How to Get Rid of Birds and Pigeons
By The Pigeon Guy
Birds and pigeons are normally forgotten as rodents but are often an equal threat to the public just as any other pest. For instance, pigeons are some times called “flying rats”. Pigeons can carry diseases and generate fecal matter that is every bit as lethal as any rat or mouse. Some of these viruses can be transported to humans. (See http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PS019 for avian diseases transferable to humans) Birds and pigeons present special problems because they fly or perch over the unsuspectingly public and depositing their bio-waste from far above.
This article will discuss the modern day solutions for getting rid of unwanted birds and pigeons as well some pros and cons for each available solution. As long as there is food, water and shelter; rodents, birds and pigeons will find harbor in and around man’s shelter or surroundings.
How do you get rid of birds and pigeons? Let’s start with the most popular option.
Fake Owl Statues
The fake owl is just that. When you look up at a building and you see the pigeons standing on the head of an owl statue, it pretty much defines the logic behind this solution. People try this solution because it is cost effective and it sounds like a real good plan. So why don’t you see dog statues on the lawn to keep the cats out?
Because it does not work. The owl does not move! So why don’t you buy an owl that will move and raise its wings? Pigeons become trained to ignore the still owl or moving owl because the bird’s sense there is no real live threat. The non-threatening fake owls only serve to train pigeons to ignore the owl moving or not. While cost effective, fake owls are a waste of time and money.
Do fake owls work? Only for a while then you have to decide what to do with your fake owls.
Bird spikes are a devise that is designed to keep birds and pigeons from perching on the ledges or edges of building structures. They look like sharp needles standing up on angle. Spikes are made of a variety of metals and plastics from stainless steel, tin, aluminum alloy to clear acrylic composite plastics. All must be glued or epoxied to the surface that host the spikes. The overall effectiveness of spikes is questionable, simply because pigeons tend to collect debris like pine needles and such, and drop them over the spikes to create nests. In effect the spikes act as bird foundations or place holders. Spikes also collect bird and pigeon dander, certainly not an added bonus.
Besides being moderately priced, spikes have very little aesthetic value, meaning they make any building look like it is from medieval times. In short, spikes look horrible. There are a lot of spikes around when you look closely in your city. For instance the light fixtures around Disneyland have spikes installed all over the light poles of their property and they make the poles look like a dinosaur or fish bone grave yard. For home owners they are impractical, not only are they ugly but they won’t pass most homeowners associations CC&Rs. Bird spikes come in two basic formats; plastic and metal. Plastic break after being in the sun for long periods and the pigeons break them off as they become brittle. New plastics that are UV treated are available and you guessed it; at a greater cost. They all look like clear combs for Godzilla. Metal spikes are more expensive but they come in various materials and qualities. Whether it is tin or sheet metal all are intended to be a sharp pointed edge used to poke or stab the birds off the perch. Metal and plastic spikes must be repaired and cleaned on a regular basis. They do not address the main objective of getting rid of the birds and pigeons. Spikes in fact more often, invite the birds and pigeons to stay to build nests. Spikes are not an effective solution and they look hideous by anyone’s standards. Do spikes work? Yes for a while and they are more effective in small areas away from public view.
Bird nets are another low tech solution. You see nets made of nylon, fiber and wire all over the landscape. Nets are used to cover large areas that have infrastructure to secure the nets with screws and hooks. The “fish” net concept is used keep out the birds and pigeons in ceiling areas and over roof tops. In these situations pigeons and birds are living in the area because it is safe and protected against the elements. Whole ceiling areas have been known to be netted.
Are nets effective? They can be. Pigeons will usually try to defeat the nests by flying into them or pecking at the material until they break. Dive bombing pigeons will normally kill themselves and get their wings broken or hung up in the netting making an unsightly mess for someone to remove the carcass. Like most fiber material the birds will wear the materials down by pecking on the fiber with their beaks and make a hole some how and get in behind the net then get caught behind it. Worst yet, as more pigeons get behind the net and then there is a party. Bird dander and feces start to get built up on the netting and you have to then take the nets down or replace them. Nets are not cheap or easy to install. Beyond cost or effectiveness nets look just as bad as spikes. They look cheap and dirty and simply do not enhance any building. So if you have the budget and don’t mind the neo-net look, nets might be ok for a period of time. Again nets are impractical for home owners.
Bird sounders are noise makers. There are a ton of varieties on the market that run on batteries or direct current. Noise makers make a noise in various options; gun shots, chirping, crowing, screeching, hawk sounds, car horns, fire crackers and many more. All of the sounds are annoying to humans and rarely work and when they do work they are for a short period until your pigeons become trained not to react to the noise any longer. Most often the noise is so offensive, the public usually makes the people who put them up, turn them off. Bird and pigeon sounders are headache music. One major reason birds don’t react well to noise devices are because birds are more responsive to touch, smell and sight. Hearing for a bird is not a primary sense. They are like kids; they hear you but don’t respond. Running power to a bird sounder is crazy, especially if you are in a corn field in IOWA, no bird is going to listen when the food is on the table.
You would be lucky to hear anything on a New York City street, let alone a bird sounder. The noise in NY at street level has to be in the 85 decibel range and they have a million pigeons. If the noise in NY cannot move the pigeons to Connecticut, no bird noise maker will. Do bird sounders work? If they do it is for a short time but it is a dumb idea.
Electric Bird Wires
Electrical bird wires are devices that are designed to mildly shock birds upon their stepping on the line. Electrical lines are spaced a few inches from each other hoping the bird’s steps on the wires and get a jolt. The current is supposed to be low enough not to fry a bird. But to be shocked by electricity, one must be grounded. Ever notice why birds stand on electrical lines and never die? It is because they are not grounded. The amps go in and out through the pigeon’s body.
What has been observed are pigeons, being the highly trainable bird that they are, just learn to step over the lines. Electrical lines for birds have their draw backs. In snow and rain they normally short out but they do melt the snow. Running power to a roof and then to a ledge several stories tall or zigzag across a roof does not sound too practical and certainly costly at electrician rates. Bird wires tend to heat up the surface, just what a pigeon wants to feel; warm – so it can survive the winter. Electrical lines are favored by some bird animal rights organizations. Of course it was recommended – they don’t work! This is a very low percentage solution. Again you are only treating the symptom, not the disease. If you are going to electrocute birds you might as well poison or shoot them. Not a good idea for the environment or the animal kingdom.
Bird Lines are devices that take a high tinsel strength wire mounted on a ledge between two line posts. You see them about 3 inches off the ledges strung real tight. The concept is to prevent the bird from landing. Well if you were running full bore and ran into a stainless steel thin wire, you might hang yourself or cut off a few limbs off.
Pigeons and birds with no legs don’t seem to live long. Tall birds just step over the lines this is known as crossing the line – the last straw. Bird lines are generally installed on the edge of a ledge, if the ledge is wide, they are useless. All the bird does is move back. Not only are bird lines dangerous, one must hope to never have to get up on the ledge again. Spiderman would certainly have an issue with bird lines. Generally the bird lines last for a time then they loose strength and break like a worn violin string. Do they work? Not really but if it makes you feel good, bird lines are for sale somewhere.
Bird Cage Traps
Bird Cage Traps are cages with a door made of wire rebar. The trap has a dispenser in it and it feeds seeds, grain like corn and water to the birds. The pigeons enter the trap looking for the food. When the bird gets in the cage it thrashes around trying to get out and kicks the grain out of the cage and the remaining birds and rats have a field day. The cages are set on roofs and gas station canopies. Bird cage companies say cages only catch 20% of the birds that are around, so they are inefficient. Worst yet, the rats come and then there is a whole other infestation problem. Cages have been seen with no water or shade for the birds and of course if there is along delay in the collection process the mortality rate is high. Bird cages don’t seem to be humane. Besides who wants a big old bird cage sitting on the roof?
Bird Gel Repellents – No Active Ingredients
There are a host of bird gels available. Bird Repellants in GEL FORM break down into to categories; Gel with active ingredients and those without. No active ingredient gel repellents rely on the stickiness of the gel. Almost all non-active ingredient gel uses polybutene. Most of which can not be good for the environment. The tar or polybutene is the same adhesive powers as indoor mouse glue traps; these tend to keep the birds and pigeons from moving while one foot is stuck to the tar. While sometimes effective for one or two pigeons, polybutene can some times keep the bird from flying off especially small birds. The label on one of the more popular gels recommends laying down this tar based product every three months. It also recommends that an undercoating be used before application. This is an incredible amount of work and increases the cost of installation. Tar builds up on your hand rails or ledges are not advised as they harden and then need to be ground off. This type of gel is so sticky even the label on the tube says its “effectiveness diminishes as bird dander, leaves; debris and dust collect on it.” Most people and professionals agree this polybutene gel is pretty ineffective. The one great thing about gels; they don’t not deform the architecture and you can hardly see or notice the stuff is being used in most cases. Professional bird chasers will tell you gel with no active ingredient is the least preferred method of bird or pigeon abatement. For small areas, gel made with polybutene might be enough but just note the drawbacks.
Bird Gel Repellents – Active Ingredients
Most recently, bird gels with active ingredients made from all natural active ingredients (NAI) providing new technology in response to public demand for a product that does not harm pigeons, birds, the environment and humans. These very low evasive products are very effective and really deter pigeons and birds away. The leading bio-repellent; Bird-OFF Clear Gel is an all organic natural vegetable extract (NVE) component using geranimum oil in the gel itself. It instinctively makes the bird react react to the astringent skin reaction. The bird or pigeons react and can’t wait to leave for a new location far away. The second reaction is to the smell of the NVE ingredient. It appeals to the bird’s sense of smell, an odor that is very uncomfortable to a bird but will not hurt them. The NVE gels keep the active ingredients performing in a gel base for up to 2-3 years. (For more information on NVE Gels, please go to www.birdxpert.com)
With the active ingredient and the low profile of a clear gel, NVE bird repellents are one the best alternatives to get rid of pigeons and birds. Easy to apply, quick, very effective and low in cost, the immediate results of NVE gels that last for several years, without ruining the look of your building are attractive. These non-pesticide or bio-repellents are unbeatable if they are applied correctly and made with integrity.
Hawkers will come out and release the Hawks to terrorize the pigeons. Sometimes the hawks catch pigeons in mid air while swooping down on them. This seems extreme and once the hawks are gone, the pigeons come back. The cost is high but so is the media attention. Better to look at the real source of the problem than face that public battle.
How to get rid of birds and pigeons
There are three simple things to remember when trying to get rid of pigeons:
1) Eliminate the food source
2) Eliminate the water source
3) Prevent roosting, nesting and eliminate shelter for the pigeons or birds
Eliminating one and not the others will not help much. Once pigeons and birds are born to an area, they will keep coming back so the trick is to end the roosting and nesting cycle.
There other devices on the market like bird poison, bird lasers, rifles, ultra sound, traps, scare crows; all of which seem to work for a short while. Many of them these devices are just short term. Companies that sell pigeon or bird solutions sell you the easy choices in hope of trading you up to the more expensive plans and devices as you become more desperate.
What ever you devise or product you choose be sure to remain careful around bird guano and always use gloves, goggles and at least a dust mask or respirator. Wash up in hot water and soap and do not touch your eyes or eat until after you have sanitized with anti-bacteria gel for humans like Purell®.
The Pigeon Guy – John Honjiyo