Pigeons are often commonly referred to as “rats with wings,” and for good reasons. They scavenge for food, defecate everywhere, spread diseases, and not only that, but they get into places like roofs or attics and trash the place.
This article is a quick guide on how to stop pigeons from nesting.
Methods to control pigeons from nesting are proactive or reactive. Examples include placing anti-bird spikes, bird nets and mesh, spices, reflective tape, wind chimes, and fake predators. Alternatively, getting a cat to catch and deter pigeons or, in dire situations, hiring a pest control company.
By undertaking proactive and reactive measures, you can mitigate the damages that pigeons’ nesting causes. But what are the risks posed by pigeons nesting, where do they prefer to nest, and why, specifically, do pigeons nest in our homes and buildings?
Proactive and Reactive Methods to Stop Pigeons from Nesting
Many homeowners can attest to the issues that pigeons bring when they begin nesting in and around your house.
Pigeons are part of the Columbidae family, and with doves, constitute around 316 species globally. They can make use of various habitats, including forests and open plains.
A pigeon’s diet usually consists of fruit and seeds, but some eat invertebrates and food that humans throw away.
In the USA, there are seven indigenous species of pigeons and doves, which include:
- Band-tailed pigeons (Columba fasciata)
- Ground doves (Columbigallina passerina)
- Inca doves (Columbina inca)
- Mourning doves (Zenaidura macroura)
- Red-billed pigeons (Patagioenas flavirostris)
- White-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica)
- White-crowned pigeons (Columba leucocephala)
The Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is an extinct species that previously occurred in the USA.
A widespread introduced species is the Rock or feral pigeon (Columba livia). Some other species which often escape captivity and form feral populations include:
- Eurasian Collared doves (Streptopelia decaocto)
- Ringed turtle doves (Streptopelia risoria)
- Spotted doves (Streptopelia chinensis)
- Turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur)
If you have a pigeon nesting around your home, there is a good chance that it is a feral pigeon. These birds are domesticated and thrive in human environments.
Proactive Methods to Prevent Pigeons From Nesting
When we proactively manage an issue, we prevent a potential circumstance from ever becoming an issue in the first place.
We can prevent pigeons from nesting altogether by actively putting measures in place.
Some proactive measures to put in place include:
Letting Pigeons Know They Are Not Welcome
The first step to proactively protect your house from pigeons is by sending a clear message that they are not welcome.
There are a few items on the market that assist in this process, including:
- Anti-bird Roosting Spikes
Anti-bird/roosting spikes are an effective tool that is relatively cheap and easy to attach to walls, roofs, and other areas where pigeons will attempt to sit.
The pros to these are that they are relatively cheap, and they are pretty effective bird deterrents. A point against these spikes is that they look pretty horrible.
- Reflective Tape/Objects
Reflective tape is another option for keeping pigeons from nesting close to areas you’d prefer they did not.
This tape catches the sunlight and frightens pigeons, preventing them from settling down and building a nest within proximity.
There are a few products on the market, which work in a similar fashion to the tape, by reflecting sunlight.
The advantage of these reflective devices is that they are not as unsightly as the bird spikes. Pigeons may, however, realize that there is no actual threat from these items and ignore them.
- Bird Meshing, Nets, and Wire
Putting up bird meshing and nets is a drastic option but effective nonetheless. These nets create a literal barrier that prevents pigeons from entering that particular space.
These nets are usually used in blocking off potential nesting/roosting spots and work well in preventing birds from getting in.
A disadvantage is that windows are blocked, and meshing covering chimneys may deteriorate from the smoke.
- Anti-bird Gel
There are also gel repellents available on the market. These gels are smeared on walls, roofs, and other areas pigeons may land.
Due to the sticky substance, pigeons don’t like to stand on this gel and fly off immediately.
These gels last for a few weeks and are transparent, so they are not an eyesore.
However, it would be best not to use these gels in areas where humans and pets frequent as the sticky substance does not wear off quickly.
- Motion Detection Sprayers
Motion-activated sprinklers are another idea to control pigeons. When the pigeon comes within range, the sprinkler activates and douses the area in water.
Although effective for your garden, this won’t help much in areas where the sprinkler does not reach.
- Electrical Tape for Birds
Depending on your ethical views, a pigeon electric tape is also an effective tool. The desired length is rolled out and placed on a surface that pigeons usually land on.
Some products are pre-charged, while others connect to a small battery. The pigeon lands, the tape gives it a slight jolt, and the pigeon flies off.
This tape is cheap, effective, and transparent; however, it may also jolt people and pets if placed on a balcony within reach.
- Alternative Control Measures to Store-bought Options
- Get a cat. If you can do so, buy a cat. A cat will help deter pigeons from moving in. Although quite effective, getting a cat to control your pigeon population is not recommended. Cats bring a host of responsibilities and issues of their own.
- Like getting a cat, a fake (toy) predator could also deter pigeons. Rubber snakes or birds of prey can help frighten pigeons. This is an affordable option; however, pigeons quickly learn that there is no real threat from a toy and may ignore it.
- The use of potent odor spices is also deemed to deter pigeons. Spices like black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon can be sprinkled along the areas where pigeons roost/frequent. These spices can also be made into a spray-on mixture with water and vinegar and sprayed in locations where pigeons are not wanted.
- Erecting wind chimes or other items that move or emit noise in the wind helps deter pigeons. This method works well if you cannot modify the area you are staying in. This is a cheap method to employ. Its effectiveness is, however, limited to windy conditions. Wind chimes can be noisy so consider your neighbours before using these as a deterrent.
- Making Sure Your House Has Been Pigeon-Proofed
Pigeon proofing your area works in conjunction with purchasing deterrents that will hopefully keep pigeons out of your yard (or at the least ensure they do not nest anywhere nearby).
Some methods for pigeon proofing include:
- Ensure that any access holes in your roof are fixed and plugged up. If pigeons can nest in the eaves, try boarding them up.
- Make sure that your trash is not exposed. Pigeons are scavengers and won’t pass up the opportunity of sifting through garbage for a tasty morsel. By ensuring that all other food is securely stored/discarded, pigeons are less likely to come for a visit.
- Feed your pets inside to prevent excess food waste from accumulating, thereby attracting pigeons to your yard.
- Conduct vigorous checks of your house. The simplest way to find out if you have a pigeon problem developing is to check areas of your home frequently. This will help you establish whether or not pigeons are getting in anywhere and allow you to make adjustments.
Reactive Methods for Pigeons Nesting
If pigeons have already settled into an area, and have begun to build nests, then proactive measures won’t help much.
Instead, the problem needs to be removed. Once the pigeons have been taken care of, proactive measures can be implemented to prevent them from returning.
Unfortunately (for some), shooting native pigeons is not legal in the United States, which means other, lethal, or non-lethal methods of removal need to be employed.
Some of the ways for dealing with unwelcome pigeon nests include:
- Calling in a Pest Control Company
This is the most expensive option, but, in some situations, this may be the best, or only, means of eradicating pigeons from your buildings.
When choosing a company, care needs to be taken, as some are not always thorough or may use methods you disagree with.
- Using an Ultra-sonic Device
This method has been used effectively in the agricultural industry and warehouses, and it has recently become an option for homeowners.
By emitting sounds, pigeons are deterred and driven away from the noise source.
Some of these noises are either pigeon alarm calls or predator sounds, while others use frequencies that pigeons cannot tolerate and move away from.
Depending on the product used, this method can also be expensive and drastic, but they are effective when installed by a reputable pest control company.
- Getting a Cat to Hunt the Pigeons
Introducing a predator is a good solution if you need to remove pigeons.
Although snakes would probably be the best option (they quickly slither through roofs and tight spaces), this may not work for everyone.
An alternative solution is to get a pet cat. The presence of a cat will chase away all but the most determined pigeons, which the cat may catch and eat at some point as well.
The most significant shortcoming is you’ll end up with a pet cat, which, if it’s something you don’t mind, then this option could work.
- Using Strong Smelling Spices
Much the same as using spices to prevent pigeons from nesting in the first place, they can be used to evict unwelcome birds.
If you already have pigeons nesting, the use of potent smelling spices (chilies, peppers, and cinnamon) in either a dry or solution form in the areas they are nesting in should eradicate them.
Typical Sites in Which Pigeons Build Their Nests
Different pigeon species will nest in various locations. Their nests are generally built out of twigs and are classified as “platform nests” because of their shape and design.
Pigeons typically lay between one and two eggs in these nests.
Some examples of areas in which pigeons frequently build their nests include:
- On rocky outcroppings/ledges on the side of cliffs.
- In the crooks of large trees.
- Around human settlements, including building ledges, beams, under eaves, inside barns, rafters, rain gutters, stairwells, or under bridges.
The Consequence of Pigeons Nesting
If pigeons are left to their own devices when it comes to nesting, there are some ramifications we can expect to incur.
Depending on where a pigeon decides to nest will significantly determine the associated issues experienced.
Some consequences include:
- Pigeons defecate where they nest. If the nesting spot is inside your house, that’s where the poop will collect.
Hygiene reasons aside, bird feces are slightly acidic, resulting in damage to paint and wood over time.
If they poop on your car, the acid begins to damage the paint, which can become quite costly.
The accumulation of bird guano can result in ammonia buildups and other health-related issues developing, in addition to attracting flies, mice, and other undesirables.
- Pigeons are a prey species for snakes, raccoons (eggs), and wildcats.
By allowing pigeons to nest in your yard, you increase the probability of these predators following after their food.
- Some pigeons carry diseases and parasites. Mites and fleas are bad enough, but some pigeons can also carry diseases like histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis. All three are zoonotic (can be passed onto people).
Why Do Pigeons Nest in and Around Our Homes?
In the wild, pigeons would generally nest in areas that have rocky ledges, on mountainsides, or trees/branches.
Buildings like houses, offices, barns, and even garden sheds provide pigeons with structures that resemble their natural nesting sites.
The additional advantages of moving into the roof or attic of a house for pigeons are that these areas are warm, protected from the rain, sun, and wind, and are relatively predator-free.
These locations are also around a relatively permanent and reliable food source.
By replacing natural nesting sites with buildings and residential areas, pigeons are left with slim options in terms of survival. Their choices are move-in or die.
Pigeons nest all over human buildings, posing severe health risks to people living close by. Methods to control pigeons from nesting are both preventative and extradite and include store-bought and homemade strategies. Pigeons and other animals are forced into these situations when humans develop further into natural areas and push the wildlife out.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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