Updated on October 7, 2022
Few things are more annoying than walking down the street only for a pigeon to poop on you from overhead. Even worse, that poop can cover your car or property in a nasty, slimy goo. Pigeons can also end up hoarding birdseed from more desired species and are generally considered an urban and rural pest.
But fear not, we’re here to tell you how to get rid of pigeons and keep these critters away from your home.
Getting to Know Pigeons
While they’ve always had something of a bad reputation, pigeons have a more noble place in our history than you might expect. However, a growing lack of natural predators has made these birds a nuisance in cities around the world, despite a few species facing (or reaching) extinction due to human expansion.
Read Also: How to Get Rid of Starlings
What Does a Pigeon Look Like?
Pigeons consist of the 310-species Columbidae family. These birds are technically doves, with the rock dove and turtledove being the two most notable species. What exactly separates a pigeon from a dove is almost entirely aesthetic, with scientists usually going by size (doves being smaller), while secular and religious circles consider any dove that’s not entirely white to be a pigeon.
Regardless of which description you choose, all pigeons are edible (in Pittsburgh, PA, they’re even sometimes referred to as “Pittsburgh Chicken”) and have been used as a food animal for centuries. They’re also easy to domesticate, having been the first known bird to be made into pets.
What do Pigeons Eat?
City-based pigeons have become scavengers, giving up their normal diet for any scraps they can find, but generally prefer fruit and seeds. Many species have adapted to eat worms and insects, with at least one species preferring them.
Depending on the species, pigeons either prefer the ground or trees. However, one thing they all have in common is a habit of building rather flimsy nests out of twigs in which they’ll lay one to two eggs at a time.
These nests are generally kept in the same location the species prefers to roam, with species such as the rock dove choosing high ledges and rooftops when in an urban setting due to the shortage of trees.
On the whole, pigeons can be found in almost every part of the world, save for the most extremely hot or cold regions. Some species tend to be confined to small areas, while others have spread out alongside humans. The single most prevalent species is the rock dove, which can be found throughout the world in large numbers.
The Pigeon Dilemma
Pigeons are extremely resourceful and surprisingly intelligent. As a result, they’ve learned to cope with human expansion and adapt to urban settings easily. Unfortunately, this means they can become quite the nuisance.
Healthy pigeon poop has no smell, but urban pigeons are scavengers and often victim to disease and birth defects. Their poop can get very runny and contain high acidity, wreaking havok on your clean car, windows, walls, and sidewalks. The acidity can even degrade stone, concrete, and other materials over time.
In addition, pigeons are one of the most likely birds to be inflicted with bird mites which in turn can make their way into homes.
Due to the lack of natural predators, pigeons tend to quickly overpopulate urban and rural areas. They’ll congregate wherever food is available, making it more difficult to attract songbirds. They can be noisy, messy, and go after that pie you just sat out to cool. In other words, pigeons, like relatives, are often best loved at a distance.
Related: Stop Barn Swallows From Nesting on Your House
How to Get Rid of Pigeons
Getting rid of pigeons is a lot easier than it might first seem, although it can take a bit of time to get rid of larger infestations. Here are just a few of the ways to get pigeons off of your property.
A pigeon trap works the same way as other humane critter traps. Simply set it up, add some attractive food (fruits, vegetables, and cracked corn are some tasty options) for bait, and then wait.
Many of these traps, such as the Tomahawk Pigeon Trap, have entrances on opposite sides, allowing you to catch a pigeon per door before having to empty the trap. Just make sure to transport the pigeons a few miles away before releasing, as they’re pretty good at finding their way back.
Another popular trap is a trigger type trap which catches them in a net. It’s a little harder to set up but you can get the same results at a fraction of the cost.
Pigeons on the Balcony
You can use a slinky or insulation wire on the railing to help keep pigeons from perching there. Simply spread the wire so each loop is about 1.5 inches apart. You can then use duct tape to attach it to the railing at 2/3 inch intervals.
While a simple tactic, pigeons find it quite uncomfortable to land on. Ensure there’s no attractive food source present, and you’ll easily be able to keep pigeons off the balcony.
Pigeons on the Roof
It’s actually not difficult to keep a pigeon from roosting on your roof. The most popular answer is to use anti-roosting spike strips, which can be purchased at many hardware or garden shops. These spikes aren’t sharp, but they make it difficult for the pigeon to land.
Read Also: How to Keep Crows Away
The Truth About Popular Kill Methods
You might hear people suggesting easy ways to kill pigeons, but these methods are not only cruel in intent, they can sometimes affect other species you may not want to kill. Here are three of the most popular suggestions for killing pigeons and why you shouldn’t use them:
- Alka-Seltzer – Despite their old motto, Alka Seltzer will not rescue you from pigeons. This myth was based on the idea that birds can’t pass gas and therefore the antacid would expand until the bird explodes. In reality, however, they can simply regurgitate the foamy mess using the same techniques they use for feeding their young.
- Poison – Poison is a big no-no. Even if you’re trying to feed the target pigeon by hand, it’s an easy matter for a sparrow or other bird to swoop in and snatch the poisoned food. Even worse, leaving poison out for the pigeon exposes every nearby critter to the risk of ingestion and sickness or death.
- Rice – This is a very popular old wives’ tale. Rice won’t kill a bird and is actually part of many species’ diets. Despite what popular takes claim, uncooked rice takes a long time to soak up liquids. By the time it could potentially become a threat to the bird, they’ll have either digested or passed the grains. Use this method only if you really like having pigeons around.
How to Keep Pigeons Away
Simply getting rid of pigeons isn’t enough, as they have a habit of returning no matter how many times you kick them out. Using visual deterrents and chemical or herbal repellents will help keep these pesky critters from turning your home into a gathering spot.
It can also help to make your property as uninviting as possible by removing those things which can attract pigeons in the first place.
See Also: How to Keep Sparrows Away
As bold as pigeons are around humans, they can easily be scared away at the sight of potential predators. Try placing a ceramic owl or fake snake in places they’re prone to congregate. As with other pests, it’s a good idea to shift these decoys around occasionally so the birds don’t suspect they’re just decor.
A kite with a hawk shape can also be used to scare pigeons away, as they resemble a predator in flight. Foil balloons and other reflective objects can make life difficult for pigeons and other birds, as they have trouble seeing when near these surfaces.
Further options can also work against other critters, such as installing a motion-sensitive water sprinkler. These are great because it means it waters your lawn or garden at the same time it scares away pests. Sonic deterrents do a great job, but can irritate any four-legged family members, so they’re not for everyone.
See Also: How to Keep Geese Away
Many predator sprays and crystals will work on pigeons, if the species is a potential bird hunter. These products are either concentrated urine or chemical replications of urine. Pigeons and other pests will get a whiff and believe a hunter is on the loose. However, these products don’t always work and can wash out when it rains.
A homemade pigeon repellent with a great track record can be quite easy to make and works well against a variety of other pests.
Begin by mincing two dozen chili peppers and add them to a half gallon of water. Shake well and place in direct sunlight to ferment for five days. Finally, add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the mix and shake again, then spray your plants or surfaces with it.
The capsicum will irritate a pigeon’s (or other critter’s) feet and discourage them from returning to that spot. Spray every few days to keep the effect going.
There’s a really nice option on the market for repelling pigeons and other birds hoping to perch on your railings. This bird repellent gel can be applied to surfaces, making them either slippery, sticky or tacky. The gel paste won’t harm the bird, but stepping on the texture will drive a bird nuts (have you ever seen a cat step in something sticky?), making them reluctant to land on that spot again.
By far, one of the best ways to keep a pigeon away is to make him less interested in being there to begin with. Get rid of any standing water, which can be a means for both drinking and bathing. You will also want to make sure all trash is covered and inaccessible to avoid any free snacks.
Bird feeders will always prove an issue, although you can purchase designs with small entrances which are only big enough for songbirds to enter. Your garden can also be a problem as there’s no way to hide crops from prying eyes, but you can add netting to prevent pigeons from getting at your tomatoes.
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39 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Pigeons”
To all the people who’ve unsuccessfully tried everything else… what about a cat? If your pigeon/dove problem is on a balcony/patio/etc I’d think having a cat out there much of the day, every day, would keep them away.
Yea except having cats on high rise apt buildings isn’t a safe option.
Nope…my neighbor has 3 or 4 cats. The pigeons don’t care. Unfortunately, she keeps loading up the bird feeders, so, of course, the pigeons come back. Now she’s trying to get rid of them, but keep the other birds coming. I’ll tell her about the vinegar in a spray gun and see if that works. Unfortunately, there is someone nearby who owns these pigeons, but they love my neighborhood.
These pigeons do not fear anything. Got a fake owl and they laughed at it. Sprinkled chili pepper and cinnamon up there and it did not affect them.
@ Michael. Have you tried cinnamon, peppermint oil and citronella oil? Make a potion of that up (maybe with vinegar again) and buy a portable jet wash and spray the damn things. Pigeons have weak lungs apparently, and the smell will hurt them. Don’t dilute the potion too much. Also, have you tried anti-bird reflective tape – I am trialling it and so far it looks like it may be helping to keep my flock of 30-40 pigeons and doves that land and sit on my roof 20 times daily away.
I have health problems and pigeons poop so much on my window (And big ledge) I could not stay in some rooms in my apartment as the wind would blow over the poop and into my apartment, I had to almost take the apartment building to court just to clean 2 out of the 3 windows, but I still can not get rid of them, so they come back, I have tried chili peppers, bleach, pine sol, I have even strayed them with bug spray, water, put out those pigeon gel spots (Where I could reach) and nothing has stopped them, I have even tried hitting them with a pole, but again still nothing, I do not know what else to do, I can not afford to move, so besides getting a BB gun and shooting them I am at a loss, any suggestions? Thank you.
Hi! My friend has a pigeon built a nest with a hatchling on his porch. He needs it to be removed but doesn’t want to pay or risk it being killed. Any advice on how to remove it safely and where the best area would be to place the nest with the mom after being removed together. He lives in Downtown Portland. Thanks in advance!
Pigeons are so bad around here that it makes your skin crawl just walking through the factory. The’re bombarding everything in site with bird poop everything from phones to computers on the shop floor. They have pooped on the employees and even at the dinning tables on the shop floor. These things have to go. One time a family of hawks moved into the area and are bird problem went away almost over night. Bird feather falling from the rafters was a sight to see. The pigeons stayed away for several years but now they’re back with a vengeance and we’re at wits end on how to get rid of them.
I tried the bird repellent gel on my balcony. Worked for about a week. Now I have a sticky pole on my balcony and the pigeons treat it as if it’s an old friend…
Watergun with vinegar and I got rid more than 20 pigeons nesting on my balcony. They HATE the smell of Eau de Vinegar. I really enjoyed the week hitting pigeons with vinegar, it did not hurt them and for a year now I am pigeon-free.
I have to try that! Just this week the pigeons started building a nest under my covered BBQ on my balcony. I’d move it and they keep coming back ! First time in one year this has happened. Who needs this on top of everything else we have to worry about!
Thank you SO much! It’s simple and effective! I am here because today I have schooshed away same retarded pigeon 6 x in 30min – it’s decided today my balcony is going to be it’s NEST, dragging in twigs.
Now thanks to your advice:
Vinegar spay-gun = you’re my NEW best friend!
Definitely trying the vinegar in water gun trick, thanks! I do not want to climb up on the roof to install spikes or reflective tape or anything else I’ve read about, so I will try this first.
ty I will have to try. Have 3 pigeons that are making a nest on my balcony. Got rid of the nest and put up lots of shiny windmills, but they still keep coming back. They are driving me crazy.
Hello, I must try the vinegar solution. Can pls share what’s the vinegar dilution you used? thx
Straight vinegar? I’ve been using a long range water gun (shoots up to 5 metres) with water mixed with white vinegar . They fly when they see me coming but always return. I was afraid that if I use straight vinegar it would damage my roof and rafters.
I Live this idea! I’m going to buy a super soaker!!! My neighbor feeds them, so they wait on my rooftop for the food???
I have pigeons in my roof. They are so noisy it sounds like thr r people up thr stomping around
It looks like a property next to mine is installing a huge number of pigeon coops, probably over a hundred so far! I have two balconies and a large roof terrace facing this property and am concerned about the health risks. I have sent an email to the council asking if this is allowed, but any advice?? I live in Spain.
The laws may vary from region to region, country to country, so my advice may be a bit limited.
In the US, breeders usually need some form of permit or license. In addition, the pigeons are usually kept inside the coops and may even have their flight feathers clipped to reduce the risk of escape. What this means for you would be a greatly reduced risk of exposure to feces or other pigeon-related problems.
Permits also often include inspection requirements to ensure proper sanitary conditions. Again, I can’t promise the same will be true for your location, but the council can order periodic health inspections even if a permit is unnecessary.
Buy children’s windmills aka Whirligigs from the dollar store and attach them to the railing. They’re pretty and will keep the pigeons from landing 🙂
I put a great bird feeding station in my backyard and enjoy watching all of the birds having a ball at the “buffet “. The bad part are the pigeons. They take over the food and scare the little birds away. I need to find a way to deter the pigeons but keep the songbirds.
I have the same problem. Those pigeons are nasty. My father had hystoplasmosis a disease which pigeons carry and he had to have part of his lung removed. I put away the bird feeder – trying that for a few days. Good luck to you too
Forget about ever feeding the birds again. Once the pigeons discover you have food they will wait and watch so they can swoop down and eat everything. They cannot be detered. I have tried spraying them with the hose, letting my dogs out to chase them and even trying to chase them myself. They are brainless eating machines.
I’ve you tried killing them?…I mean if they’re dead they cant comer back….id even dry the corpse and hang it nearby so their relatives know, BEWARE xD
Buy a caged bird feeder that only lets small songbirds inside to feed
Are there companies out there that can install spike kits on your roof to keep the pigeons away? Can you refer someone in CA Bay Area?
Do Google search for it — there is a Bay Area company called Smith’s Pest Management but there may be others too
We’ve had a pigeon live on our balcony for over a year. It has a red band on one leg. Not sure why. I’m trying to figure how to get rid of it. It poops mountains on my balcony. We tried the fake owl and the chili powder…both did not work. What do I do??
The red band indicates it is a private owned pigeon. Which means it is not easily scared.
All pigeon owners who register with a club will be offered to buy Registration bands they can put on their pigeons.
We have 5 pigeons nesting under our solar panels for over 10 months. I had a company come out 4 days ago to do a cleanup and install a mesh wire around the panels. Those pigeons came right back and is still sitting on top of the mesh wire. I don’t know what to do know…:(
Those are some determined pigeons. A spikes kit (like this one) would be my next recommendation.
Carol I have done the same but they are back ..did you ever get rid of them.
See my comment above for a cheap fix.
I mix Clorox liquid about a cup, with half a cup of Epsom salt crystals, mixed wit 10 times water. This really works to keep chipmunks away and is working for the pigeons on my balcony at m lakeside condo. It is safe for birds. the smell deters them and the salt irritates their feet. I repeat after heavy rain or if I notice them back again.
Hope it works for you. It does for me.
I live in a large, modern Retirement village. Each of 62 apartments has a balcony which attracts pigeons. How can they be deterred from landing on the rail? We cannot put anything too obvious.
One good way that’s not noticeable is tying a string about an inch above the railing that runs the length of the railing. This will keep them from landing there.
Use heavy fishing line and put it around the top of the balcony railing about 2-3 inches above the railing and parallel with the railing. Since pigeons like to be up high to see predators and because they aren’t perching birds, they cannot land on the fishing line and so will pass on YOUR balcony for another. I have it around my wooden balcony posts on either end, back and forth over my balcony rail 3-4 times. You can use it on the bottom, too, if they try coming under.
Buy children’s windmills aka Whirligigs from the dollar store and attach them to the railing. They’re pretty and will keep the pigeons from landing 🙂