Because they are so unpretentious, the Columba livia pigeons have become an integral part of any urban space. They have successfully settled everywhere: on farms and farming equipment, in the parks and on city squares, under constructions and near domestic bird feeders. Some compare pigeons with flying rats and even the most peaceful citizens consider poisoning these pests. In this review, we will explain how to get rid of pigeons permanently, what the scientists recommend and whether toxicants are really worth using. We will then cover the best pigeon deterrents: netting, spikes, an electric powered fence, a motion activated water sprinkler and chemical gel repellents, taking into account professional opinions and customers’ feedback.
Why are Pigeons Dangerous?
Excessive amounts of feces, which are both unaesthetic and harmful as they cause plants to die and metals to rust, are a sure sign of a flock’s presence. Pigeons can pollute grains in agricultural enterprises. Moreover, pigeons are carriers of such severe diseases as ornithosis, encephalitis, and salmonellosis. However, the University of Missouri experts consider that human infection is unlikely.
However, few people realize that a thick layer of pigeon feces on a cornice is a source of fungi. Histoplasmosis attacks human lungs and can lead to death.
It is obvious that you can eliminate the pigeons’ excessive begging. At least you should refrain from feeding them on your balcony, a habit adopted by many. To avoid nesting, never leave trash and old furniture accessible to these birds. Farmers must store grain properly and limit the birds’ access to water if possible.
How to Get Rid of Pigeons on Balcony, Cornice and in the Garden
It’s not very difficult to prevent pigeons from nesting although they are capable of fending off any notch or cavity. Try to make attic windows, ventilation hatches, cornices, window sills and similar surfaces uncomfortable to land on. Stainless steel, plastic or nylon netting with holes ¼ of an inch wide is suitable for that. You can protect architectural elements with the help of an ultraviolet-resistant polypropylene net with inch wide holes. It’s best to opt for a versatile black net or paint it to the color of the building. This method is not only effective but also long-lasting as the barrier will serve you for about ten years.
In household structures, the net is attached to the lower part of the rafters to prevent the birds from settling inside. If necessary, make slits on Velcro as doors. Hanging a plastic strip door curtain is also appropriate.
Adjusting the cornice angle to 45 degrees or more will help you get rid of pigeons knocking on your windows. Special polycarbonate plates suitable for any L-shaped projections are available. These plates can be glued or nailed to any surfaces. Such simple engineering won’t let the birds land on the building.
Plastic or stainless steel bird spikes are another option. Their sharp teeth are an insurmountable barrier for almost all bird species. The spikes are just as universal as the nets as they can be attached to any surface on their own or with the help of glue. Clean the spikes regularly so that they do not lose their properties.
If neither spikes nor nets seem aesthetical to you, use stainless birdwire. The wire is to be hung between metal poles supplied together with the coil so that it springs slightly. This minimalistic design is appropriate even on handrails or facades of ancient buildings.
Specialists also mention electric shock bird control systems among physical barriers. David E. Williams and Robert M. Corrigan claim that when pigeons make contact with the conductors and the cable, they receive a shock that repels but does not kill them. The cable can be installed in situations also suitable for porcupine wires and stretched steel wires or monofilament lines. Although these devices and their installation are usually labor intensive and/or expensive, their effectiveness in some cases justifies the investment.
The service life of such a device is about eight years. Despite guarantee of safety, the device is more suited for deserted places, such as industrial venues or roofs.
To summarize, we’d like to say that physical barriers are the most effective method of pigeon removal.
Visual and Sonic Methods
Pigeons are not wood birds so they can be scared off with neither loud noise or reflected light. Ultrasonic devices are tempting, but the scientists do not trust them. They advise not to waste money buying predator statues or acoustic systems.
The low price of pigeon repellents (some of the products available on Amazon.com cost ~$8) and usability (all you have to do is squeeze them on the cornice) attracts many users. Most of them have succeeded in getting rid of pests, but some are unsatisfied as the chemicals have their own drawbacks.
The main one is that they pose a potential threat to animals, even if they are non-toxic. The most popular sticky repellents can glue birds’ plumages preventing them from flying. This is especially dangerous for smaller species which can accidentally get into a pigeon sticky trap.
In addition, trash will stick to the treated area over time, so the birds will no longer feel discomfort on touching the sticky surface. However, some manufacturer noticed this and designed gels that get covered with a protective layer when in contact with the oxygen, thus prolonging their action. A single application is sufficient for a year of protection.
The dried repellent is difficult to clean off and it leaves stains. Nevertheless, a thick layer of it should be applied as the distance between the strips should not exceed three-four inches. It is recommended to protect the surface with a waterproof tape or plastic beforehand.
Naphthalene (do not confuse it with POB – Poradichloro benzene) is allowed for use in non-residential buildings for repelling pigeons. Its sharp artificial odor will make the entire flock leave. Five pounds of the concentrate are required to cover 2000 cubic feet. After the birds fly away, shut any holes through which they could potentially return. Remember that naphthalene is harmful for health, especially for allergy patients.
Comparative Chart of Methods and Deterrents
|How, When and Where Used Best||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|For protection of attic windows, ventilation hatches, cornices, window sills, flower beds and plantings.||Accessible, long-lasting, and versatile.||Unaesthetic.|
|On house cornices and city fences.||Prevent pests from landing on protected surfaces.||Unaesthetic, require regular cleaning.|
|On house cornices, handrails, fences, roofs, facades.||Repels birds effectively, is more appropriate and aesthetical than spikes.||Check the integrity of the wire regularly.|
Electric Shock Bird Control Systems
|To protect any surfaces or places attacked by pigeons||Are long-lasting as their life time is 8 years. They repel and do not kill birds.||Are expensive and suitable for deserted places, such as roofs and industrial venues.|
Chemical Repellents: Gels, Sprays, Naphthalene
|Various surfaces, e.g., cornices, roofs, handrails, lawns and monuments, can be treated.||Cause a lasting reflex of ever avoiding treated areas.||Some compounds are toxic and require proper application in accordance with the manual.|
Top-8 Pigeon Deterrents
Taking into account the specialists’ opinions, we’ve listed a variety of products to choose from for your particular situation: netting, spikes, an electric powered fence, a motion activated water sprinkler and chemical repellents.
BirdBlock Bird Netting Reusable Mesh Netting Bird Protection
Sometimes, simple but tested devices are way more effective than novelties. Certain users note that they have been able to remove pigeons on the balcony with the help of a regular net mounted on metal clamps. Black polypropylene net is ultraviolet-resistant and will last for several years. Fruit trees and plantings can also be covered with it as long as you fix the edges so that the birds do not get trapped. The net is sold in a roll; the larger it is, the higher the price.
BirdBlock Bird Netting, 28 feet x 28 feet: ~$42.99 Check the current price
Physical barriers are the best urban protection from pigeons. Even children can install some of them. For instance, it is enough to simply glue plastic spikes to the cornice. Polycarbonate and stainless steel spikes by Bird-X are popular on Amazon.com. The price depends on the material and length of spikes, varying from 10 to 100 feet. Plastic spikes create a denser fence, but they are more fragile so you’d better use metal ones against these audacious pests. Metal spikes can be attached even to irregular surfaces due to their flexibility. Invest into a set of spiked polypropylene strips 10x48.8 cm in size to protect fences and gates.
Plastic Polycarbonate Spikes: ~$12.69 Check the current price
Stainless Steel Spikes: ~$16.99 Check the current price
Bird Spikes - Set of 10 x 48.8 Cm Anti-climbing Security: ~$20.97 Check the current price
Fi-Shock EAC10A-FS Super 525 Energizer, 10-Acre
Above, we mentioned electric shock bird control systems among the products recommended by the scientists. A Fi-Shock electric powered fence charger is available on Amazon.com. This device creates an electric fence against small pets, such as rabbits or chickens. Judging by the reviews, it can be adjusted for deterring pigeons from the lot. Lux Occultus commented: "I have two of these units. In the country, I use one to keep critters off the deck and squirrels off the railings. In the city, I use one to keep pigeons off the railings." However, the manufacturer does not directly confirm the effectiveness of the device against pigeons. Moreover, you will have to buy shock tape separately.
Fi-Shock EAC10A-FS Super 525 Energizer, 10-Acre: ~$29.99 Check the current price
Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler with Day and Night Detection Modes
One can hardly invent anything better than a motion activated water sprinkler for lawn and open pool protection. The sprinkler has a 120-degree motion sensor that works even at night and repels both birds and small animals. Should the intruder approach closer than 35 feet, the sprinkler will release a jet of water. The device can also be set to a thirty-minute watering mode. The sprinkler requires four batteries and has barely any quality claims.
Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler: ~$60.40 Check the current price
Bird-X Bird-Proof Gel Repellent
If you don’t want to spoil the view out of the window with metal spikes on the cornice, opt for liquid nails. In theory, this gel can be used anywhere but the handrails or pool rails as their surface will become too sticky. Moreover, this transparent repellent darkens from dirt and dust so it can be hardly called invisible. Nevertheless, the gel is non-toxic and can be washed off relatively easy. A set of three tubes will be sufficient for a thirty feet long gel strip. Judging by the description, it’s enough to apply the gel once in 1.5 years given that you live in a moderate climate.
Bird-X Bird-Proof Gel Repellent: ~$14.75 (3-pack) Check the current price
Bird-X Bird Stop Liquid Deterrent
Methyl anthranilate, a safe component of essential oils and cosmetics, is the base of this repellent. Bird Stop is a concentrate of this substance and it therefore has a sharp smell and unpleasant taste. According to the manual, the repellent is to be dissolved in water and then sprayed over an open territory, such as garden, lawn, roof, over the siding or near vegetable plantings. The manufacturer assures that Bird Stop deters all of the common bird species, including pigeons. However, there is plenty of negative comments on Amazon.com: the users claim that the spray is useless against geese. In this case, the volume of the pack (one gallon) becomes a disadvantage. Nevertheless, Bird Stop can be recommended for use in rural areas where there are fewer pigeons than other pest birds. This is a humane alternative to toxicants.
Bird-X Bird Stop Liquid Bird Deterrent: ~$91.48 Check the current price
Best Pigeon Deterrents Comparative Chart
BirdBlock Bird Netting
|Netting||Use as a barrier and mount it to your balcony, cover plantings etc.|
Bird-X Plastic Polycarbonate Spikes Kit with Adhesive Glue
|Spikes||Install on a cornice or a windowsill.|
Bird-X Stainless Steel Spikes Kit
Bird Spikes - Set of 10 x 48.8 Cm Anti-climbing Security
|Spikes||For protecting fences and gates.|
Fi-Shock EAC10A-FS Super 525 Energizer
|Electric powered fence charger||As a barrier in places of birds' activities.|
Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler
|Motion activated water sprinkler||Connect to a water source and install on the lot across the objects to be protected.|
Bird-X Bird-Proof Gel Repellent
|Chemical repellents||Leave a strip of "liquid nails" on cornice and roof.|
Bird-X Liquid Deterrent
|Dissolve in water and spray over open areas, e.g. lawns, roofs etc.|
Should Pigeon Poison Be Used?
Physical destruction must be the most radical measure of pest control. However, before you act, clarify both the legal and sanitary aspect as although pigeons are not on the list of protected species, check your state legislation. If there is no ban on killing pigeons, think how to do it safely.
One of the options is to access exterminators as they are the only ones who have access to registered pigeon control toxicants. For instance, only USDA APHIS-Wildlife Services employees and contractors are permitted to use DRC-1339. Avitrol is one of the most effective pesticides; its use is also limited.
University of Florida’s William H. Kern explains that in order to get an Avitrol permit, you must adequately describe in your application how you will protect non-target birds from accidental poisoning. Be ready to scare away all non-target birds that come to the feeding station, even if it means scaring away pigeons. Protecting non-target birds is your responsibility. When Avitrol or any other avicide is used, have crews patrolling the area to collect downed birds quickly.
When looking for pigeon poison pellets, bear in mind that pets can become innocent victims of this poison, so it is rational to only use them away from residential areas, e.g. on farming and agricultural areas.
The University of Missouri scientists Robert A. Pierce and Kevin McGrath warn that a bird-control program using repellents and toxicants requires careful attention to detail. Be sure to follow all product label instructions when using repellents or toxicants. Do not take shortcuts, as they may be dangerous or cause the program to fail.
This product is not available on Amazon.com yet, but the idea is definitely worth your attention. In order to adjust the cornice’s angle and make it impossible for a bird to nest, BirdBarrier’s polycarbonate inclined plate can be used. It is available in beige and gray. The plate’s base is glued to or screwed to any L-shaped projection, be it a cornice, a beam or a piece of decoration. The lack of an even surface will make the birds search for a new home. The price for this barrier depends on the length and width of the plate and ranges from ~$22.50 to ~$218.30.