Humane Ways to Keep Pigeons Off Your Property

By Steve Graham, Hometalk

Pigeons may be as integral to city living as traffic and pollution, and perhaps as annoying and potentially dangerous. These birds can cause property damage and carry diseases. However, there are humane ways to minimize pigeon damage and risks. We’ve also explored some alleged solutions that simply don’t work or are not recommended.

The problems with pigeons

Pigeons often carry salmonella and other diseases. Their nests can harbor bird mites, bed bugs and other biting, disease-carrying insects. Pigeon droppings also are highly acidic, and can damage car paint and buildings.  According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, pigeon droppings can carry funguses or bacteria that cause the human diseases cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis and psittacosis.  Exposure to these diseases happens primarily when cleaning up pigeon droppings.

Solutions that work

You may have noticed that pigeons are everywhere. Getting rid of all the pigeons may be unrealistic. You can reduce nesting populations in your immediate area by inspecting your property for nests, and removing nests and eggs every two weeks. More importantly, focus on keeping pigeons out of buildings and other spaces.

  • Wire mesh and wire: Screen all soffit vents and other potential entry points with rust-proof wire mesh. University of Florida professor William Kern also recommends suspending a thin wire or monofilament about two inches above a railing or other potential roost, or adding sticky substances, deterring pigeons from resting on the rails.
  • Sheet metal: To keep pigeons off ledges and other flat potential roosts, cover them with a sloping piece of sheet metal. A slanted metal board doesn’t make much of a roost.
  • Bird netting: Another option is to use bird netting to seal off spaces above barn rafters and other potential roosts.
  • Scare-pigeons: The pigeon equivalent of scarecrows also may be an option. Among the most effective “scare-pigeons” are kites with hawk silhouettes and light Mylar streamers. Both move easily in the wind, scaring off birds. On the other hand, pigeons will quickly grow accustomed to a model owl that sits in one spot for a while.
  • Spray pigeons with water: Kern even recommends spraying pigeons with a water hose, but notes that the birds must be sprayed upon arrival, before they start to establish a regular roosting spot. Once they have established a roost, your impromptu showers won’t keep them from going home.
  • Pigeon traps: If you fail to exclude pigeons or prevent roosting, you may need to make a trap or buy a commercial trap. Be sure to check each trap at least once a day, and leave water in the trap, to attract more birds and minimize stress on any birds that get caught. Also immediately release all other birds you were not aiming to catch.

Solutions that don’t work

Though pigeons can cause damage and carry diseases, they also can be effectively controlled. However, not every alleged pigeon control works.  Here are a few urban legends:

  • Loud noises: Loud noises have been suggested for controlling birds, but they are more likely to annoy neighbors than pigeons. City birds are used to city noises, and don’t seem to startle easily.
  • Ultrasonic noises: Ultrasonic noises that humans cannot hear may avoid annoying the neighbors, but Kern notes that ultrasonic sound waves bounce off objects, creating spots where pigeons can avoid the sound. Also, ultrasonic devices may damage the hearing of cats and dogs.
  • Distress calls: There are no effective distress calls that can be used to target pigeons.
  • Poison and chemical repellents: Pigeon poisons and chemical repellents are available, but they are strictly controlled for several reasons. They can kill or sicken other birds or animals, or even somebody’s prized racing pigeon (yes, there are pigeons racing clubs. If you trap a tagged pigeon, click here for information on returning the birds).

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Carolyn Ray
Carolyn Ray4 years ago

What kind of light mylar streamer? Where can I find it? We have a studio in a warehouse with big windows, and need something that will keep the birds out when the weather is nice and the windows are open. We currently have cd's hanging down and it has been successful, but they have begun to peel and they bang against the old glass windows and we are afraid they will break. Do you suggest any other solutions?
Thanks for letting me know.

Chris Ray
Chris R7 years ago

Thanks Chaya!~

Brigid C.
Brigid C7 years ago

good advice. I am one that thinks everything is here for a purpose, not sure what the pigeon's is but there must be one.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare7 years ago

I dont understand why anyone would want to get rid of pigeons :/
We used to feed pigeons all the time in our backyard, and then my mom claimed its causing Avril (our cat) distress and anxiety because she wouldnt nap and stare at them instead -.-
So we just started putting their feed on an empty land lot thats right next to our house. I'm not saying they stopped coming whatsoever, but their numbers decreased signifcantly and Avril started napping again.
P.S: we went back to putting the feed IN our backyard because Avril now finds it entertaining.

Caitlin C.
Caitlin C7 years ago

Some pigeons live in my town by the old hotel but they poison them :( I want pigeons to live by my house instead! oh and @Lu Ann P I wouldn't put chip sparrows over pigeons. never. I love most plants and animals that are considered pests (pigeons, dandelions, rats, etc.) Also DOVES ARE PIGEONS so if you love doves, you have to love pigeons.

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Z7 years ago

Pigeons are urban pests. They are rats with wings. After all I think the eradication of pigeons should be done humanely, as much advice in this article.

Theresa C.
Theresa C7 years ago

I like having pigeons around :)
But still, thanks for the tips... You can't ALWAYS be in the mood for them

Danica R.
Danica R7 years ago

thanks for the tips but i find humans more of a pest

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B7 years ago

Noted with interest.

Giovanna M.
Giovanna M7 years ago

I guess I'm one of those who believes we should start controling human population rather than pigeons. Maybe we're less prone to be salmonella carriers we are far more dirty, pollutant and annoying or noisy than any pigeon can be. ANd we breed in much higher numbers, and we make our homes regardless of what was there first.
If pigeons are dirty is basicaly because they are so close to humans (seagulls and other "urban" birds are becoming "dirty" too since they're exposed to our wastes etc). Why not start taking responsability for our own mess instead of feeling disgusted by those creatures who have adapted to it? Because they've been successful?

All wild birds carry some diseases/parasites (nightingales and robins are full of ticks and other parasites, for example). So do we. The main difference is that we don't stick to our ecological niche while they do, that we complain when creatures catch extra things from us and spread the around (as long as it affects us).

I'm also a bit flabbergasted that a story under the title "Human ways to keep pigeons off your property" suggests chemicals and poisons.