Growing up as a small boy, I remember my father bemoaning that pigeons and, in particular, the Wood Pigeon had been attacking his precious home-grown vegetables. Primarily he was talking about his cabbages, and despite netting, Wood Pigeons would often find a way through. This was 40 years ago, and it made me wonder whether a solution had now been found to deter them.
There are many ways to deter pigeons from your garden, but some care must be taken as deterrents designed for commercial premises or agricultural land may be unsuitable for your garden or other suburban areas. Here are 15 ways to deter pigeons from your garden:
- Anti-roosting spikes
- Make roosting areas less appealing
- Sloping covers to ledges and windowsills
- Parallel Wires
- Pigeon repellent gel or liquid
- Avoid certain bird food
- Cage in food
- Remove nesting materials
- Reflective surfaces
- Motion-activated sprinkler
- Ultrasound pigeon repellent
- Remove the birdbath
- Decoy Birds of Prey
Important: Pigeons and Legislation
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds. It is an offence to kill or injure any birds or their nests or eggs unless acting under a licence and only in compliance with the conditions of that licence. A general licence allows ‘authorised persons’ to undertake specific actions which would otherwise be illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act but only to certain birds in certain circumstances. Authorised person’ means the owner or occupier or any person authorised by the owner or occupier of the land on which the action authorised takes place. Penalties that can be imposed for criminal offences in respect of a single bird, nest or egg contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is an unlimited fine, up to six months imprisonment or both. Further information on the legislation surrounding wild birds, including Pigeons, can be found on the Government website that details the legislation for the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Using netting in your garden can be one of the most effective ways to prevent pigeons from deterring pigeons from your garden. Pigeons will happily consume a wide variety of foods, including spring shoots, vegetables, fruit, and berries. Garden netting is widely available from garden centres and is relatively cheap. It comes in various sizes and can easily be cut down to the appropriate size.
You simply stretch if over the vegetable patch or shrub you wish to protect and tie down the corners. You may find purchasing some additional netting or tent pegs to anchor the net down to be helpful. If you are using netting to protect a tree, you may need to run string around the netting edges and tie it that way. Anything near the edge of netting will still be susceptive to the pigeons, so try and spread the netting over a larger area.
2. Anti-roosting spikes
Anti-roosting spikes are a relatively harmless product that works by removing the Pigeon’s ability to land, roost or build a nest on surfaces easily. Although they are likely to affect all birds species, the location you primarily place them is unlikely to be chosen by most UK birds other than Pigeons. In most cases, Anti-roosting spikes are designed to be placed horizontally along window sills and ledges, prime locations for pigeons to roost. Increasingly they are being placed around solar panels and chimney areas of domestic buildings. They are relatively cheap, coming in metal and plastic, easy to install using silicone adhesive, and relatively inconspicuous.
3. Making roosting areas less appealing
If you can access the Pigeons roosting area, another solution is to make their choice of roost less appealing. One of the cheapest ways of deterring Pigeons from roosting in these locations is by stretching a few string lines across their landing spots. In most cases, this simple solution will be enough for an incoming Pigeon to choose another location. Still, if the Pigeon does not see it before landing, it should not take long before deciding that the site is not for them and fly off. There are other more expensive solutions on the market (see Parallel Wires), but they will broadly have the same effect. If you have a chimney on your property, you may have encountered birds becoming trapped inside. If your chimney is rarely used, I would strongly recommend that you get it capped with a caged cowling as a further deterrent to Pigeons looking for a roosting location.
4. Sloping covers to ledges and windowsills
These sloping covers come in all shapes, sizes and designs with the sole purpose of deterring birds from roosting or nesting on open ledges. These slopped areas are angled so that the birds cannot easily land for very long before they need to take off. Perhaps more commonly found on flats and apartments, they are nevertheless quite effective at deterring Pigeons, so definitely worth a try. I have seen different suppliers offer a very similar looking product, and the prices they charged seem to vary quite a bit based on what was included in the pack. One site I came across charged £21.99, ex. VAT per 1.2 metres. Therefore, attaching these to a couple of upstairs windows will be a relatively inexpensive solution.
5. Parallel Wires
As the name suggests, Parallel Wires are a series of wires that stretch across the possible landing, roosting and nesting locations to deter pigeons. The commercial version of the stretching string is often nylon coated or steel wires fixed into stone or block. They are heavy duty solutions and are also suitable for deterring large gulls. They can be placed on window ledges and window sills, but they are also designed to be placed along long stretches of the roof, either on the ridge tiles or flat roof. There are many products and suppliers on the market, so pricing differs quite a bit, but a typical Pigeon Post and Wire Kit for Masonry suitable for 15metres costs around £52.67 ex. VAT
6. Pigeon repellent gel or liquid
Two different products that broadly have the same effect are liquid repellent and repellent gel. Repellent liquids are usually used when larger areas need to be covered, such as a flat roof, but they are also suitable for irregularly shaped areas such as tree branches. These liquids are class as contact repellents, meaning that Pigeons would need to land on the surface before being repelled. They are usually applied to locations using a spray which soon turns into a sticky tar-like surface. Repellent gels come in both ‘contact’ and ‘olfactory’. Contact gel works in the same ways as the repellent liquid in that it requires the bird to make contact before it is repelled. Olfactory gel is a non-toxic solution that deters Pigeons through visual and olfactory (smell) measures. Both the liquid and the gel are humane solutions, with the Pigeon sustaining no lasting damage.
7. Avoid certain bird food
Perhaps a rather obvious observation, but birds, like most wild animals, are attracted by food and Pigeons like nothing better than sitting on a perch and waiting for food to appear. Avoid certain types of bird food mixes, specifically those that contain corn, wheat and barley.
These seed types are more suitable for larger birds and will often remain in the garden for more extended periods, attracting larger birds like Pigeons. The cheaper seed produces will often bulk up their mixes’ contents with these seeds as they are much cheaper alternatives. They are even known to include broken up dog biscuits which present a choking hazard to many smaller birds.
8. Cage in food
While many of us like to feed the birds in our gardens, we may not always follow the best practices. Some bird foods are designed to be dispensed by bird feeders, while others are designed to be placed on ground feeders. If you choose to continue feeding the birds in your garden, another solution may be to purchase an appropriate caged feeder. Unless you have a bird table, it is likely that the Pigeons in your garden will predominantly be ground feeders. So buying a caged floor feeder may provide you with another option to deter any Pigeon from hanging around. These meshed based feeders are designed to stop both Pigeons and Squirrels from gaining access to your feeder, and many of them also have unique feeders that can sit within them. They are relatively inexpensive, starting at around £18. Click to check the latest price on Amazon
9. Remove nesting materials
If you have resident Pigeons roosting or nesting on the roof, ledges, or flat roof of your property, it’s imperative that you remove any nesting materials that may help Pigeons. Taking steps to remove nesting materials should include cleaning off any obvious areas where the Pigeons may be perching. Pigeon poop is the most apparent sign so once you have identified a location, look to take steps to make it less appealing.
Scarecrows have been a tried and tested method of scaring off birds for hundreds of years and, as the name suggests, were originally invented by farmers attempting to scarecrows of their farming crops. Today you are less likely to find them in fields, but they nevertheless remain quite an effective deterrent against Pigeons.
Stuffing and old jacket and trousers with newspaper and putting them outside as a Scarecrow may cause the Pigeons enough concern that they decide to go elsewhere. Moving them around once in a while can keep the Pigeons from becoming used to a static object. The downside of this solution and many of the remaining solutions is that they may also deter other birds species, but this may be less of a problem to some if your intention is simply to discourage Pigeons.
11. Reflective surfaces
The majority of garden birds are easily spooked, and reflective surfaces can provide an extremely effective deterrent against Pigeons known to be particularly skittish. Coming in a range of types and sizes, you may choose to utilise these ‘Repellent Disks’. These reflective disks are designed to hang freely from tree branches and gently rotate in the breeze, creating flashes of light as they rotate, which scare Pigeons (and the majority of birds) away. They are humane and very wildlife-friendly, non-toxic and harmless to birds. DIY versions can be created by using an old CD or DVD tied to pieces of string and similarly hung from branches. A pack of Repellent Disks costs around £8, which includes eight discs. Click to check the latest price on Amazon
12. Motion-activated sprinkler
Motion-activated sprinklers provide another humane alternative for deterring Pigeons. Available through a range of suppliers and at different prices, they are connected to a hosepipe and have a small sensor that reacts when motion is detected nearby. In many cases, these sensors’ sensitivity can be adjusted depending on what animal you are trying to deter. For example, these devices are also used to discourage cats or foxes.
Once the sensor detects movement, it triggers a 5-second burst of water that will be enough to deter Pigeons. The majority of them are battery operated and will last for a long time before the battery needs to be replaced. They start at around £25, so another relatively inexpensive solution is pretty indiscriminate about which bird may trigger them. Click to check the latest price on Amazon
13. Ultrasound pigeon repellent
These ultrasonic devices create several sounds that are uncomfortable for Pigeons. Ultrasonic sounds waves are at the higher end of sound frequency for humans, which means we cannot hear the sounds made. As a result, these devices can prove effective without impacting the owner. A word of caution is that cats and dogs can hear these sounds, so this solution is probably best avoided if you have pets nearby. In many cases, the placement of these devices is also critical, and they are unlikely to be particularly successful if you have a particularly large garden that you are trying to protect. They start at around £45 for a pack of 3. Click to check the latest price on Amazon.
14. Remove the birdbath
Aside from perching on branches and awaiting an opportunity of a quick meal. Pigeons are pretty fond of having a nice bath or a clean drinking source. If you have resident Pigeons, in addition to removing food. I would recommend removing the birdbath temporarily. Making your garden as least attractive as possible for a while may well be enough for Pigeons to decide on spending their time elsewhere.
15. Decoy birds of prey
If you are less bothered about having any birds visit your garden, then a Decoy Bird of Prey may be the perfect solution for you. These very inexpensive items protect your garden with a realistically looking Bird of Prey. These static, often plastic birds aim to mimic a live Bird of Prey appearance and come in various types and sizes. They are very weather-resistant but may need to be taken inside in the event of strong sunshine or sub-zero temperatures. They usually come with fixing that allow you to anchor them to fence posts or branches but can also be set up to be freestanding. Click here to check the latest prices on Amazon