A visit to the city isn’t quite complete without seeing a pigeon (or hundreds of pigeons) congregating on buildings, bridges, and park benches. These nuisance birds can also invade home feeders and farmyards.
While pigeons are annoying, you might love feeding and attracting other birds. So, what do you do? Scaring pigeons involves a multi-pronged approach that includes eliminating their loafing spots and excluding them from resting spaces. There are also a few scare tactics that are effective against pigeons but not other birds.
Let’s check out some ways to scare away those pesky pigeons while letting other songbirds stay comfortably perched at your bird feeder or around your yard.
- Pigeons often congregate on the eaves and ledges of buildings, where their presence can cause unsightly droppings and nesting materials.
- Scare tactics that normally work on birds are sometimes ineffective on pigeons.
- Choosing scare tactics specific to pigeons will keep them away without deterring other birds in the area.
Here’s Why You Need To Scare Away Pigeons
Pigeons are a nuisance, sure, but is it really necessary to scare them away? Most people would say yes. Pigeons can cause a variety of issues ranging from unsightly droppings to creating fire hazards.
Pigeon Droppings Are Corrosive
If you’ve ever visited a city or passed beneath an underpass, you’ve probably noticed some unsightly marks on these structures. This can usually be attributed to pigeons, who gather in massive flocks and loaf on flat surfaces on buildings and bridges.
Pigeon droppings aren’t just gross to see, they can actually cause damage if left untreated! Pigeon droppings are corrosive and will eat away at the metal of your home, shed, car, or garage. A large concentration of droppings can also kill vegetation.
So, not only is your home, balcony, and car at risk from pigeons but your garden and flowerbeds are too! Our guide on easy tips to stop pigeons from pooping on your balcony can help you figure out how to stop these corrosive landmines from landing on your property.
Chimney Blockage From Pigeons Is A Fire Hazard
When choosing a loafing spot, pigeons look for a flat surface. The top of your chimney certainly fits the bill, and the warm air coming out the top can be quite attractive in the winter.
Unfortunately, pigeons will bring sticks and dried vegetation to their loafing spots, which can create a fire hazard if they fall down and clog the chimney. Not to mention the many droppings that are bound to end up down your chimney.
Pigeons can Ruin your Gutters
In addition to taking over your chimney, pigeons may decide to nest or loaf on your home’s gutter system. The buildup of sticks, vegetation, and other nesting materials can clog your gutters or even make them heavy enough to sag down.
If enough pigeons loaf on your gutters, their weight can also bring your gutters down. For a more complete list of where these birds hang out, head over to our article on where pigeons really go and live during the day.
Scare Pigeons Using These 7 Methods
Deterring pigeons is one thing, but deterring pigeons while not repelling other birds takes some careful consideration. One major difference between pigeons and other birds is that pigeons like to hang out on buildings as opposed to in trees.
This is where we find a chink in their armor!
Focus any and all scare tactics on the areas where pigeons perch and loaf. This way, you deter pigeons without scaring away other birds.
1. Reflective Tape
Most birds rely heavily on their sense of vision to navigate, locate food, and find mates. Reflective tape works by disorienting and scaring birds when it reflects off the sun.
BRITENWAY Premium Quality Bird Deterrent Reflective Scare Tape is double-sided and can be hung or wrapped around objects. To ensure you don’t scare away other birds, use this tape in nesting, perching, and loafing areas only:
You can read more about the most common places where pigeons nest near your home for a complete list of their favorite hangouts.
2. Use Sheet Metal On Ledges
Pigeons use ledges to perch while hanging out with other members of their flock. You can scare pigeons away from ledges by creating steep angles with sheet metal.
ZOFORTY Aluminum Sheet Metal can be used to increase the angle on ledges to make it impossible, or at least very difficult, for pigeons to land. The University of Missouri recommends creating 45-degree angles or steeper ones to scare off pigeons.
3. Use Colorful Netting On Rafters
If you want to scare pigeons away from your rafters, try using colorful netting. Pigeons are very perceptive of color and can see every color that humans can plus ultraviolet.
Placing colorful netting beneath your rafters not only acts as a physical deterrent but as a scary repellent as well. Try out HTZNMB Decorative Fence Net on your rafters, or block off other interior areas where pigeons congregate.
Concentrate your netting only in areas where pigeons perch, not other birds. This will help keep your songbirds around while repelling those pesky pigeons!
4. Use Bird Spikes On Loafing And Nesting Areas
When pigeons look for a place to nest or rest, they try to find something in the environment that resembles their favorite roosting spots in the wild – caves and cliffs. This can mean under roofing eaves, in attics, on window ledges, and in stairwells.
Bird spikes can be placed in these areas to scare pigeons away from their favorite roosting areas. This may encourage them to find another place to hang out, far away from your home.
BORHOOD Bird Spikes are an excellent choice and come in a 20-pack. Make sure to keep the spikes clean by removing debris that gets trapped in the spikes. If too much debris builds up, the spikes will no longer be useful at scaring pigeons away.
For a closer look at the nesting habits of pigeons, check out our article on how long pigeons nest for.
5. Flashing Lights
We mentioned before that pigeons can see a wide range of colors. Colorful flashing lights can be used to scare pigeons away from certain areas. This is especially effective at preventing pigeons from using your rafters and eaves as roosting spots.
Aolyty Solar Strobe Warning Light is solar powered and flashes blue light. This isn’t the best option for placing out in the open where it can annoy you or your neighbors, but it can work in closed-off areas like rafters and near outbuildings.
6. Colorful Strips Of Cloth And Pinwheels
Colorful netting is a great option, but you can also use colorful strips of cloth and pinwheels to scare pigeons away from certain areas. Try cutting strips from old towels or shirts that you would otherwise throw away. The more brightly colored, the better.
Tie the strips to areas where pigeons hang out, such as near your gutters, under roof eaves, and near attic vents and windows. Similarly, place colorful or reflective pinwheels in these areas.
As an added scare factor, the strips of cloth and pinwheels will move with the wind, creating sporadic movement that can startle and scare pigeons away.
7. Scent Deterrents
Most birds do not have a great sense of smell. However, a study from the European Geosciences Union found that pigeons may use their olfactory system to find their way back home after traveling great distances.
This is great news for those trying to repel pigeons! You can use specific scents to keep pigeons away from nesting areas. Some of the best scents to keep pigeons away include:
- Hot Peppers
- Black Pepper
You can read a complete list of smells in our article on the scents that pigeons hate.
What About Pigeon Repellent Gels?
One commonly used pigeon deterrent is the use of sticky gels and pastes that can be placed on areas where pigeons congregate. They are usually made from polybutene polymers and create an uncomfortable landing spot for birds.
These gels should not be used to scare pigeons away or to deter pigeons (or any type of bird or animal). The gel will adhere to their feathers (or an animal’s fur) and interfere with their ability to repel water and regulate temperature.
How To Stop Attracting Pigeons
Pigeons in the yard can be an extreme annoyance. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep these pesky birds away without scaring off songbirds.
While the suggestions below should certainly be attempted to repel pigeons, if they seem ineffective, consider reaching out to a professional to identify what is attracting pigeons to your yard and how you can effectively repel them.
Our nationwide pest control finder can help you out by connecting you with a local pest specialist.
Identify Why Pigeons Are In Your Yard
Pigeons typically have three zones that they hang out in each day. The first zone is where they search and find food. The second zone is where they congregate, loaf, and hang out. The third zone is where they roost and sleep for the night.
Surprisingly, these three zones can be miles apart from each other. If you see pigeons in your yard, try to identify which zone your property falls in. Are pigeons sleeping on your chimney? Eating from your birdfeeder? Or maybe they just hang out on your gutters.
Once you figure out what the pigeons are doing in your yard, you can determine what is attracting them and make plans to repel the pigeons or eliminate/modify the attractant.
Put Out Food That Pigeons Hate But Other Birds Like
If you want to draw other birds in, use food they enjoy, but pigeons do not:
|Kind of Bird Food
|Reason Pigeons Don’t Like It
|Mealworms are a source of animal protein, which is not a typical part of a pigeon’s natural diet.
|Pigeons find the bitter taste of safflower seeds unappealing.
|Pigeons have difficulty cracking open the tiny nyjer seeds.
|Pigeons find millet unpalatable due to its bland taste.
|Pigeons are not attracted to the high-fat content of suet.
|Nuts in the shell (peanuts)
|Pigeons do not like to work very hard for their food.
This plan isn’t foolproof, and pigeons that are very hungry may still eat this type of food. However, they are far less likely to visit feeders with this type of food.
Don’t Let Seeds Fall To The Ground
Pigeons are ground feeders, and since most bird feeders are quite messy, they provide these birds with plenty to eat along the ground. Nobody expects you to stand beneath your feeder with a broom and pan ready to clean every dropped seed.
And birds certainly aren’t getting any less messy!
Instead, consider using a catcher tray to catch any falling birdseed. Pranovo Bird Seed Catcher Tray can attach to your existing bird feeder and catch falling birdseed.
Invest In a Pigeon Proof Bird Feeder
Pigeons will never win a blue ribbon for their acrobatic abilities. Bird feeders that have very thin spokes for landing will not be attractive to pigeons because they will have trouble landing on them.
Bird feeders that have cages around them are also effective at keeping pigeons out but allowing smaller birds in. Combining a pigeon-proof bird feeder with food that is unattractive to pigeons is a double whammy that can really help repel these pesky birds.
Kingsyard Tube Feeders have small pegs for perching, which will make it difficult for pigeons to land.
Remove the Feeder For a Week
Pigeons are finicky about where they find their food. They are big and lazy, and they love it that way. If you find out that pigeons are using your yard to feed, then removing their food source will encourage them to seek it elsewhere.
This technique will not work if pigeons are using your buildings to roost or loaf.
Block Off Roosting And Loafing Areas
We already went over the places that attract pigeons for roosting, nesting, and loafing. Blocking these areas off will discourage pigeons from coming to your yard. Use things like hardware cloth, plastic netting, sheet metal, concrete, and screening to keep pigeons away from hot spots.
Remember, windowsills, rafters, eaves, gutters, chimney tops, and rooftops are all potential nesting spots for pigeons. Think of anywhere on your home that’s flat and elevated off the ground and block these areas off.
That’s All We’ve Got!
Pigeons can be a pesky nuisance to have around the home. Even if you don’t live in the city, pigeons can still plague your yard and house, leaving unsightly droppings behind and bullying other birds at the feeder.
If you want to scare pigeons away but allow other birds free reign of your yard, here’s a recap of 7 ways to do it:
- Reflective tape on roosting and loafing areas
- Create steep angles with sheet metal on ledges
- Use colorful netting on rafters
- Place bird spikes on resting and nesting areas
- Flashing lights in covered areas
- Colorful strips of cloth and pinwheels
- Scent deterrents
Combing these scare tactics with repellent practices will keep pesky pigeons away while letting smaller songbirds enjoy their time in your yard.
Haag-Wackernagel, D., & Geigenfeind, I. (2008). Protecting buildings against feral pigeons. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 54(4), 715–721.
Jenni-Eiermann, S., Heynen, D., & Schaub, M. (2014). Effect of an ultrasonic device on the behaviour and the stress hormone corticosterone in feral pigeons. Journal of Pest Science, 87(2), 315–322.
Haag-Wackernagel, D., & Bircher, A. J. (2010). Ectoparasites from Feral Pigeons Affecting Humans. Dermatology, 220(1), 82–92.
Harris, E., Crom, E. P. de, Labuschagne, J., & Wilson, A. (2016). Visual deterrents and physical barriers as non-lethal pigeon control on University of South Africa’s Muckleneuk campus. SpringerPlus, 5(1).
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