How to get rid of pigeons – on your roof, balconies and in your backyard

Asking how to get rid of pigeons when they’re causing a nuisance on your property? Use our guide

(Image credit: Alamy)

Wondering how to get rid of pigeons? They might have become a nuisance because so many of them gather in your yard that they’re hogging all the bird food and depriving the smaller birds of their due.

Or perhaps their numbers mean your driveway and vehicles are getting covered in droppings? And while their cooing can be pleasant, you might have discovered that a large group of pigeons can be noisy, and the sound of their wings loud as they startle and fly off.

So, if occasional visitors have become a large and disruptive presence, this is how to get rid of pigeons humanely.

How to get rid of pigeons

There are good reasons why pigeons flock to a location. ‘Pigeons are attracted to spaces that provide them with shelter and a food source,’ says Darren Backhouse of MJ Backhouse Pest Control. ‘Roof spaces and solar panel installations can provide good spots for them to nest so bird-proofing measures are important.’

Fortunately, there are a variety of options you can use when you’re searching for the answer to how to get rid of pigeons, and they should be employed together. ‘Humanely deterring birds like pigeons requires multisensory deterrents (sight, touch, smell) used in conjunction to one another,’ explains Elizabeth Frieling, co-owner of Vanguard Wildlife Solutions, a veteran-owned and operated business providing strategic wildlife removal and repair solutions in Southern New England.

Get in the know with our guide.

1. Remove pigeons’ food sources

As with getting rid of raccoons, prevention is a good strategy for a pigeon problem. ‘Eliminate potential sources of food and do not feed them,’ recommends biologist and training specialist Thomas Ward of Critter Control.

Make sure that trash cans, recycling bins and compost bins are secure and don’t provide pigeons with food. Clean up scraps after outdoor meals, and ensure they can’t access pet food either. This will help deter rats, and get rid of mice, too.

2. Stop pigeons nesting

There are plenty of places pigeons will choose to make their home. ‘For both residential and commercial properties, the main problem from pigeons is when they roost on ledges, roofs, chimneys, or in attics, sheds, and barns,’ says Thomas Ward. ‘If a pigeon has a nest inside somewhere, it will need to be removed.’

‘One of the most effective ways to humanely get rid of pigeons is to deny them a place to land and perch, which can be done with a variety of products, such as a bird slope,’ he adds. 

Bird spikes can perform the same task. ‘They keep the birds from landing on the surface, preventing them from scouting around for suitable nesting spots,’ explains Jordan Foster of Fantastic Pest Control. ‘There are a variety of spikes designed for different implementations.’

Netting can also be used. ‘Nets with half-inch mesh keep pigeons from gaining access to a specific location,’ says Thomas. 

Other habitat modification can be worthwhile. ‘Regularly prune trees with dense branches and leaf covers,’ advises Thomas, although he does point out that this may have limited effect since often pigeons nest and roost on manmade structures.

3. Repel pigeons

There are a variety of solutions on offer to repel pigeons. ‘Optical gel is a tool that has incredible results deterring birds when used correctly,’ says Elizabeth Frieling. ‘The product uses multi-sensory disks that must be spaced a certain way.  

‘It is made from citronella, peppermint oil, agar, and beeswax – pigeons do not like the smell of citronella or peppermint oil.  

‘You clean the area beforehand to remove bird pheromones. Application of optical gel masks pheromones and creates a sight disturbance, and if pigeons were to touch it, it would be sticky. The birds won’t like it – but it doesn’t harm them. 

‘The product is both humane and more aesthetically pleasing than bird spikes,’ she adds.

Zoologist specializing in ornithology Joseph Greene, founder and CEO of Trinidad Birding, recommends an ultrasonic deterrent. ‘These devices are small and discreet, they can be placed anywhere and omit a sound that humans cannot hear, however, birds can,’ he explains. ‘The sound is quite jarring to the bird population and will quickly deter them from staying and nesting in the area. 

‘As long as the device is functioning, the birds will stay away and it will cause no harm to them. You can also purchase solar-powered devices so you never have to maintain them.’

Try wind chimes, suggests Jordan Foster. ‘Installing a wind chime is one way to discourage pigeons from nesting on your deck or balcony. The sound of wind chimes helps to ward off unwanted visitors. Some of those chimes have reflective objects that discourage pigeons from hanging around.’

There are also pigeon-repellent gels available. ‘This product usually contains ingredients such as essential oils, which are offensive to pigeons,’ says Jordan. ‘Gels are typically applied to ledges or areas where they do not belong. Nevertheless, they are a short-term solution since the gel quickly dries or is covered by dust or debris, making it ineffective and requiring reapplication.’

Alternatively, try reflective surfaces. ‘This is a tried-and-true method for keeping birds away from your garden,’ says Jordan. ‘For example, many of us have seen this used in the form of CDs or other shiny objects that reflect sunlight when viewed from the side. Moving light is irritating to birds. Motion-activated lights, scare tape, and reflective spiral stickers can adequately deter birds,’ he adds.

4. Call in a professional

If the problem is a large flock, professional help may be required to get rid of pigeons. They can then be trapped and dealt with according to the city or region’s rules.

What scent will keep pigeons away?

There are many scents suggested to keep pigeons away. ‘There are misting and wicking products that use grape scent as a bird repellent,’ says Thomas Ward.

‘Pigeons and other birds are said to dislike spices like chilli and cinnamon but this is a very temporary solution,’ says Darren Backhouse. 

Citronella – which can also help deter wasps and get rid of mosquitoes – and peppermint oil are also fragrances pigeons don’t appreciate.

What is the best deterrent for pigeons?

A combination of methods is likely to be the best deterrent for pigeons. Bird slopes and spikes can stop them nesting, and nets can prevent entry into an area of your property.

You could also try scaring pigeons. ‘Laser products can cause enough disturbance to be effective in some situations,’ says Thomas Ward. As for other ways of scaring them, remember that pigeons are used to humans. ‘Frightening devices for pigeons are not very effective,’ he says.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.