Pigeons can be messy and cause damage so you might want to dissuade them from hanging around your home! Fortunately for us, there are a few likely spots that pigeons will go near your house.
Pigeons are known to nest near your home if it’s in the city, suburbs, or on a farm. They utilize empty buildings, chimneys, statues, bridges, warehouses, barns, attics, barns, balconies, and many more places to nest near their food sources.
Finding where your pesky pigeons are nesting down can be the first step to limiting the damage they do and knowing what steps to take from there can save you a lot of time and trouble!
Where Did Pigeons Come From Anyways?
While pigeons now can be found throughout North America they are not an indigenous species.
The passenger pigeon, which was the native species of pigeon to North America, went extinct in 1914 when the last known passenger pigeon passed away.
Rock pigeons, “Columba Livia”, are feral, wild pigeons that originate from North Africa, Southwestern Asia, and Europe. The term rock pigeon comes from the cliffs that pigeons perch on in their natural habitat along coastlines.
So how did they end up taking over our cities and farms here?
The first recorded domesticating of pigeons dates back to 4,500 B.C. You can find evidence of pigeons in Mesopotamian where they were used as food and for communication.
Even Roman coins depict pigeons on them and Genghis Khan used them for communication.
With such a long history of domestication, it’s no surprise that European settlers brought pigeons as they migrated over as a food source called squab.
Once here the pigeons escaped and thrived in the wild and alongside people with their population exploding and leading to the irritating feral pigeons we all know today.
Where, Why, And How Do I Get Rid Of Pigeons Nesting?
Now, if you seem to have pigeons, I’m going to give a quick table below, and then review all of these areas more in-depth a few sections down. But, I just wanted to give you a summarized answer if you’re in a hurry!
Common Pigeon Nesting / Perching Spots Near Homes
|NESTING SPOT||REASON THEY'RE THERE||SOLUTION|
|Attics||Protection from predators and proximity to people||Limit access and close any entrances and use scents to keep them out|
|Eaves||Flat surfaces for nesting||Owl Decoy to keep them out of the area or owl boxes to attract owls|
|Balconies||Safe, flat surface for nesting||Wind chimes to disrupt pigeons from settling in|
|Chimneys||Flat surface for nesting||Bird spikes to keep them from landing on the chimney|
|Shed||Often has entry points||Close any entry points|
|Barn or Warehouse||Beams and rafters for perching and nesting||Use bird netting to keep them from reaching perching places|
|Silos||Easy food source||Cover entry points with plastic strips and cleans up stray grain from surrounding areas|
|Window Sills||Flat surface near food sources||Use repellent gel to keep pigeons away|
Next, let’s discuss the main pigeons types in the U.S.
There Are 4 Main Pigeon Types In The United States
Pigeons come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, patterns, and even shapes with over 350 breeds.
This wide selection comes from centuries of selective breeding for specific traits like speed, color, or size.
There are four types of pigeons that are currently present in the United States. The different types of pigeons range from a tiny population hidden in the woods to holy pigeons- they are everywhere.
Thriving in Mexico the red-billed pigeon can only be found in Texas in the United States with less than 500 being recorded. However, the red-billed pigeon is much more common in Central America and Mexico.
They can normally be found in woodland near rivers with plenty of tall ground cover. The Red-Billed Pigeon eats berries, and nuts, and checks the ground for any grains available.
The red-billed pigeon nests 8-30 feet off the ground in large shrubs, trees, or vines.
The white-crowned pigeon resides in the United States only in Florida where less than 12,000 live. They can be identified by their gray color and white head that looks like a cap according to Cornell University.
These pigeons are known as strong flyers and have been known to fly over 30 miles each day for food. They roost and nest in the mangrove forest in south Florida and eat mainly the fruit that grows there, although they have been known to eat bugs and snails.
When nesting, the white-crowned pigeon can gather in colonies of 500 mated pairs.
The second most widespread pigeon in the United States, the band-tailed pigeon can be found along the Pacific Coast and into the Southwest.
According to Cornell University, identifying these pigeons requires looking for their long tails with a wide light strip across the tip. They also have a white neck crescent that stands out against their pale gray coloring.
They reside in the mountain forests of the Southwest and the forests of the Pacific Coast preferring tall trees as places to nest.
Band-Tailed Pigeons travel on average 3 miles from their nesting place to feed. With over 1.4 million band-tailed pigeons in the United States, they are not considered endangered but are being observed due to a declining population.
The most common type of pigeon and the pigeon that is the biggest nuisance is the rock pigeon. From large cities to the most rural farms these pigeons have made a home side by side with humans thriving off of their scraps and sometimes wreaking havoc.
Rock Pigeons survive off of discarded foods, seeds, and grains. They can be recognized by their blue-gray coloring and dark swipes on their wings. They can have different markings, but usually have a lustrous green or purple color around their head.
Rock pigeon populations have swelled since their introduction in the 1600s millions now inhabiting the United States. These birds made themselves right at home whether we wanted it or not.
Most Common Places Where You’ll Find Pigeons
Although pigeons will travel 10 or more miles in the search of food they never get lost and you can expect them to hang around unless their food source or safety changes.
The University of Texas tells us that pigeons have superior navigation skills and are able to find their way back to their nest from 1300 miles away.
It’s been suggested that pigeons use the earth’s magnetic field along with certain brain cells that work like a compass, and this is why nesting becomes so important to pigeons!
Pigeons Nest In Cities
According to the University of Florida, cities are made of artificial cliffs and caves which stimulate the rock pigeon’s natural habitat allowing them to flourish in cities.
Buildings with ledges and roofs can provide a nesting spot for rock pigeons. These tall buildings mock their natural habitat and also keep them close to people, which is their food source. Window ledges are also a favorite.
Any kind of open building like a warehouse or abandoned building will quickly be utilized by pigeons as their new nesting site.
Statues & Bridges Are prime nesting Spots
Statues provide a good roosting spot that is hard concrete like their natural habitat.
Most statues are in public areas around high populations allowing the pigeons to feed on trash and discarded food.
Bridges can provide the needed shelter pigeons are looking for from animals that would hunt them.
Food Is Available In Cities Which Attracts Pigeons To Nest
There is another reason that pigeons are drawn to cities.
Food is readily available in cities. Pigeons can survive on human food better than any other bird, so leftovers found in trash cans or discarded in alleys will provide the perfect food source for pigeons.
This ability to eat such a range of food has earned them the nickname “rat with wings” along with less flattering names referring to their frequent droppings.
Controlling pigeons in the city can be hard because of the population density and lack of access to roosting locations.
Pigeons Nest in Suburban Areas
While residential areas lack the large buildings and mass population that cities have they still offer many benefits for pigeons.
Openings into attics mimic the caves rock pigeon’s ancestors came from.
Providing protection and a place for nesting that still keeps them close to humans, their primary food source. Eaves and windowsills are flat surfaces on that pigeons can nest.
Food Sources In Suburban Areas
Roosting areas can be provided by backyard sheds, balconies, or even chimneys will inspire the rock pigeon to feel at home.
Without the abundance of trash, pigeons look at bird feeders as a food source in suburban areas.
Be careful that while attracting songbirds you aren’t unwillingly feeding a pigeon flock.
Because rock pigeons’ natural habitat is the rocky cliffs and caves they are less likely to land in trees than most birds according to a paper put out by the Los Angeles County Department of Agricultural Commission.
Pigeons Also Nest In Rural Areas
Pigeons are also known to hang around rural areas with farms. They are attracted to barns with livestock, poultry farms, and abandoned farm buildings.
The beams and rafters in barns and other farm buildings provide the shelters that pigeons are looking for and flat surfaces that they need for nesting.
Pigeons will nest in pairs or when there are large groups of pigeons it is referred to as roosting. Depending on the resources and shelter in the area will determine how many pigeons roost.
Grain Attracts Pigeons
Grain that has not been stored correctly, livestock feed left out, or corn that is being stored all rank high on a pigeon’s preferred diet leading them to populate grain towers or silos.
If there isn’t any grain or feed available to pigeons they will resort to eating worms, grubs, or snails that are readily available around farmlands.
Pigeons are herbivores and can supplement their diet as needed from a wide range of sources.
How To Dissuade Pigeons From Nesting
One of the main factors in where pigeons nest can be determined by how easily accessible or welcoming a space is.
As mentioned, you won’t be able to do much about the urban pigeons flying around, but in a more isolated suburban or rural area it is much easier to control the pigeon population.
Here are some things you can do to keep them out of your way!
Close Off Any Openings
Preventing wildlife from entering an unwanted space is always the best trick for dealing with any unwanted wildlife encounters.
Closing off any openings is the first step, which could include vents, eaves, or attic openings.
If you have entries that must remain open try hanging plastic strips down to keep birds from entering.
Clean Up Food Scraps
One of the main reasons that pigeons are attracted to an area is food availability.
Making sure to clean up any animal food such as livestock feed or grains and storing possible food in bird-proof containers will discourage pigeons from settling in your area.
Keeping trash and food debris away from the pigeons is essential to making the area inhospitable for them.
Use Decoys To Scare Pigeons
Another good method to keep pigeons out is to place an owl decoy near an entryway to discourage the pigeons from coming near or playing bird distress noises from areas that you want to keep pigeons out of.
In fact, we have a whole article dedicated to how to scare pigeons away! Make sure to head on over and check it out for more tips & tricks!
Remove Places to Roost or Nest
Any flat places that provide good resting spots for pigeons can be covered to create a slope of at least 45%. Usually, a simple wooden cover will work.
If there are large open spaces such as a barn with rafters try hanging bird netting to keep the pigeons from reaching to high lofts they enjoy perching on.
Try using Bird Netting 25’x50′ with 2.4″ Square Mesh. Hanging this up will remove access to the high points in your building which prevents messy dropping or nest building.
Make Your Space As Unfunctional As Possible
If you are unable to block surfaces that attract pigeons, making the surfaces as unfunctional as possible is an option. One of the easiest options is to use porcupine wire.
QIEGL Bird Spikes for Pigeons is a great option that will cover 25 feet keeping it pigeon free.
Some other options include running a wire down the middle of any nesting areas so that the birds can’t land without being off balance or using wire loops.
Using a nontoxic sticky substance on the roosting areas like Bird-X 54-1 Proof Bird Repellent Gel will discourage the pigeons from landing, but will have to be applied again over time as it loses its effectiveness.
Offer A better Area For Pigeons To Nest By Confining Them
A common method for getting a flock of pigeons out of your yard is relocation.
Confining can be a safe way to collect your pigeons and take them somewhere more appropriate that has an adequate food source.
You can build your own confinement area or purchase one like the Bird B Gone Pigeon Catcher that offers shade as well as food and water containers to keep the pigeons comfy thru relocation.
To effectively restrain pigeons, place the confinement areas near food sources or nesting sites and bait with tempting food such as corn or seed. If you are worried about getting the pigeons in the trap try pre-baiting.
If you are not experienced or don’t feel comfortable trying, call in a professional. They have experience dealing with pigeons and will know what steps to take. No matter how inconvenient pigeons can be, always treat them kindly.
Simple Discouragements Can Do The Trick
There are several different techniques that you can use to discourage pigeons from hanging around.
Once again pigeons are looking for somewhere safe with a ready supply of food so step one is removing available food.
Wind chimes are great to hang around balconies. The constant noise and sudden movement discourage the pigeons from hanging around in that location. Especially if they are shiny and reflect light.
Scents Discourage Pigeons
Using scents or plants that pigeons dislike is another way to discourage them from hanging around.
Try planting lemongrass or peppermint. Both of these scents discourage pigeons.
Citronella is another scent that pigeons do not care for, along with strong scents like chili!
For more scents that pigeons hate, head on over to our article about scents they hate and how to use them to get rid of them!
The most effective way to keep pigeons from staying around is to make sure that they don’t feel safe.
Probably the most frequent pigeon harasser is the house cat. They are known for stalking birds and fat pigeons waddling around on the ground are a favorite that they can’t ignore.
Birds of prey like hawks or owls will also prey on the plump pigeons. If you want to attract more owls to your yard try making your yard into a bird sanctuary by providing owl boxes.
Some other animals that pigeons avoid include foxes, otters, raccoons, and snakes. They will all prey on the pigeons and their eggs.
Pigeon Life Cycle
Pigeons are monogamous and mate for life, however, if their partner dies they have been known to choose new mates.
Pigeons can breed anytime during the year, however, the spring and fall see the highest population increases.
Flocks normally contain an equal amount of both male and female pigeons.
A pigeon’s life span can be up to 15 years or longer in captivity according to the USDA, but the typical lifespan of a pigeon is 3 to 4 years in the wild.
What Kind Of Damage Can Pigeons Do?
Pigeons can cause a multitude of problems whether you live in the city or in a rural area, especially if their numbers continue growing.
Large flocks get louder and messier as their numbers grow.
They Are Messy
One of the most obvious issues with having a pigeon population around is the droppings they leave everywhere and the worst-case scenario can make you a moving target.
Having to constantly clean up pigeon droppings is a time-consuming and possibly costly chore.
The Connecticut Official State website recommends using a mask, gloves, and disinfecting soap when cleaning up after pigeons.
Having your home covered in dropping can be unsightly, ruin your curb appeal, and is unhygienic.
Pigeons Cause Damage
Even worse than looking unattractive is the damage that can be caused by the pigeons.
Droppings can cause corrosive damage in any setting. Farm equipment in rural settings, statues in urban settings, and cars in suburban settings.
The reason that pigeon droppings are so damaging is the uric acid it contains which can eat through finishes causing damage to most materials, even metal, and stone.
When the mated couple is looking for the perfect place to build a nest they are looking for a safe and flat area.
A lot of the time the material they choose such as straw, hay, or other debris can live an unattractive mess even if they are no longer using the nest.
Having to constantly clean up nests can be time-consuming. And get this, they actually nest in the same nest for most of their life! Head on over to our article to learn about pigeons’ nests and how long they stay in it!
Nests Create Various Issues
The nest will also clog up gutters, drains, or vents which can lead to other issues.
Because most of the material used in nest building is flammable, having a nest around a chimney can lead to disastrous results.
According to the University of Florida pigeons, nests can house stick-tight fleas, soft ticks, bird mites, bed bugs, and carpet beetles that can make their way into your home leading to unwelcome infestations.
Knowing where to watch for pigeons and what steps you can take to keep them from hanging around is the best way to prevent pigeon damage or the annoyance of having a large flock around.
Checking regularly for pigeons in all the likely nesting spots helps you stay ahead of any issues. Also, try using more than one deterrent method, it’ll be more effective if pigeons do show up in droves.
Whether you are battling pigeons in the city or on a farm I hope some of these solutions work for you!
Gompertz, Terry. “Some Observations on the feral pigeon in London (With Addendum: Two cases of polyneuritis in Feral Pigeons. Derek Goodwin).” Bird Study 4.1 (1957): 2-13.
Brewster, William. “The present status of the wild pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) as a bird of the United States, with some notes on its habits.” The Auk 6.4 (1889): 285-291.
Spennemann, Dirk HR, and Maggie J. Watson. “Dietary habits of urban pigeons (Columba livia) and implications of excreta pH–a review.” European Journal of Ecology 3.1 (2017): 27-41.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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