Feeding and caring for garden birds is vital for conserving species and helping our environment thrive all year round. However, one species that most gardeners could happily do without is pigeons. Considered a pest species, pigeons are potentially damaging birds that can cause serious trouble in a garden. It’s only natural to want to deter them. However, sometimes, in an effort to rid your garden of these winged pests, you can scare other, beneficial birds away from your property too.
How to keep pigeons out of your garden
If pigeons have become a pest, you may be thinking about how to scare away pigeons and not other birds. Deterring pigeons without disturbing our other feathered friends is definitely possible with the right equipment and some easy tricks.
1) Install Different Nesting Boxes
Pigeon’s nesting habits are rather strange, but they usually create their nests on dry, flat surfaces such as in attics, on roofs or under bridges. Their nests tend to be quite flimsy, made from gathered sticks and debris, so they usually choose places that already have fairly good protection. Because of this, open, large nesting boxes may become an unwilling home to pigeons.
To avoid giving them an easy home, opt for nesting boxes that will let wild birds in, and keep pigeons out. We recommend ground haven cages, and nesting boxes such as this Snuggler nest box with a smaller entrance. These will allow smaller garden birds to nest safely in your garden and force pigeons to find another spot.
Browse our selection of nesting boxes
2) Use Bird Netting Around Your Sheds
Pigeons prefer sheltered places to set up their nests, including the eaves and roofs of sheds. To discourage them from doing so, you can make use of bird netting, one of the more humane deterrents. Netting will trap pigeons without hurting them, so they will soon learn that coming to your property is a pointless exercise. You can also use bird netting around your garden and the exterior of your house; however, this is likely to affect other birds and may drive them away too. Don’t forget to check your bird netting regularly, as you will have to release any trapped animals.
3) Call In the Professionals
If no other methods have worked and pigeons remain a nuisance on your property, it may be time to call in the professionals. Pest control companies are perfectly equipped to remove pigeons from your property and protect your home from further issues. Most will do this humanely, though remember that if contractors deal with pigeons illegally, you will ultimately be responsible.
How To Stop Pigeons Eating Bird Food
Bird food is a main attraction to pigeons and, as ‘bully birds’, they won’t play nicely with others that try to visit your feeder once they’ve claimed it. Naturally, this will drive away the exciting garden birds that you want to see. To stop pigeons eating your bird food, try:
- Wheat Free Food – Wheat free foods deter pigeons and other larger birds like pheasants, whereas mixes which are seed-dense ensure smaller birds get a chance to eat. Other foods pigeons don’t like include peanuts in the shell, suet and mealworms.
- Using Different Feeders – Going for smaller feeders or those with smaller perches will deter pigeons since they can’t get the food easily. We recommend a squirrel proof feeder which will keep a range of bigger animals away.
- Setting Up a Separate Feeder – If you are happy to feed pigeons but don’t want to discourage other birds from your garden, try setting up a separate feeder. Put this a distance away from your regular feeder and make sure it is completely accessible to pigeons, so everyone gets their fair share.
- Catching Dropped Seed – Seed that has fallen from birdfeeders is the perfect target for pigeons. Catching the falling seed in a container that pigeons will have a hard time accessing or regularly cleaning up dropped seed will remove the easy pickings.
We have an excellent range of no wheat bird food for you to try.
How to make a bird table pigeon proof
Many people choose to place feed and seed on a bird table. Bird tables are an open banquet to pigeons and may be the main reason that they have decided to set up in your garden. Pigeon proofing your bird table could drive them away. To protect your bird table, you could use chicken wire to create a cage big enough for regular birds to get into, but small enough to keep pigeons out.
Alternatively, you could opt for smaller bird tables that will allow other birds to feed without any interruption from large pigeons, or a feeder sanctuary that comes with a built-in cage to protect the food.
Why Are Pigeons Bad for Your Garden?
Pigeons are the bane of many a gardener’s life because of the nuisance and destruction they cause. Since they tend to visit early in the morning, you’re unlikely to witness active pigeons in your garden. However, if you have a pigeon infestation on your hands, you may be exposed to:
- Torn Plants – Pigeons will feed on a range of plants by pecking at the leaves and ripping off chunks. All that tends to be left is any large leaf veins and the stalks. Pigeons usually favour cherries, lilac, peas and brassica vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower, so these may be a target. Also, they may strip the leaves and produce from fruit bushes.
- Droppings – Pigeons are sociable animals and tend to travel in flocks of 20 – 30[i]. Because of the size of their groups, pigeon droppings are likely to show up quickly when they’ve settled. Fresh droppings can be a risk, since they are slippery and could cause accidents.
- Health Risks – The bacteria, fungi and parasites found in pigeon droppings may pose a health risk to pets and young children who don’t know better. Pigeons actually carry more diseases than rats[ii], and their droppings attract mites that will cause us to itch.
- Blocked Drains – Pigeons will make their nests out of a range of debris and litter. Anything they accidently drop or that gets blown away may block your drains and gutters, leading to some expensive repairs.
- Fire Risks – As well as debris and litter, pigeons have also been known to take lit cigarettes back to their nests. Obviously, if these land in their nests, it poses a huge fire risk.
- Attacks – Although pigeons usually avoid humans, they may swoop in if you happen to be eating outside. Also, pigeons have been known to attack humans if they feel they are a threat to their young.
The Laws on Deterring Pigeons
When dealing with any wild animal, it’s vital that you’re aware of the laws around it. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to
- Kill or injure any wild bird without meeting general licensing regulations
- Harm pigeons’ eggs
- Disturb pigeons’ nests while they’re occupied
Anybody experiencing an issue with pigeons must know that the responsibility to ensure these rules are met falls on them, even if they bring in a contractor to solve their problem. Should the contractor use illegal methods to deal with the birds, the property owner will be liable.[iii]
Choose Kinder Methods
Although pigeons are classified as pests, you should still treat them humanely. After all, they are wild animals and can’t help but follow their instincts. Try some of the kinder methods outlined here, and we’re sure that your garden will be free of pigeons in no time.
Do you have your own method for deterring pigeons from your garden? Let us know in the comments below!
Gemma Sharp is the resident writer for Garden Wildlife Direct, a supplier of premium bird food and accessories. She has had a genuine love for our feathered friends from a young age, and has dedicated a lot of her time to learning all there is to know about them. If you’re struggling to pick the right bird feed for your garden, need help identifying a type of wild bird, or can’t decide where to put a nesting box, Gemma is the person to go to! She is passionate about sharing her years of learnt knowledge with the public. In her free time, she can be found feeding birds at home with her three young boys.