How to Get Rid of Pigeons: A Complete Guide [2024]

Last Modified on May 21, 2024 by Zachary Smith

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Some people call pigeons “rats of the sky.” And for good reason: pigeons are dirty birds that carry disease and can cause significant damage to your home or business.

If you’re dealing with a pigeon problem, you’re probably at your wit’s end. Fortunately, our team is here to help.

Here at Smith’s Pest Management, we specialize in providing bird control services for commercial and residential clients in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast.

We’ve helped hundreds of property owners resolve bird issues, and we know how to get rid of pigeons quickly and humanely.

In this post, we’re sharing our top tips for DIY bird control and when to call a professional.

Why are Pigeons a Problem?

pigeon droppings

If you have pigeons on your property, you must act quickly. Pigeons can cause expensive damage to a property in a short period.

In fact, the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services branch considers pigeons the most serious bird pests for human habitations.

Here’s a sampling of the problems pigeons can cause:

  • Disease. Pigeon droppings carry diseases, including histoplasmosiscryptococcosis, and psittacosis. These diseases can be dangerous or life-threatening to people with certain conditions, like asthma or weakened immune systems.
  • Food contamination. In rural or agricultural areas, pigeons can contaminate food meant for livestock and human consumption.
  • Slip and fall risk. Pigeons gather in a behavior called roosting. As they roost, large numbers of pigeons congregate on rooftops and eaves and defecate on the structures below them. Unfortunately, the droppings that pigeons leave behind are very slippery, which can make walkways, decks, porches, and other areas dangerous for foot traffic. This is problematic for both residential and commercial properties.
  • Corrosive damage to buildings. In addition to being slippery, pigeon feces is highly acidic and can cause damage to buildings, siding, vegetation, and landscaping.
  • Blocked gutters and drainage. The presence of pigeon nests in gutters or downpipes can cause water backup, flooding, and other damage.
  • Fire risk. When pigeons build nests that block chimneys or flues, it can lead to a serious buildup of poisonous gasses and increased fire risk.

Pigeons reproduce rapidly, generating a clutch of 1-3 chicks with an incubation period of just 18 days.

If you have a pigeon problem on your property, it’s critical to act quickly.

The longer you wait, the more likely your property is to face costly repairs or irreversible damage.

How to Get Rid of Pigeons Quickly & Humanely

Pigeons can be a highly problematic pest. In addition to multiplying quickly and driving out beneficial bird species, they can be exceptionally difficult to get rid of.

Fortunately, it is possible.

Here are a few of our top tips to get rid of pigeons naturally, no matter where they’re living.

pigeon netting

How to Get Rid of Pigeons on the Roof: 7 Effective Methods

Getting pigeons off your roof requires some creativity, especially if your roof has pitches or eaves where the birds can nest.

Here’s what we recommend:

1. Deterrents

Wondering how to get rid of pigeons without hurting them? Deterrents like wire coils, stainless steel wires, and spikes are all low-profile additions that can prevent birds from perching on the roof.

For best results, install them on any flat surface where pigeons could land, including roof drip edges, flashing, and caps.

Pros: Easy to install, effective, non-lethal, low-profile

Cons: These solutions only deter pigeons from perching on certain surfaces, but will not keep them away from your property entirely 

2. Parallel Wires

If you want to keep pigeons off your roof, running parallel wires across the structure will keep pigeons from nesting or landing on the surface. You can install this parallel wire on your own or hire a professional pigeon control company to do it for you.

Pros: Effective, affordable, low-profile

Cons: May be difficult to install

3. Bird Gels

Bird gels are sticky gels that you can place on the roof to deter pigeons. While the gels don’t trap pigeons, they do create a sensation that the birds don’t like, which discourages them from landing on the roof.

Pros: Effective, affordable, low-profile

Cons: May be difficult to install on steeply-pitched roofs, requires regular replacement

4. Decoy Kites

Decoy kites are kite-shaped decoy bird images that you can fix to the eve of a roof.

The kites fly in the wind and deter pigeons from landing. The method is effective but may not work if you already have an established pigeon population on your roof.

Pros: Affordable, can be effective, non-toxic, humane

Cons: Will not reduce established pigeon populations, may be unsightly

5. Lasers

Like decoy kites, lasers deter pigeons with movement. Lasers, which are usually motion-activated, flash when pigeons land on the roof, startling them and discouraging them from roosting.

Pros: Non-toxic, humane for pigeons

Cons: The birds may become used to the lasers over time 

6. Netting

Nylon bird netting can be effective for roofs that have pitches and eaves that are attractive for pigeons.

Hung vertically along the siding of a building, bird netting prevents birds from perching on the roof or surface of the building. For pigeon control, we recommend a 50mm (2”) gauge net.

Pros: Nylon netting blends in with a building’s siding for a virtually invisible appearance, non-lethal, effective to prevent roosting and perching

Cons: Time-consuming to hang and maintain

7. Falconry

If you’d like to take a natural approach to deter pigeons, hire a professional falconer. Falconers use live birds of prey, such as hawks and falcons, to scare pigeons away.

The bird handlers direct the falcons to circle a problem area, communicating to pigeons that the area is occupied by a predator. Pigeons who see the bird of prey will move on and not come back.

Pros: Effective, humane, non-toxic

Cons: Not available in all areas 

How to Get Rid of Pigeons on the Balcony

Getting rid of pigeons in a small area like a balcony is possible with a few proactive steps.

Here are our top tips:

1. Netting

Netting forms a physical boundary that excludes birds from your balcony. When hung from the roof down to the sides of the balcony, it seals the area off from further pigeon intrusion.

Pros: Low-profile, won’t interfere with views, effective 

Cons: Time-consuming to hang and maintain

2. Deterrents

Wires, gel repellants, plastic birds of prey, and pigeon spikes can be used to deter pigeons from perching on the railing of your balcony.

Additionally, deterrents like sound machines (we recommend wind chimes or specially designed, motion-activated sound devices) and reflected light are excellent ways to keep pigeons off your balcony.

Pros: Low-cost, easy to install

Cons: These solutions may lose their effectiveness over time and will interfere with the appearance of your balcony

How to Get Rid of Pigeons in Your Garden

The best way to keep pigeons out of your garden is to identify their high-traffic areas and then deal with them in a targeted fashion.

Here are a few tips we recommend:

1. Scarecrows

Scarecrows are a form of deterrent that can work as long as you incorporate movement.

Consider adding a scarecrow in the shape of a hawk and hang old CDs from the body of the bird. The light and movement will scare pigeons away as they come to roost.

Remember to move the scarecrow every few weeks to keep the pigeons guessing.

Pros: Easy to install, affordable, non-lethal, low-profile 

Cons: May decrease in effectiveness over time, does not exclude pigeons or physically protect fruits and vegetables

2. Netting

Bird netting along sheds, eaves, and rafters can protect your outbuildings from pigeons, and prevent them from taking shelter near your garden.

Additionally, some people add bird netting over raised beds or around crops they want to protect.

Pros: Affordable, effective, prevents predation and roosting

Cons: Time-consuming to hang and maintain, netting must create a full seal around crops to be effective 

3. Pigeon-Proof Feeders

If you have bird feeders in your gardens, they may be attracting pest birds like pigeons.

To keep these birds away, invest in pigeon-proof bird feeders, which have a cage around the feeder designed to let small birds through but to stop pigeons in their tracks.

Other feeders are weight-sensitive and will dump heavier birds and pests – like pigeons and starlings – off.

Pros: Effective at excluding pigeons from feeders, will help reduce food sources for pigeons

Cons: Will not exclude or remove pigeons entirely

4. Strong Smells

Pigeons dislike strong smells, like cinnamon and hot pepper.

To deter pigeons from entering your garden, use cinnamon or peppermint essential oil or cayenne pepper mixed into a spray bottle of water. Spray the mixture anywhere you’ve noticed pigeon activity.

Pros: Affordable, non-toxic, effective

Cons: May cause irritation for kids, pets, or adults who encounter the spray, requires frequent reapplication

How to Get Rid of Pigeons in the Attic

If you have pigeons in your attic, we recommend trying these methods:

1. Exclusion

The first step to keeping pigeons out of your attic is to identify how they’re getting in.

We recommend blocking off any possible entrances, including vent openings and cracks in your soffits or eaves, with wire mesh. If possible, consider adding a layer of nylon bird netting to cover your building’s siding.

Pros: Highly effective, affordable, non-lethal, non-toxic, minimal impact on building’s appearance

Cons: Labor-intensive, requires annual upkeep

2. Deterrents

If you notice feces and feathers concentrated in a specific part of the attic, place deterrents like wire coils, spikes, gel pads, or plastic owls in the eaves above it. This will deter pigeons from congregating there.

We recommend using deterrents in the attic that you don’t have to move frequently (like spikes or wire coils) since they are a better long-term solution.

Pros: Effective at discouraging pigeons from returning, affordable, easy to install, non-lethal

Cons: Will not get rid of pigeons, most effective when used in conjunction with exclusion methods

How to Get Rid of Pigeons in Your Barn

pigeon bird spike

Getting rid of pigeons in the barn involves using many of the same tactics to get rid of pigeons on a roof or in the attic.

Here’s what we recommend:

1. Exclusion

Use wire mesh to block off all potential entry points where pigeons could be accessing your barn. We also recommend hanging long plastic strips in the entrance to your barn, down to the level of about a foot above the floor.

This will prevent pigeons from flying in but will allow livestock, people, and machinery to move through freely.

Pros: Effective, affordable, non-lethal, safe for livestock and pets

Cons: Labor-intensive, requires ongoing maintenance

2. Deterrents

Spikes, stakes, gel deterrents, and light and sound will all work to discourage pigeons from common roosting areas and keep them from coming back.

Pros: Effective at preventing pigeons from returning, affordable, easy to install, non-lethal

Cons: Will not get rid of pigeons, most effective when used in conjunction with exclusion methods

3. Sanitation

Pigeons often roost in barns because barns provide easy access to favorite food sources like corn and grain.

Practice good sanitation in your barn: secure your livestock feed in plastic tubs with locking lids or closed-off rooms and remove any existing sources of food the pigeons may be taking advantage of.

Keep trash and manure disposal sites away from the barn or outbuildings and be sure to clean up any spilled grain or livestock feed promptly.

Pros: Can be effective when used in conjunction with other methods, will also deter other pests (such as rats and mice) from infesting your property

Cons: Labor-intensive, will not eliminate pigeons

How to Get Rid of Pigeons in Your Warehouse

Many of the same tricks that work to get pigeons out of barns and off roofs will work to keep them out of warehouses.

Here’s what we recommend:

1. Exclusion

In addition to patching all cracks, gaps, and vents pigeons could use to get into your warehouse, we recommend considering alternative door options, like plastic strips, that will keep pigeons from flying in.

Nylon bird netting can also be effective for some warehouses.

Pros: Effective, affordable, low impact, will not interfere with the function of your warehouse

Cons: Labor-intensive to install, requires upkeep

2. Deterrents

Scare devices like flashing lights and motion-activated noise deterrents are highly effective at keeping pigeons out of warehouses.

Pair these devices with other deterrents like gel strips or spikes and place them in areas the pigeons like to frequent.

Pros: Effective, especially when combined with exclusion methods, affordable, easy to install

Cons: Works best in conjunction with other methods

How to Get Rid of Pigeons Under Solar Panels

Because pigeons love the shelter and security solar panel systems offer, getting rid of pigeons under solar panels can be complex.

We recommend the following:

1. Netting

Netting makes it impossible for the pigeons to access the panel system and can protect your entire array from bird infestation.

Pros: Thin nylon netting will not impact the appearance of your panels, non-lethal, effective to prevent roosting, perching, and damage to panel components

Cons: Time-consuming to hang and maintain

2. Deterrents

Deterrents like roof spikes, plastic predators (we recommend models with swivel heads since they create movement), and light and sound devices are tried-and-true methods for keeping pigeons from interfering with panels.

Place them in high-traffic locations to prevent pigeons from setting up shop.

Pros: Effective at discouraging pigeons, affordable, easy to install, non-lethal

Cons: Will not get rid of pigeons, most effective when used in conjunction with exclusion methods

3. Sanitation & Panel Repair

Remove all obvious sources of food the pigeons may be eating. Clean up and store pet food, invest in pigeon-proof bird feeders, and keep trash in tightly locked containers.

While this won’t remove pigeons from your solar panels, it will make the area less attractive for them.

Additionally, be sure to maintain your solar panels. Pigeons are more likely to roost in panels that are broken or compromised. Keep your panels in good repair and have them fixed if they show signs of wear.

Pros: Effective, easy to do, prevents other pest species 

Cons: Does not remove existing pigeons  

Does Rice Kill Pigeons?

Many people believe that feeding rice to pigeons will kill them. According to popular myth, uncooked rice expands inside a bird’s stomach, killing them rapidly.

Here’s the truth, though:

Rice does not harm pigeons.

In fact, pigeons consume grain just like any other pest and will see rice as a potential food source. With this in mind, we strongly advise avoiding rice or poison as a DIY pigeon control method.

How do Pest Control Experts Get Rid of Pigeons?

pigeon control experts

If your DIY methods haven’t been effective to get rid of pigeons, or you simply want a stronger approach, it’s time to contact a bird control expert.

We know pigeon control can be a complex job, so we follow a proven system to get these birds off your property.

Here’s what you can expect when you work with us:

Bird Netting

As we’ve outlined in the tips above, bird netting is one of the most effective ways to keep pigeons and other birds from roosting on your property or around your buildings.

Our team takes an advanced approach to bird netting – placing heavy-duty, impenetrable nylon mesh securely around the areas you want to protect.

If you already have birds inside your building, netting will allow them to fly out, but not to return. This resolves even the most severe pigeon problems quickly, completely, and humanely.

Bird Spikes

We discourage lethal means of pigeon removal. Instead, our team uses bird spikes (often in conjunction with other methods, such as netting) to discourage birds from roosting on your home, roof, or outbuildings.

The spikes attach to your structure and make it uncomfortable or impossible for birds to land in the area. While the spikes will not harm a bird that encounters them, they do cause enough discomfort to discourage the birds from returning.

Bird Deterrents

If the pigeon problem persists, our team can use one of a selection of bird deterrents to keep pigeons off your property.

We’ll work with you to take a collaborative approach to bird removal, and ensure we’re deploying the most effective solution for your property and needs.

Dealing with a Pigeon Problem at Your San Francisco Bay Area Home or Business?  We’re Here to Help!

Pigeons can be a difficult pest to get rid of, but you don’t have to live with them forever.

Here at Smith’s Pest Management, our team helps residential and commercial customers in Northern California – from Marin to Monterey – deal with their pigeon problems once and for all.

Ready to get rid of pigeons and reclaim your property? Contact us today for a free quote: (408) 471-6988

Author Bio: Zach Smith

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 15+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.