Piping up about Pigeons

Piping up about Pigeons

**Composed by J. Christianson (PWRC Education Coordinator)

The Pigeon; also known as Dove, Rock Dove, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pigeon, Squab, etc are a flocking bird.  Typically seen as dark grey in color, with 2 black bands on the wings, a red, purple or green iridescent band around the neck, red legs/feet, white lower-back feathers, heard clipping their wings through the air.  This being the typical city description we’re all used to of course as there are about 350 different varieties out there.  Originating from Europe, North Africa and Asia, the Pigeon is not a native species to North America.

Alright now let’s get down to the heart of the matter, questions and solutions plaguing society about these magnificent birds.

Can the pigeon droppings deteriorate my building?  Yes!  Over time, if you do not tend to the mess, concrete, siding, or foundation can be affected by the feces.

Are there health hazards associated with a pigeon infestation?  Yes, pigeon droppings contain organisms responsible for several diseases such as salmonella.

Does this mean we should exterminate every last Pigeon?  Definitely NOT!  Nuisances to some, there are many alternative options to deal with a pigeon problem.

Pigeons are seeking one of three things.  Food, shelter and a place to have their family (since peak nesting time is spring and summer, it’s best to start your action plan early in the season).  If their needs aren’t met they will move on elsewhere.  The key to solving any pigeon problem is PREVENTION.

Often people excessively feed pigeons in their yards or at the local park due to the friendly nature of the bird species.  A captivating and exciting activity but can quickly become a problem for the area as more and more birds will flock for the food being offered.  Don’t get me wrong, they still need to eat but like any good diet researcher knows…you have to eat in moderation.  To correct an over feeding situation which happens often you need to take several weeks and wean the birds, slowly reducing the amount you give out.  Once the situation is controlled only put out as much as the birds will eat in 5-10min and change up the times.  It’s good for your backyard birds to forage, they are birds, and it’s what they do!  Feeding on a schedule might be convenient as your running out the door for work but this will also build a reliance on the food source and birds will flock at the same time each day to wait for that readily available source.

Many approach a problem with “I’ll do whatever it takes to make it go away”, but have you thought of the affects that solution has?  Poisoning causes disorientation, trembling, severe convulsions, internal hemorrhaging, vomiting, respiratory distress, and the inability to walk, stand or fly…And that’s not all it does.  Many animals are a part of the food chain.  Poisoning also results in the poisoning of prey species such as cats, foxes, owls, hawks and (in the special consideration of pigeon poisoning) peregrine falcons an endangered species!

Other pest-control options include sticky pads and live traps.  I’m sure most have heard of the use of sticky traps for a mouse, similar items have been placed on ledges for pigeon removal.  Not only pigeons sit on window ledges.  The bird gets stuck, attempting to free itself only becoming even more covered in glue leaving it to suffer a traumatizing death.  Some think, “Hey, a live trap would be a humane option,” but they forget…pigeons have an amazing homing instinct.  Taking them a far distance won’t be far enough.  People race pigeons for hundreds of miles and they still make it home.  Relocating will only cause stress for all parties involved and remember, once a species leaves the territory it’s open for another to move on in!

For those seeking a solution to pigeons nesting on ledges, roofs, eaves or balconies the answer is to block access to those areas.  If you make it unavailable or uncomfortable the birds will find somewhere else to be.

Some suggestions are:

·         Use ¼” rust proof mesh or netting such as polyethylene to block eaves troughs, vents and rafters.  Be sure to check netting frequently to ensure no birds have become trapped.

·         Hang door curtains made from netting for large open doorways for big companies such as warehouses to prevent birds from flying in.

·         Use sheet metal, Styrofoam, wood or other creative materials to alter roosting ledges to 45+degree angles.

·         Porcupine wires although seemingly painful do not actually harm the birds as they have difficulty landing on them.  This isn’t fool proof but it does reduce the perching population drastically.

·         In large buildings with rafters or parking garages, mount netting to prevent access to ledges used for nesting.

·         Hang shiny objects such as garden décor twirlers, CD’s, or aluminum pie plates on a string to reduce bird activity on balconies.  You can also use a netted curtain to prevent them from perching on the balcony period.

·         When using decoy birds of prey, pigeons are incredibly smart and quickly learn that the owl or hawk is not real, reposition the decoy frequently.

·         Remove nest materials as their being built (sticks and twigs).  These are usually built within 2 days so you need to act fast.

o   If the pigeons have already made a nest and laid their eggs, do not disturb the birds, wait until the babies have fledged before removing the nest.  They will return to use it again.

§  Tip for removal: Pigeons do not remove their fecal matter from the nest as typical birds would; wet the droppings with a bleach solution before removal to prevent dust particles.  Wear protective gloves and a facial mask, using a scraper to remove all dropping material from the surface.


For more Great Facts about Pigeons See: Reference Source:


In Conclusion, to solve your pigeon problem, use a good property maintenance system.  Reduce available food and water resources, remove access to roosting and nesting sites with netting or discouraging objects, and react quickly to the removal of nesting material if blocking areas is not an option.  The solution isn’t to remove the birds entirely but to control the numbers causing the problem.  Always use respectful and humane methods to problem solve and if you need help with a wildlife situation contact a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for advice.

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1 Comment

  1. Ky

    Hi there. I’m looking for suggestions on what to do. I live in a high rise in Manitoba. Tow pigeons have been calling my all cement balcony home since last summer. There is no place to tie anything, and the wind will whip stuff off and even blew my BBQ lid right off my balcony. I finally taped silver flashy tape to the walls, it’s had 0 effect. Some time ago I asked building management for help, but they said it ‘s the tennant problem. The poop is 3 inched deep in some places. I can’t afford to have pay for professional removal or cleaning. What the heck am I suppose to do? I want the damned things dead.

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