Deterring pigeons

Posted: Monday 8 July 2013
by Adam Pasco

Attracting wildlife has always been an important part of gardening for me. But creating a rich and varied environment, open to all, comes with a downside...

Attracting wildlife has always been an important part of gardening for me. But creating a rich and varied environment, open to all, comes with a downside – it attracts species that aren’t really welcome.

Bees, butterflies, frogs and toads, and a host of birds and insect species are all welcome in my garden. But then there are pigeons. While most wildlife fills my heart with joy, pigeons are a source of frustration and annoyance. I don't mind them elsewhere, but in my garden, they're a pest.

No sooner had I planted out a few rows of rocket and salad, they were chewed to their base by pigeons. Yesterday I watched them tearing off the leaves of my lilac tree.

And pigeons never arrive on their own. They come as a team - or should that be flock? I regularly spot groups of 8-12 pigeons - sometimes more - sitting on neighbouring roofs and trees. Some have taken up residence, and roost in my silver birch. The paving under my arch, the bench, lawn, and any other area they visit, is covered with their droppings.

Rushing outside with waving arms and clapping hands scares the pigeons away for a few minutes, as does letting our dog run down the garden. They soon return, though, once we're back indoors. This bird scaring could become a full-time occupation, unless I find a better solution.

I became so annoyed by them last week, that I searched the internet for solutions. Netting the whole garden clearly wasn't an option, but I did find a company selling a flying falcon bird deterrent. Descriptions of the plastic falcon claimed this 'life-like' predator would move in the wind to deter birds naturally without doing them any harm, so I thought I'd give it a go.

It wasn't expensive, arrived in days, and I eagerly opened the box. I attached a length of string between two posts across my garden and hung the flying falcon over my lawn to rock realistically in the wind, as if in flight.

Several pigeons had been feeding on the lawn earlier, so now we'd see if my flying falcon would keep them away. Back indoors, I made a cup of coffee, then sat and watched.

Within minutes the pigeons had returned, and brought their starling friends with them. I hope the picture above, taken through my window, clearly shows the feathered visitors, along with the circled plastic flying falcon only metres away.

Realistic deterrent? No, just a waste of money. The manufacturers claim that they deliver 'a promise to consumers of pest-free living', but I think I'll ask for a refund under the Trades Descriptions Act.

I've also seen a sitting falcon model that can be attached to buildings and structures, but can't see that this would be any more successful.

In the past I've read about people using rubber snakes to deter cats from borders. Would rubber snakes these keep pigeons away, perhaps? I really need help, so what's your solution for deterring pigeons?

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Talkback: Deterring pigeons
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oldchippy 08/07/2013 at 15:01

Adam there is no easy solution to Pigeons,but an air rifle sends them packing,but make sure you only fire at the pigeon's,even air rifle pellets bounce off there feathers.we have to blame the Romans for them being here. Oldchippy.

Dovefromabove 08/07/2013 at 19:59

We used to have several regular pigeon visitors to this garden - however, since a pair of Peregrine's hatched four eggs earlier this year, several of the woodpigeons have been 'taken by surprise' in a cloud of feathers and down.  There only appears to be one pair visiting us now, which is fine   They've spent the last few days in the top of the ashtrees pecking away at leaves. 

artjak 08/07/2013 at 20:15

I have stopped the pigeons eating the brassicas by putting bamboo canes every 30 cm around them, then going back and forth over the plants with very shiny silver gift tape from the pound shop.

Adam Pasco 08/07/2013 at 20:50

Thanks artjak. A reflective barrier is worth considering round crops, but won't look that sightly.
I did read that it's illegal to shoot pigeons unless you have the correct authority. Now I hear from oldchippy that their feathers are like body armour it doesn't sound as if shooting is even an option!
And Dovefromabove, please send your Peregrine's down my way ... there's plenty of food for them here!

BobTheGardener 08/07/2013 at 21:08

Decoy birds of prey can be placed on high points and are not expensive - Google pigeon scarer.  However, this is what I did which prevents caterpillar damage, too:

 4mm hole size netting provides the best protection.

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