Want to know how to get rid of pigeons? We don't blame you. Whether pigeons have colonized your balcony or porch, their cooing presence can get really annoying. Although usually harmless themselves, pigeons produce a lot of droppings. If you've been unlucky enough to be chosen by pigeons as an attractive spot for roosting and are tired of cleaning your balcony/porch/front yard constantly, it may be time to think about robust deterrent measures to keep them away.
And while investing in the best pressure washer will at least help you keep your home exterior clean, learning how to deter pigeons will save you constantly cleaning up feathers and poop, daily. Here are some proven methods professional pest controllers and bird specialists recommend.
1. Cover your balcony with netting
This is the most recommended way to deter pigeons. As Zachary Smith, President of the San Jose-based pest control company Smith's Pest Management (opens in new tab), told us, it's also easily 'the most effective way to get rid of pigeons on small spaces like balconies.'
Netting is both highly effective and inconspicuous: 'When hung down from the roof to the sides of the balcony, netting forms a physical barrier that prevents pigeons from entering. It's pretty low-profile, and it won't block any views on your balcony -- it will just keep the pigeons out!'
2. Try spikes or other physical deterrents
Bird spikes (opens in new tab) may not be the prettiest solution, but if pigeons are roosting on your roof or fence, they can be a great solution. These are made from either steel or plastic and do not harm the pigeons – they just prevent them from ever landing wherever the spikes are installed. As Anne Keery, owner of PatioGateway.com (opens in new tab), advises, 'if you have the option to install them, go straight to bird spikes. While they are not the most attractive option, often if birds are perching above you, eliminating that surface will push them off - and out of your life! They rarely perch directly next to people, so if they can't perch above, and you regularly spend time next to them, your pigeon problem is eliminated.'
There are also bird slopes, slides, and other physical deterrents you can try that are a bit more visually appealing.
3. Try reflective tape
Don't like the sound of physical deterrents? If you think that spikes will cramp your home style, there's a less intrusive solution. Dr. Jordan Schaul (opens in new tab), a zoologist and veterinary scientist, recommends reflective tape (opens in new tab) 'and other innocuous reflective materials'; these 'serve as effective visual deterrents' while being completely invisible on your balcony or roof. Simply attach the reflective tape to the spots pigeons frequent – the reflections from the sun will deter pigeons from landing.
4. Invest in an ultrasonic deterrent
If pigeons are landing right next to or on your patio furniture, you may want to try an ultrasonic bird repeller (opens in new tab). Schaul gives these devices his seal of approval: 'they are easy to install, aesthetically appealing, and proven to be effective. These devices emit sounds that repel at targeted frequencies for nuisance avian species.' Obviously, their range is limited, so they'll only work in the immediate vicinity of where they are installed.
5. Try a gel repellent – with caution
If nothing else works, try a bird repeller gel (opens in new tab). It works by making the area where pigeons land sticky and unpleasant for them, so they'll learn to avoid it. Just be mindful of any smaller birds that frequent your home – they may get stuck in the gel permanently. However, if you know that you only get pigeons and larger birds like gulls, this can be an effective solution.
What is the most effective way to deter pigeons?
It has to be the netting. As Roger Dickens, Bird and Wildlife technical expert for Western Exterminator (opens in new tab), confirms, 'the overall, best and most humane method would be to close off the balcony area with bird netting. The netting is installed from the top of the balcony to the bottom; preventing the pigeons from being able to rest or roost on the railings, lighting, or other items on the balcony. The netting is virtually invisible from the ground and becomes unnoticeable at closer ranges.'
Do fake owls deter pigeons?
To an extent. Schaul explains that 'birds will eventually learn that fake predator decoys (e.g. owls) are not dangerous. However, these visual deterrents may work for a short period of time.'
You can prolong the effectiveness of your owl sculpture by moving it around. Dickens says that 'Pigeons will become aware that the owl isn’t moving. In nature, this is unnatural. If the owl doesn’t move for some reason or some time then the pigeons will begin to understand that it poses no threat and no harm to them.' So, change the position of your owl/hawk frequently, and you'll likely get a result.