With its iridescent throat, deep blue-gray feathers, and intricately-patterned wings, the pigeon (rock dove) is a handsome bird. However, good looks don't make up for loads of corrosive feces, or for harboring ticks and lice, or for the crazy bird ladies they inspire.
Pigeons are the arch-fiends of bird pest control. Domesticated over 5,000 years ago in Europe, pigeons were bred to be hardy, swift-flying, reproductive champs. A mated pair can produce up to a dozen young each year, and they'll be fully grown in as little as one month. More amazing yet is the pigeon's prowess in the bathroom. They can drop up to twenty-five pounds of feces per bird every year. The high uric acid content makes their waste corrosive, causing lots of damage to homes, businesses, farms, and other structures. And these birds will eat almost anything. Pigeons, as you can see, are a worthy adversary, but with your enlarged brain case, opposable thumbs, and the information below, pigeon control will be attained.
Begin looking into pigeon proofing. Exclusion, or pigeon proofing, is the most effective means of pigeon control. It involves the installation of bird netting, pigeon spikes, bird wires, electric tracks or wiring, ledge modification (giving flat ledges a 45- to 60-degree angle), or any other physical barrier between your property and pigeons. Which route should you take? That depends very much on your property and situation. All are a bit pricey and require some expertise to install, but if you're constantly having pigeon problems, this will save you time and money in the long run. If you're going to hire a pest control firm, make sure they are experienced with pigeons and are willing to guarantee their work.
Disturb the nests and break the eggs. Messing with nests works for pest birds of all kinds. Get yourself a long pole (tent pole, tree branch, roof rake, etc.) and give those nests the business. Scramble it all up and break some eggs. Harassment is probably just a temporary solution. Pigeons are stubborn, especially if they've been roosting for awhile. You'll need to attack the nests every two weeks to keep the birds from producing young. They'll eventually flee your property, but unless you employ some of the other pigeon control methods found in this article, new birds may try to claim this obviously pigeon-friendly niche.
Use pigeon repellents. Applying pigeon repellent to the places birds like to roost or loaf will keep them away for a time. These products—available in liquid and gel form—are either sticky or soft, and some contain capsaicin (the hot in hot peppers). The bottom line is that bird pests avoid treated areas. However, there are a few downsides. While less expensive, they are not as long lasting as pigeon spikes or bird netting, and some of the sticky products collect dirt and melt away in hot weather. Bird Off, Bird X Bird Proof, and 4 the Birds are popular brands.
Use live traps for pigeon control. Trapping is a highly recommended form of pigeon control. Most experts recommend the bob-type pigeon traps (many different sizes), which have doors they can push in, but not out. Cracked corn and wheat work well as bait, and keeping a few decoys birds inside will speed things along. Pigeons are known for their uncanny homing ability, so you won't be able to release them across the street or even fifty miles away. They'll just fly back. It's best to call in an expert to humanely dispose of the birds (kill them). Whatever you do, never put a cage full of pigeons in your home or car, unless you're fond of ticks and lice.
Deny pigeons easy access to food and water. Though pigeons can fly great distances for a meal, they're more likely to roost where food and water is plentiful. Pigeons prefer grains and greens, but they'll eat a month-old cheeseburger, too. Secure those garbage cans. Use pigeon proof bird feeders (cage or tube feeders). Install a motion sensing sprinkler near your garden. Curse that bird lady. Drain that standing water. Fill in that low spot. Fix your leaky air conditioner. Take a moment to observe the birds to find out what they are after, and remove it from the equation.
Control pigeons with bullets. If you're dealing with a small number of birds—and you're in an area where using a firearm is safe and legal—you can shoot pigeons. They are not protected birds. A nice .22 [caliber] with bird shot will work, as will a shotgun. If there is a large pigeon population in the area, it will be a waste of time and money unless you work toward pigeon proofing. Your cold steel cannot outpace the breeding capacity of pigeons.
Be safe. Pigeons harbor lice, ticks, mites, and fleas, and they can carry and transmit a host of diseases. While the danger posed by these diseases is often overstated, err on the side of safety. If you're working in an enclosed area that was infested by birds, wear a respirator, gloves, and goggles.
Pigeon spikes. These spikes are attached with clamps and adhesives to popular pigeon roosts and loafing areas, especially along ledges and gutters. The spikes make it uncomfortable to land, nest, or move around. Pigeon spikes need to be cleaned and maintained, as birds sometimes use leaves, twigs, cloth, and other debris to make the spikes more navigable.
Bird ledge modification (birdslides, bird slopes, bird ledge eliminator). Pigeons like a nice, flat ledge in a safe, high place. Many products aim to modify these ledges, giving them a smooth 45–60 degree angle.
Bird netting. Bird netting is used to exclude pigeons from lofts, eaves, trees, gardens, garages or outbuilding ceilings, overhangs, or any large open space you don't want pigeons hanging around. There are many bird netting products, but netting for pigeons should be made from UV-resistant, high density polyurethane consisting of ¾-inch squares.
Electrified tracks or wiring. Spikes, wires, and netting can make your property look like a penitentiary. Electric tracks fit snugly against ledges and roosting areas and give the birds a nice, non-lethal, yet memorable shock when they make contact. BirdShock Flex Track and Bird Jolt Flat Track are two popular brands.
Bird X Bird Proof Transparent Gel. This pigeon repellent is a sticky gel that you apply to pigeon roosts using a standard caulking gun. The pigeons land, become annoyed, and fly away with sticky feet. It's great for ledges, signs, beams, windowsills—anywhere pest birds perch.
Bird X Stainless Bird Spike Kit. It's a cheap, durable, DIY pigeon spike kit that has received high marks from a variety of online vendors. Each kit comes with five two-foot strips that can be used on ledges, roofs, gutters, air conditioners, windowsills, chimneys, lightpoles—pretty much anywhere pigeons roost.
OvoControl P (or pigeon birth control). OvoControl P is a chemical-laced bait that renders eggs nonviable. It's best used in areas where some birds can be tolerated, but a much smaller population is needed. While the GOP prefers abstinence-only pigeon education, many animal rights groups tout this product.