeons naturally roost in high areas, as their instinctual homes are rocky outcrops and cliffs. Without the natural roosting area available, pigeons sought the highest available real-estate. As high-rise office buildings, apartments and condos started popping up, they became prime real estate for these birds.
Chickens may come home to roost, but so do pigeons. In fact, it isn’t unusual for these bird families to have more than one generation living nearby, and coming back year after year. That’s why homing pigeons have a natural ability to return to their nest. Pigeons will often reuse the same nest, or build another on top of the old one.
These messy penthouse pests can exist on seeds, fruit, and scraps of food left behind by those who dine al fresco, making urban life fairly easy. Real areas also have their share of pigeon problems. Grain silos and feed mills make a great place to grab a bite, and barns and silos make excellent roosting areas, or a place to just hang out, and leave behind a huge mess.
Why Are There So Many Pigeons Around?
Pigeons have few natural predators in urban areas, though snakes, owls, hawks, and other birds of prey are their biggest threat in less urban surroundings. Pigeons reach sexual maturity at seven months, and begin mating right away. The female can lay up to 3 eggs, two weeks after mating, and the eggs will hatch after 18 days.
The chicks will leave the nest after 3-4 weeks, but the female can lay more eggs before the first group has flown. Their prolific reproduction, combined with the lack of natural predators, makes for extreme overpopulation, which makes figuring out how to get rid of pigeons difficult.
Evicting Pesky Pigeons
If you’re having an issue dealing with pigeons, in either the city or out in the country, take heart. There are ways you can evict your tenacious tenants. There are answers to how to get rid of pigeons. Here are some eco-friendly alternatives to poisoning the birds, and rerouting them to areas more accommodating to their natural instincts.
The kindest way to remove pigeons from your home or building is by convincing them they don’t want to roost there. Since these birds have such incredible homing abilities, you can’t simply trap and release these birds elsewhere. If you’re seeking out how to get rid of pigeons, you want a permanent approach.
Whether you’re in the city, suburbs, or a more agrarian space, the easiest method to try is the scare-away tactic. Most experts agree that the plastic owl, or birds of prey, that scare off garden pests, won’t work for these savvy birds.
Instead, scatter a few rubber snakes around your porch, or try using something that will move and make some noise. Strategically placed wind chimes, or a mylar balloon, tied to your balcony, work well.
Making their roosting area uninhabitable is another tactic that will discourage pigeons without causing them harm. Anti-roosting spikes that you place along exterior window sills, balcony railings, roof gutters, and anywhere these pervasive pests might land, make these places very uncomfortable, causing a rapid relocation.
They are one of the most sure-fire ways to prevent pigeons from roosting. These spikes are an investment, especially when professionally installed, but will last for years to come.
Commercial gels, designed to repel birds, work well as a method for how to get rid of pigeons. However, with the gel, you will need to reapply after inclement weather. Be sure your product is non-toxic to kids, animals and plants and eco-friendly.
Screens affixed outside of your window can create a barrier. Homemade barriers can be made out of weatherproof string, such as fishing line. Tie a few inches above your porch railing to discourage pigeons from landing.
If these methods won’t work for you, there is another way to encourage relocation of these bothersome birds. Technology offers a sound-emitting device that is annoying to pigeons, but inaudible to you. These devices employ ultrasonic technology, creating a barrier of sound around your roof, balcony, or window. Ultrasonic technology has been used for years as a method of discouraging pests in agriculture, but is recent to your local garden center or hardware.
Patience, Perseverance, and Pigeons
Ridding your space of pigeons will take some patience. But tackling the problem using these methods is the only way to avoid pigeons roosting, messing, and scavenging in and around your property altogether, now and in the future.
It’s vital that you keep in mind that these birds have been occupying these spaces, or areas nearby, for generations. They can essentially survive on any type of sustenance, and they breed year-round. Persistence is key in removing these pigeons, and their descendants, for the longterm.
You may grow weary of trying and trying again, but never take matters into your own hands. In most areas, especially cities and suburbs, it is illegal to kill wildlife.
If you truly are at the end of your rope, contact someone who specializes in the removal of wildlife. But, be aware, that very well may not be the end of your pigeon problem.