8 Ways to Get Rid of Pigeons From Your House (& Feeders)!
How do you get rid of pigeons?
Almost everyone that has attracted this invasive species to their yard has asked themselves this question.
Pigeons can be incredibly problematic. First, these rather large birds can take over your feeding station, crowding out all the beautiful songbirds. The pigeons scarf down as much food as possible, and unfortunately, they aren’t polite enough to leave any for the other birds.
Not to mention that pigeons make a huge mess with their waste! The feces is highly acidic and can stain the surface of anything it touches, such as your roof or car. If that isn’t bad enough, pigeon poop can carry a host of diseases and parasites!
And pigeons don’t come by themselves. Once they find your house, they tell all of their pigeon friends, and soon you have giant flocks of these birds coming to eat every….single….day.
But today I have good news.
I am sharing 8 ways to prevent pigeons.
Specifically, this post is organized into THREE different sections.
How to keep pigeons off your bird feeders. (4 tips)
How to get pigeons to leave your yard. (4 tips)
4 Strategies That DON’T Work
Are you ready to battle your pigeons?
How to keep pigeons off your bird feeders (4 tips)
Pigeons are considered “Bully Birds,” which means that they don’t always play nicely with the other birds that visit your feeders.
One big problem is that pigeons rarely visit alone. Typically, a whole flock of these birds arrives together, and the group completely takes over your feeding station. The pigeons don’t allow any other birds to feed and can become aggressive when protecting “their” food.
And did I mention how much they poop?
Luckily, with a few adjustments, you should have no problem keeping pigeons away from your bird feeders!
Tip #1: Use feeders that pigeons can’t use!
We have already established that pigeons are quite large, which is one reason a flock of them can annoyingly eat so much. Pigeons are also not incredibly athletic when compared to other birds that can cling and feed upside down.
Knowing these facts, we can employ bird feeders that use a pigeon’s size and lack of athletic ability against themselves.
Here are TWO types of feeders that pigeons can’t use.
- For even more options, try reading this post: 7 Bird Feeders For SMALL Birds In MY Backyard.
A. Tube feeders:
A classic tube feeder works well at preventing these unwanted birds. Pigeons are too big to fit their bodies onto the small perches that stick out.
I am currently using tube feeders made by Aspects, and I have been happy with their performance and easiness to clean.
- A. Large: 20 inches long, 6 feeding ports, and feeding capacity is 1.75 quarts.
- B. Medium: 16 inches long, 4 feeding ports, and feeding capacity is 1.25 quarts.
Make sure you don’t add a tray to the bottom of your tube feeder because this provides a large landing area for pigeons!
These types of feeders ONLY allow small birds to eat. If a large bird, such as a pigeon, lands on the perch, then access to the food is closed because the bird is too heavy.
Here are two effective options:
Weight-sensitive feeders also prevent squirrels and blackbirds (starlings, grackles)!
8 Effective Ways To Keep Squirrels Off Your Bird Feeders
3 Proven Ways To Get Rid of Starlings TODAY
Tip #2: Keep the ground as clean as possible.
Now that we have discussed bird feeders that pigeons can’t use, the next step is to make sure there isn’t food on the ground for them to eat.
Pigeons like eating on the ground the best. Think of a city park that has pigeons everywhere. These birds are always walking on the ground, looking for food!.
To keep pigeons away, you must do a fantastic job of keeping the area underneath your feeders clean.
Unfortunately, this means you will need to put your ground feeders away, at least temporarily, until these invasive birds have moved on. Make sure not to dump any seed on the ground. The food must go inside the feeders and nowhere else!
Lastly, make sure to analyze the feeders you’re using to see if it’s easy for birds to dump seed. Many birds like to pick through a seed mix to find their favorite foods, and in the process, they drop A LOT of food on the ground. And guess who is on the ground just waiting for this to happen – our pesky pigeons!
- RELATED: The 15 Best Bird Feeders In MY Backyard!
Hopper style feeders or any feeder with a platform typically makes it easy for birds to discard unwanted food to the ground.
Tip #3: Use food that pigeons won’t eat.
A really good strategy to get rid of pigeons is to only offer foods in your backyard that these birds WON’T eat. Eventually, these birds will go somewhere else if there is no food for them.
So what foods prevent pigeons?
Here is my list of “pigeon prevention“ food!
While pigeons will eat many different types of foods, you will want to avoid using their FAVORITES. This is especially true if any of these foods might fall to the ground. Here is a list of some things they LOVE to eat:
- Sunflower seed
- Millet (both white and red)
- Cracked corn
- Canary seed
You will want to be careful when purchasing CHEAP birdseed mixes. Typically, these less expensive food products contain a much higher percentage of things like milo, millet, and cracked corn. These grains do not cost as much as other types of birdseed, which is why they appear in such high quantities in cheap food.
But as you can see, pigeons LOVE milo and millet (along with House Sparrows)! And the biggest problem is that most songbirds that you actually want won’t eat this stuff. They prefer foods like peanuts, sunflower, and safflower.
Tip #4: Feed pigeons separately.
I know that many people actually enjoy feeding pigeons and having them around, but they just don’t want them scaring away all of the other birds that visit.
If this describes you, then this strategy may be perfect!
Instead of trying to get rid of the pigeons, you are going to feed them as much as they want to eat. But you are going to do this in a location that is far and away from your other bird feeders. This technique works because it keeps the pigeons distracted and away from your primary feeding station.
To set up an area to feed pigeons, remember these two things:
- Pigeons prefer feeding on the ground. So I’d recommend getting a few trays that you can fill with food. My favorite feeding platform is made by Woodlink.
- Fill the feeding trays with foods that pigeons LOVE, but not many other birds enjoy eating. This includes milo, bread, and oatmeal. Cracked corn also works well and this food is incredibly inexpensive!
Now you just need to find a spot that is away from your main bird feeding station!
How to get pigeons to leave your yard.
My first four tips were designed to keep pigeons off your bird feeders.
But if these persistent birds have taken an interest in sticking around your yard, you may need to implement a few additional strategies to make them leave.
There must be something pleasing about your backyard that makes them want to stay. Your job is to take this thing away or annoy them so much their only choice is to leave. 🙂
Tip #5: Get rid of places where they roost and nest!
One reason that pigeons stick around your yard is they may have found a place that they enjoy roosting or nesting. This could be on a windowsill, roof, or any other spot that feels safe.
Pigeons that never leave your yard will make a huge mess with their poop. Also, you may think that a “cooing” pigeon sounds relaxing, but try to imagine dozens of them doing it all at once throughout the entire day! I’ve heard from people that say the non-stop cooing is maddening!
Luckily, there are some inexpensive products you can purchase that will help deter pigeons and keep them away. Both of these products are safe as well (you won’t find me recommending anything that hurts a pigeon).
Bird-X Stainless Steel Bird Spikes View Price - Amazon
This product has a simple concept to get rid of pigeons; put stainless steel spikes wherever these birds like to land!
As you can see, there is a ZERO chance of a large pigeon landing on top of these spikes. The birds will get discouraged and have to move on somewhere else. And don’t worry, this solution is 100% humane. The pigeons can see the spikes and never actually land upon them and get hurt.
Bird spikes are easy to install with screws, nails, or ties. They are also incredibly durable since they are made from stainless steel. They even have a flexible base, so the spikes can be placed on a curved surface.
Once you know what to look for, my guess is you will start noticing bird spikes on a lot of buildings. For example, they are common on many large signs to prevent nesting birds.
The only negative to bird spikes is the physical appearance of them on your home or building.
Bird Repellant Gel:
Bird-X Bird-Proof Repellant View Price - Amazon
Similar to the bird spikes listed above, bird gel needs to be placed on areas that pigeons frequent. Look for places that they commonly land to roost or nest.
You will need a caulking gun to spread the gel. Apply anywhere that pigeons tend to sit, such as on ledges, window sills, rooftops, rafters, light poles, gutters, beams, or signs. The gel is very sticky and unpleasant, and pigeons won’t want to get it on their feet.
The gel does not harm the birds and is made from non-toxic materials. This product is not like a sticky trap for rodents, which agonizingly kills pests once trapped. Bird gel is designed to make it uncomfortable.
Once applied, the gel lasts about a year, depending on your local weather. The nice part about bird repellant gel is the fact you can’t tell it’s even there, so the aesthetics are much better than bird spikes.
Tip #6: Pigeon Proof Your Home.
If pigeons don’t leave your home alone, then you need to spend some time “pigeon proofing.”
Take a walk around your house and look for areas where pigeons are sitting and using. Specifically, here are some things you should look for:
Install covers on open vents:
- Open vents provide spaces for pigeons to build nests. Luckily, there are inexpensive screens and covers you can purchase to cover the vents. Make sure to buy the correct shape and size.
- Don’t forget to check your attic for any vents that need sealed!
Cap your chimney:
- Pigeons are known to block chimneys with their nests. Birds can also get stuck and perish inside them.
Bird-proof your garden:
- An inexpensive way to prevent pigeons and other birds from getting into your garden is to install netting. Just make sure to check the nets every day to make sure no birds become tangled or trapped.
Tip #7: Try this sound machine.
CLEANRTH Advanced Ultrasonic Bird Repeller View Price - Amazon
Using a sound machine is a unique way to try to get rid of pigeons.
Here’s how they work:
The machines use ultrasonic sound to scare away birds. Humans are not able to hear ultrasonic noises because the frequency is too high. But birds can hear the noises just fine.
These bird repellers are motion-activated, which means they won’t omit any sound until activated by a bird traveling in front of it. The CLEANRTH sound machine featured above can detect warm bodies up to 82 feet away, and the loud sounds cover an area of 5,000 square feet!
What I like about ultrasonic sound machines is they are humane; no bird has ever been hurt by a loud noise!
I want to provide a warning about bird repelling sound machines. Most people seem to have success using them, but there are some mixed reviews. Here are a few potential problems:
- Birds aren’t scared of the noises: It seems some pigeons are not affected when the machine starts emitting ultrasonic sound.
- Hard to attach to a roof: If you’re having problems with pigeons on top of your house, a sound machine may not be the best option unless you get creative.
Tip #8: Trap and release.
Tomahawk Double Door Pigeon Trap View Price - Amazon
If trying to deter and scare away pigeons won’t work, then you can always trap them!
Just make sure to drive as far away from your home as possible before releasing them. I have read you need to take them at least 5 miles from your home, but I would try to take them even farther. Just know that pigeons are reasonably smart, and they may be able to find their way back to your house.
Trapping your pigeons may work temporarily, but it doesn’t solve the underlying issue of why these birds are attracted to your yard.
4 Strategies That DON’T Work (Well)
There are a few techniques that are commonly recommended for preventing pigeons that I want to discuss. Specifically, I don’t think they work entirely well. Feel free to try them, but you have been warned!
A. Hawk decoy | B. Owl decoy
When it comes to scaring pigeons, people usually try using a fake hawk or owl somewhere on their property to give the impression that a powerful raptor is nearby.
While it sounds like a good idea, pigeons and other pest birds get used to the decoy quickly, and it’s usually not effective after a few days. But these decoys aren’t very expensive, so it may be worth a shot? The worst-case scenario is that you have a hawk or owl decoration in your yard!
2. Reflective objects and devices:
This strategy involves hanging up reflective material around your yard and hoping the constant flashing will keep pigeons away.
Results are mixed for this technique. I have found that it can work temporarily, but the birds eventually get accustomed and come back. You also are going to have reflective material hanging all over your yard!
3. Chasing them away yourself:
You can always resort to chasing away the pigeons yourself, either by yelling at them or banging pots and pans. While this strategy is free, you are probably going to get sick of doing this, and your neighbors will have a good laugh.
4. Feeding pigeons rice:
Have you ever heard that feeding pigeons dried rice will make them explode? Supposedly that once the rice starts expanding inside their stomachs, the birds are unable to regurgitate the food, and the eventual outcome is a pigeon explosion.
While this makes an entertaining story, it is just not true. If you feed pigeons rice, they are just going to tell their bird friends to come to your house to get a free meal because another crazy person believes the “pigeon eating rice makes them explode” myth.
I hope you learned how you can stop pigeons from coming to your bird feeders and house. I know these large, invasive birds can be incredibly annoying, so I wish you luck in your battle against them.
I’m confident that by trying a few of the strategies listed above, you will annoy the pigeons enough to get them to go somewhere else.
Thanks for reading! Before you go, can you please answer one question for me?
What is your favorite strategy that prevents pigeons?
Just a correction. Pigeons LOVE Suet You have it listed under the foods that they will not eat… Well, they had a banquet at my house when I put 2 of them down on the ground below the bird feeders. Will not make that mistake again
I’m surprised you chickens don’t go in their coop on their own. Mine all do. I have a bird feeder with only black oil sunflower seeds and the chicken hang out under it to get the small pieces of sunflower seeds the birds drop. I had a flock of 3 dozen pigeons but found out they are at my neighbors now,lol. I feed my poultry in the morning before they come by and later in the evening after they fly away. But if I want to get rid of something like cooked rice, I put it out because I know the pigeons will scarf it down and my chickens won’t be able to eat too much of it
Oh my you are just like me! I too feel bad when a pigeon out of about 10 of them hangs around and I feel bad as they are obviously hungry.
Oh carol, I’m going to stop feeding my resident birds feed mixtures. Those damn pigeons won’t stop trashing and eating the good bird seed I buy. Meal worms is the way I’m going to go. In 1 day I’m exhausted sitting at my window waiting for those pigeons to return from chasing them non stop
Oh, I have been in that position so many times!!! LOL
Your story is my story thanks for sharing as I don’t feel so alone.
Their poop and pollution is NOT cute.
Two Doz pigeons wait on my roof and constantly walk
round the garden looking for food, Theyre unable to get to the feeders Ive pigeon proofed them, but sometimes it’s been a cold day and starting to get dark, I see a pigeon Ive noticed many times throughout the day, its had nothing to eat, I see it alone searching in the rain, I watch because it gets close to the bushes it wouldn’t normally do because of danger that may be lurking,as well as it being semi dark, Then I imagine it looks really thin, I spend another couple of minuets arguing with myself DONT DO IT! I always do though and put a handful of peanuts down away from the bushes, Saying to myself Your’e going to be sorry, And I am when its back next day with the rest..
Have a bird table with a roof and block the sides off with wire that only smaller birds can get through. Pigeons cants land on a perch under 4 inches long.
I tried every type feeder, but the pigeons watch and learn how to adapt. Then, I got smart. I planted a small garden with all native plants and flowers. I kept the bird baths. Now, I get migrating birds, resident birds, and still have the finches, robins, mourning doves, cardinals, etc. Certain plants attract Certain birds. The pigeons come by to drink water and then leave. It’s been working!
Um, yeah… the pigeons around here seem to love the nyjer. Jerks. Once this current bag runs out, we will, sadly, just stop feeding all the birds. I will miss the house finches and goldfinches, but the pigeons need to go away.
I’ve just purchased a small bird feeder from amazon..it has a small dish and a clear plastic dome over it the pigeons can’t land on it because it slopes and are too big to fit under the dome..
Thank you so much for all of this information! I’m new to feeding our wild birds (although I did get the 2 wild Steller’s Jay to land on my hand and eat from my palm!) and still trying to figure out what’s what and who’s who. I had two pigeons last year, but this year I have a whole flock and they are not making me, nor the other birds, happy!
I live in Anchorage, Alaska and pigeons are not native to us and were just introduced in the 1960s; I’ve now also learned that their toxic poo and the critters they may carry kill a lot of the indigenous birds up here that are fairly fragile and cannot fight off those parasites and/or critters.
I’ll be putting this all into place, and getting the other feeders you recommended, over the weekend; we have such a short summer to enjoy them, I’m hoping it won’t take long to shoo them off!
The white winged doves at my house also eat the suet. (Pigeons are doves, so same gluttonous tendencies.) The treat I have found that the doves won’t eat are dried meal worms. I leave the meal worms out for the roadrunners, robins, Phoebes and thrashers. Maybe switching from corn to meal worms for a while will make your pigeons seek food elsewhere? I buy mine at a feed store, they’re in the chicken feed aisle. Good luck!
I have chickens now so have taken down my bird feeder. The pigeons are still a pain as they often venture into the run, which I have to leave open due to my bird free ranging. My problem is, I get the chickens back into the run at night, which is where the coop is, by clicker training and offering corn in there. The pigeons are obviously picking up the excess corn off the floor. I will have to be a bit more conservative with the treats I offer at night. What I noticed about this post was the reference to suet, and a pigeons dislike of it. When I had my bird feeder the pigeons devoured the suet which I used to put into half coconut shells.
Hi John! Thanks so much for the reply and the helpful information. Since I posted my question, I have switched to tube feeders only for the mixed food and finch feeders without platforms. This has really curbed the dove raids, though they do still try (unsuccessfully) to balance on the tiny perches of the tube feeders. Now about 5-7 doves hang out under the feeders pecking for scraps, but the majority have moved on, thankfully. The “Rustic Gold Chalet” feeder looks like a good choice, but I wonder about the platform. I’ll check one out, thanks for the recommendation. So, you get cardinals in Las Cruces?! That’s fabulous! Have never seen one in Abq, though we do get scarlet tanagers along the Bosque (but I live in the heights). I will check into the tube feeders you suggested as mine are pretty old. My set up is the one tree in our backyard and a couple of shepherd’s hooks. I also have 2 small bowl feeders full of meal worms set atop 8′ copper pipes for the robins, thrashers, and phoebes. (The extreme height is to keep the ground squirrels out of them.) Thanks again for your response and suggestions! Nice to meet another birder in NM. 🙂
Hi Carol – I’m from Las Cruces and have the same issue , ie, between feeding 3 doves or 30 songbirds. I gave in, and the only choice are the hanging bird feeders. I went to Home Depot and got some “84 in. Traditional Double Shepherd Hook (by Vigoro)”, “Rustic Gold Chalet Plastic Hanging Bird Feeder – 2 lb. Capacity,” and “Wild WingsWide Deluxe Easy Clean Metal Wild Bird Tube Feeder.” Secondly, I bought “Bird-X24 ft. Original Commercial Grade Stainless Steel Bird Spikes” and tied these on top of the shepherd hooks using plastic “Electrical Ties.” The “Rustic Gold Chalet” is good for sunflower seeds as the doves slip off the top of the feeder, so I get cardinals there. Hope this helps!
how can u ask something like that well its not bad to have pigeons they are so cute
Can you add a picture?
I keep 5 chicken free range in my suburban back yard…a flock of dozens of pigeons is stealing their food…I would welcome suggestions. I want to et rid of the pigeons but not harm the chickens.
We love pigeon pie.
There are a lot of good suggestions here, but, unfortunately, not for pigeons. The only way to get them away from your house and feeders, is to remove the feeders! I removed all my feeders, but left the birdbaths. It took at least two weeks for them to get the message. I used to have at least fifty pigeons, maybe more, at a time. Now, I only have about two or three that just don’t want to move to a new home. I have changed the way I feed the birds. Now, I’m more subtle. I have two hand-built flower boxes, 4′ x 2′ with lattice going up the back for vines. They’re filled with hydrangea, coneflowers, morning glory, etc. Now, I put the food under the hydrangea and I have two suet cages hanging off the lattice. I have the cardinals back to eat, the mockingbirds come for suet and a drink of water and this winter, I saw a few juncos. Of course, the two or three pigeons still come around, but have learned not to tell their friends. It’s the best that I could come up with so far. Hope this helps!
I live in New Mexico and while I don’t have a pigeon problem, I do have a white wing dove problem. Same issues as with pigeons: large, flappy & clumsy; total hogs who will swarm and decimate a bowl of mixed food in minutes; they eat everything (safflower, nyjer, black oil sunflower, meal worms, whole peanuts after picking them out of the shell…); they hang from the nyjer feeders, swing on the suet feeders…they do it all and eat it all. When they’re not raiding the feeders and scaring off ALL the other birds, they are busy trying to make more doves while balanced on the fence. We have 50-75 who swarm the yard and feeders, use the bird baths for toilets, and when we scare them off, they perch in the neighbors’ trees until the coast is clear and then the circus starts again. I have no idea what to do to get rid of them. They’re ruining the backyard birdscape for everyone. I’ve tried the techniques listed in the article to no avail. I’d be happy to feed them elsewhere, everyone’s got to eat, but they don’t seem to understand the concept and move to the new feeding area. The only things that scare them off (and the rest of the birds) are the when the roadrunners or the Cooper’s hawk visit.
Wire “cooling racks” from the Dollar Store. They are about 14″ x 18″. You can cut some openings in the wires to allow smaller birds to enter. You can hang them from the roof of your platform feeder with wire or zip-ties. It might take some time before the timid Cardinals will enter thru the openings, but be patient and they will figure it out.
Ive been feeding seed to wild birds in Rockhampton Queensland for 20 odd years – namely Lorikeets Galahs Cockatiels which has been lovely and no probs. But last year the Corellas turned up big time and at last they have all gone. Now pigeons have arrived and I dont know why after all this time but I need to see them gone ASAP (far too many) and no food left for my original visitors. Suggestions?
Please explain in more detail ? I love my quail and I’m in Vegas and I want my pigeons GONE.
Where was the part about covering the water?
Excellent article, and very helpful. What we’ve learned to do, for the ground feeding birds, is toss the birdseed in our large dog kennel. It’s got no roof, but we’ve covered it with a tarp, so all our smaller birds can eat, they just hop through the cage, and the pigeons are too large to get in there.
Fantastic…super informative and the part with partially covered top to stop pigeons from soiling the drinking water of the other birds with their cleaning…was awesome 🙂
Thanks- From Tx
I live in Las Vegas, NV and just moved to neighborhood that has an abundance of quail! Started feeding them about 1 month ago; no pigeons…until yesterday. Will try feeding quail late afternoon before pigeons get the word out to all their friends. Fingers crossed.
UNFORTUNATELY for me, I love to feed the Quail, which are also ground feeders, but the pigeons have found out and they follow the quail around -right on their tails! So, what I have done is hard, but I can feed the Quail which are disappearing from the desert around me is Put the Seed out in a tray late in the day when the pigeons are gone (they are not very patient later in the day). Same with water…the pigeons don’t drink. they bathe and fill the water with their dander and other junk. So water has to be in a bowl with a partially covered top. That’s not very inspiring, but it works (most of the time) for me!