Pigeons are ubiquitous; every park, town square, outdoor café, loading dock, and sky rise ledge has its own friendly flock of pigeons bobbing and cooing the day away. While there’s no denying the charm of the occasional pigeon, there’s also no denying the total mess and health risks a mass of pigeons can cause. The following is a comprehensive pigeon guide; follow along and you’ll understand the many troubles and difficulties pigeons cause and discover effective solutions for every kind of pigeon problem.
What Makes Pigeons Pests?
A pest is any species that is detrimental to human concerns. Measured against this definition, pigeons are clearly pestilential, especially in large numbers. In fact, by many measures, pigeons are the number one pest bird in the United States, causing more damage to public and private property than any other bird species around. Every urban area in the world boasts its own population of pigeons; New York City alone has a pigeon population estimated at over 1 million birds. One single pigeon produces 25 pounds of droppings each year; multiply that by 1 million pigeons and that adds up to a lot—25 million pounds—of pigeon poop. But it’s not just pigeon poop that causes problems; their nests and nesting materials create health risks and unsightly messes on ledges, rafters, and beams, under bridges, inside barns and other buildings that are open to the outdoors.
Why Get Rid of Pigeons?
Ok. So pigeons make a mess; what’s the big deal? The truth is, uncontrolled, unmanaged pigeon messes are a very big deal. Here’s why:
Pigeons Are a Health Risk
First, here’s a quick fact about pigeons and their droppings: 100 pigeons can create 2500 pounds of waste in one year and that waste may carry over 60 different transmittable diseases. Pigeon dung has been known to carry serious diseases such as histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis. This means that any property or location that stores, prepares, or serves food has a particular responsibility to keep their area clear of pigeons and their waste. Health inspectors can shut down a property when they find evidence of bird droppings or even if they suspect the presence of pigeons.
Pigeons Damage Your Property
Second, consider the droppings. Pigeon droppings are corrosive and highly acidic. Droppings left to sit uncleaned will eat into paint, metal, plastic, wood, and even stone and concrete. The caustic nature of pigeon poop is known to damage roofs, especially those based on tar, sometimes cutting roof life in half. Pigeon droppings will permanently deface expensive signage, completely ruin fountains, and forever mar the surface of statues and other outdoor artwork. The perpetual presence of pigeon poop on entryways, walkways, benches, umbrellas, lampposts and other features of your commercial or retail property leaves an unsightly mess that ruins property, creates an image problem for your business, and potentially damages your brand.
But droppings are, by no means, the only way pigeons damage property. Nesting and roosting pigeons will peck at walls, eaves, and windowsill, leaving behind unsightly holes. And let’s not forget that pigeons are exceptionally untidy nest builders. They bring in all sorts of debris to construct their homes, dropping bits and pieces behind on their flight in, and then use their sticky, tar-like dung to hold everything together. These nests are solidly constructed; they are difficult to remove, can block drains and gutters, and will likely permanently damage and deface the underlying site.
Pigeons Are Bullies
Pigeons are ill-mannered bullies who shove their way to the front of every food line. If you’ve set out a bird feeder to attract charming robins and sparrows to your deck but pigeons move in instead, they will rapidly consume every single speck of seed and scare off all the other birds. Pigeons completely take over your micro-ecosystem, bullying other animals, stomping on plants, and tearing up planters.
Pigeons Are Expensive
The pigeons themselves are not expensive—they’re free—but the damage they cause is crazy expensive. Their messes are difficult to clean up. Their droppings rarely easily wipe off; cleanup usually requires significant scrubbing. If the buildup is significant, professionals are required to get the job done effectively and safely. In fact, you should never attempt to clean up a large pigeon mess on your own. Pigeon waste is considered hazardous and if you accidentally inhale feces or debris, it can make you very sick. To learn how to properly clean-up bird droppings and sanitize an area prior to bird control product installation, considering downloading these 8 Tips to Successfully Cleanup Bird Droppings.
Once the mess is gone, there is most certainly damage left behind that is costly to repair. Prevention is the best answer; no matter how much you spend on pigeon control, it will always be less than the cost of cleaning up after these pests.
Preventing Pigeon Problems
Since preventing a pigeon problem is preferable to cleaning one up, it’s good news that there are so many effective solutions available to keep pigeons away.. Put your pellet guns, poison, and inhumane traps away and try these other humane solutions instead.
A Variety of Pigeon Pest Control
Many Pigeon control options fall into four general categories: scare tactics, sensory deterrents, ledge and exclusion products . Let’s take a closer look at each category and then explore which products are most suitable to specific locations and challenges.
Scare tactics typically use motion, sound, optical effects, or all three to create fear in pigeons without actually coming into contact with or affecting the birds in any way. Fearful pigeons will leave to find food, water, and shelter elsewhere. Scare tactics are typically inexpensive and easy to use, making them an ideal first step for many pigeon control regimens.
Example of scare tactics include the following:
- Predator decoys, such as Red-Tailed Hawks and Coyotes.
- The predator eye. This black, yellow, and red eye has a distinctive look designed to create the illusion of a predator. You’ll find the eye printed on a variety of products designed to frighten pigeons, including mylar balloons, smaller reflective diverters, and flags.
- Holographic Flash Tape. Made using commercial-grade mylar, Holographic Flash Tape rustles in the breeze and reflects light, creating an audio and visual distraction zone that disorients and scares pigeons.
- Mirrors and other reflective surfaces. These reflective devices effectively frighten pigeons with movement and light.
- Laser Beams. Birds perceive the light of a laser beam as a threat and respond by fleeing. Laser beams are effective over long distances and pigeons do not grow accustomed to them over time.
- Wind chimes. The simple sound of a tinkling wind chime may be all you need to scare pigeons away from a small area.
Again, scare tactics are a great way to start tackling a pigeon problem. That said, it’s important to remember that, while pigeons are not known for being terribly bright, they are smart enough to learn that the scare tactic you’ve had by their favorite food source for three months is not actually a threat. To avoid this, it’s important to change your tactics often, try different products, and move things around regularly to keep the pigeons away.
While all the above scare tactics rely on sight and sound to deter pigeons with fear, there is another class of sensory deterrents that are useful for pigeon control. These products use touch and smell to make your property unattractive to birds; these solutions deter pigeons in other ways besides fear. The following is a handful of examples:
Sticky Bird Repellent Gels
Pigeons don’t like sticky stuff on their toes, and they’ll go out of their way to avoid it. Sticky anti bird are available in discs and in tubes. The anti pigeon gel is non-toxic, won’t harm the pigeons, and won’t trap them if they land in it. They just won’t come back to do it again.
Methyl Anthranilate (MA)
MA is found in grape seeds. It’s a non-toxic substance that acts like pepper spray for birds; it acts on their trigeminal nerve and irritates their eyes, nose, and throat. MA doesn’t irritate any other species than birds; humans, cats, dogs, and other farm animals barely even know it’s there. MA comes in a variety of formulations, including blocks, pellets, foggers, sprays, and gels. When pigeons get a whiff of MA, they fly away.
Sensory deterrents are another effective tool in any pigeon control toolbox. Sensory deterrents are particularly effective at teaching pigeons to learn new, long-term behavior patterns. They are cost-effective, harmless, and straightforward to use.
Birds like to congregate. Preventing birds from landing and roosting on ledges and roof peaks is another way to keep them from hanging around your property.
Anti-Bird Spikes are made from stainless steel or plastic and can be mounted on horizontal surfaces making it impossible for pigeons to land comfortably. The spikes don’t harm the bird and are easy to install.
Electric track is a highly effective, humane solution for all bird species, including pigeons. The unique electrically charged track delivers a mild, yet effective, shock when birds land on it. The shock will not harm pigeons and will condition them to avoid the area.
Scare tactics and sensory deterrents are effective means to avoid small-scale pigeon troubles, but if you’re dealing with large-scale, recurring pigeon problems, you’ll need to include exclusion products in your control strategy. Exclusion devices are physical additions you make to your property to prevent pigeons completely from roosting and nesting. Examples include the following:
Anti-Bird Netting is a common exclusion product that can be installed in large or small areas. It is visually unobtrusive, available in a variety of weights, and is the best solution to block pest birds from an area. If pigeons are nesting, netting is the only effective solution to prevent them from rebuilding their nests each year.
Bird Slope is a ledge cover product made from PVC. The unique angled design makes it impossible for birds to land or nest on horizontal areas such as ledges, windowsills, or eaves.
With a basic understanding of the types of pigeon control available, it’s time to think about specific solutions for specific problems. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but rather a starting place for building your bird control strategy. The bird control experts at Bird B Gone are available to discuss the details of your pigeon issues and design a custom bird control strategy just for you.
Balconies and Decks
Scare tactics work well for small balconies and decks. SpectrumV Holographic Bird gel discs are also great for railings or other horizontal surfaces, especially for renters who need a temporary solution. Just be sure to change things up regularly to keep the pigeons from figuring things out.
Suburban properties can pose a special challenge. Step one is to peruse your property for pigeon-friendly areas. Step two requires you to clean up any existing messes and keep food sources like trash and pet food out of reach. For step three, choose the control methods you need.
- Bird Netting works to keep pigeons out of your garden and out of your car ports, eaves and sheds.
- Scare tactics can keep pigeons from your outdoor ornaments, fountains and pools.
- Install bird slope and gel discs as needed.
- Hang MA blocks like Bird B Gone Avian Block in trouble spots.
Large warehouses can be pigeon playgrounds but rerouting these pests to other locations is possible with persistence.
- Pigeon spikes are great around any ledges where pigeons like to roost, inside and out, as are bird slope panels
- Net all vented windows and ceilings.
- Apply MA bird gels as needed.
- Install netting over large areas to prevent entry.
- Install laser beams across doorways and loading bays.
- Netting is an excellent and cost-effective way to keep pigeons from nesting in the deep ledges of a garage.
- MA gels can also be used in some areas..
As you can see, most pigeon problems will require multiple approaches. With thoughtful planning (and help from Bird B Gone) you can get the products you need to say goodbye to pigeons once and for all.
Trust Bird B Gone
The experts at Bird B Gone know all about pigeons. In fact, we like to think we’re smarter than the pigeons. That’s why we’ve developed a slew of effective pigeon control products and strategies designed to help anyone in any circumstance live a pigeon-free life. Call us today!