Controlling pigeon population numbers is not a new challenge. For decades, pigeons have adjusted to living in built-up areas, sharing these streets and buildings with people and adapting to thrive in these urban spaces.
Their regular breeding habits and ability to feed on a wide variety of food has enabled this hardy bird to survive in areas with human population for years, surviving on food waste and taking advantage of shelter in small crevices in buildings; allowing pigeons to nest and breed in vast numbers.
Over the years, different methods have been tried to control pigeon populations or prevent pigeons from roosting – each with varying levels of success. We list here some historically effective, and ineffective, tactics of pigeon repellent and pigeon control.
Prowler owls or predator decoys are models of birds of prey, mounted onto balconies and roofs to scare away pigeons. Introduced many years ago, the idea behind implementing these fake birds was to frighten away pigeons, as they recognize the shape of the predatory bird and flee the area. You can still buy these models today.
Unfortunately, these faux birds of prey are often not lifelike enough, and these traps don’t fool pigeons. Furthermore, by nature, peregrine falcons or owls move around regularly, as they will change their route to follow a different hunting pattern; something that these static models cannot do and another reason these traps aren’t convincing. The pigeons nesting in the area will quickly learn that the model owl isn’t a threat and will be more likely to use the plastic bird as somewhere to perch!
Most poisons previously developed for pigeon control have now been banned and are deemed illegal across the US. Not only were these tactics profoundly inhumane, but they were also proved to be ineffective. Many cities and towns tried using strong poison to drug or kill large populations of the birds; however, it was found that the methods didn’t last and were entirely unsuccessful for long-term avian control.
Rather than providing a solution, what occurred was a significant cull of the pigeon population, but some birds would always survive and re-establish the flock. The pigeons that did not die were left with more food per bird, resulting in them nesting and breeding once again. The initial surplus of food attracted more birds in from outside of the area and worsening the problem in the long-term.
This method also had adverse effects on predators of pigeons, including peregrine falcons and other large birds of prey. In Melbourne in 2004, misuse of pigeon poisoning made national news when a pair of rare and treasured peregrine falcons were killed, along with their two chicks, after eating illegally poisoned birds.
Some versions of stupefying poisons have also been tried in towns and cities, but with adverse effects. Rather than providing a solution, residents were horrified when pigeons began dropping from the sky into cars and flying into windows. This method of drugging pigeons was stopped.
In 2007, a chemical known as Nicarbazin was introduced – a contraceptive drug to halt pigeon breeding. Unrecognized by pigeons, the drug is eaten and ingested by the birds and is a complete hormone-free and fully reversible method of controlling pigeon reproduction. Use cases have shown that the birds haven’t suffered any long-term effects after eating the drug and the drug is not transferrable onto other scavengers or predators of pigeons.
It has yet to become widely accepted in some countries. However, it is deemed legal and safe to use within the US.
Shock tracks were established as a potential solution many years ago for pigeon control; these strips give a short and painful electrical shock for birds that land on window sills and ledges and deter the birds from nesting. Now deemed inhumane, the use of shock tracks is frowned upon and considered a cruel tactic for bird control as it causes pain to the animals. Shock tracks are now banned in some countries – although available still to purchase in the US, they were made illegal in 1981 in the United Kingdom.
Shock tracks are not exclusively dangerous to pigeons; they also harm other avian populations. Where the traps may zap a pigeon or a gull, it will cause lethal damage to smaller birds, killing them instantly. During wet weather, the effect is multiplied, and the harm increased, due to the conductive nature of water with electricity.
Many companies that have previously installed the traps on their property have suffered negative publicity, and their use is still frowned upon today.
In use for many years, the sight of pigeon spikes on ledges, and the tops of buildings is still a common occurrence. Many people consider the use of pigeon spikes to be one of the most effective methods of pigeon control; however, it’s often not the case.
Rather than providing a spiky surface which stops the pigeons from landing, pigeons have been able to clog the spikes with twigs and debris, allowing the birds to nest amongst the poles — thus achieving the opposite effect and not a pigeon repellent!
In many countries it is also illegal to remove a nest, with restrictions around disrupting the roosting birds, resulting in a much longer-term pigeon problem.
Behavioural Pigeon Control
Having learned from decades of tried and tested, successful and failed attempts of controlling pigeon population, we now know what tactics will work most effectively. Pigeons are agile creatures that can adjust to their surroundings and will adapt quickly to their environment. Changing the pigeon’s setting is an ineffective method of avian control, and so we focus instead on behavioural pigeon control strategies.
Why it works:
- By focusing on pigeon behaviour, we change natural habits by using methods of behavioural modification, naturally encouraging the birds away from the area.
- We work using humane methods to relocate the pigeons, which are entirely harmless and legal.
- Pigeon spikes don’t work! Rather than stopping the birds from landing, pigeons can nest in them – creating an even bigger problem.
- We focus on removing the nesting birds, which in turn encourages the other birds to leave. After removing the ‘leaders’ of the pigeon flock, the remainder of the pigeon flock can be moved off the property behaviourally.
- Using cleaning methods and unharmful chemicals to remove pheromones naturally discourages pigeon breeding and reproduction and stops the birds from nesting.
- By establishing the core nesting zones for the flock, these can be isolated and removed and will halt the birds from breeding further.
- Bird nesting is a behaviour and not something created by an environment. By using methods of operant conditioning, the pigeons will be trained to associate specific actions with consequences and can be taught not to nest in an area.
U.S. Pigeon Control
We understand the havoc that nesting pigeons can create, and the unwanted effects that these birds can cause – transfer of disease, waste from pigeon droppings, unwanted noise and damage to buildings. We pride ourselves on our tactics of humane pigeon control to create a long-term and sustainable pigeon control strategy: call us today on 1 (866) 674-7779 to find out how we can help you to solve your pigeon problem