How to Keep Pigeons Away?
August 22, 2006 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Pigeons begone! How do I keep pigeons off my ledge?

My window sill is deep and pigeons like to sit and poop on it. I would like them not to. How do I discourage them? Best option is something I have at home (like beer for slugs), second best is something chemical (but safe for me). I'd like to leave spikes as a last resort, because they are ugly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I had this problem with my window. We tried three soutions and with the combination we have no more pigeons. First, we put a plastic owl on the ledge. It has to be moved every few weeks or the pigeons catch on that it is a fake. Next, we knocked on the window whenever we saw a pigeon there. They hated to be disturbed and they seemed to catch on over time that our window would not be a peaceful place to rest. However, you have to give them time to learn this. Lastly, we have a giant plastic Virgin Mary that we position as looking out of the window whenever we leave town for a few days. The pigeons do not enjoy resting in her gaze.
posted by Alison at 7:06 AM on August 22, 2006

I'm not sure if this will suit your windowsill, but at one of the train stations near me, they applied some sort of grease (a petroleum-jelly type thing, I think) to all the beams where the pigeons would perch and shit. Basically, the birds don't like or aren't very good at sitting on the greased-up surface, and they were forced to find somewhere else to hang out.
posted by bunglin jones at 7:07 AM on August 22, 2006

Put some plastic owls up there and/or they also sell a giant inflatable owl head for bird control.
posted by mikepop at 7:08 AM on August 22, 2006

Could a windowbox (example) be utilised? I had a similar issue in a previous flat and took the opportunity to create a very pleasant herb garden in a heavy, stone planter about 6 inches high, 6 or 8 inches deep and about 30 inches wide. Apart from the obvious easy access to herbs, it had the additional benefits of not giving the pigeons anywhere to sit and scented the breeze very nicely on warm days / evenings.
posted by mooders at 7:13 AM on August 22, 2006

You can run a wire a few inches above the sill running parallel along the length of the sill. This might prevent them from landing there. (they do this on docks) Or make something like this
posted by comatose at 7:14 AM on August 22, 2006

Get a thin strip of wood the same size as the ledge. Pound a bunch of nails through it, spaced close enough together so a pidgeon can't perch between them. Turn the board over and place it, nails up, on the ledge.
posted by bondcliff at 7:15 AM on August 22, 2006

I think you can buy a fake plastic owl to perch inside or outside the window sill and the pigeons will stay away. Hardware and outdoor shops should have for a ten spot.You might need to reposition it every now and then because the pigeons will get wise to a non moving doll.
posted by stavx at 7:16 AM on August 22, 2006

oops , my bad owl thing already mentioned.....
posted by stavx at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2006

I've got the same problem with the ledge of my 23rd-floor balcony and have taken a multi-pronged approach. I work from home and am looking out the window to the balcony most of the day, so I've had some time to see what works.

First, I cleaned all the poop off the ledge. This was helpful because I'm now more inspired to keep it clean and will agitate any pigeons that do land, instead of sitting and looking at them while reading metafilter. Also, it did seem to help slightly; the pigeons are slightly less like to hang out and poop on the clean ledge than when I let it go.

Then, I printed out an owl (self-link) and stuck it on some cardboard. I moved this around in the window every day. This had a slightly positive effect, but really didn't seem to do much.

My wife's cousins had a plastic own in their basement that they sent up our way. This worked better than the printout, although we still got some visitors. I'm pretty sure that at some point a pigeon will land directly on the owl; I hope I have my camera ready then.

Sometimes I hang the owl upside down from a hook mounted in the balcony ceiling. This has the advantage of letting the owl sway in the wind and seems to deter the occasional pigeon.

Even with the owl and the clean ledge I will get a few of the sky-rats. So last week I placed a poland springs bottle full of water by the door to the balcony. Whenever a bird lands I go after it with the spray. I got a few birds at first, but now they fly away as soon as I set into motion from within the apartment, so they are catching on.

I still have to clean the ledge once or twice a week, but it's now just one or two poopstains instead of 10 or 20. The plastic owl helped a little, but I think keeping the ledge poop-free and spraying at pigeons that do land are the most effective approaches.
posted by sohcahtoa at 7:45 AM on August 22, 2006

I wonder if double-sided tape would deter them? Certainly would be less obtrusive than one of those silly plastic owls.
posted by Scram at 7:53 AM on August 22, 2006

Response by poster: Psst, this was posted for a friend. Not me. My apartment has no windows.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:57 AM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Anti Perching Pigeon Spikes (scroll down.) As you can see replicating something like that with household materials is not impossible. Failing that, nails through a plank of wood as suggested above would work.
posted by fire&wings at 8:19 AM on August 22, 2006

We have a seagull problem where we are, putting wires up does work to keep them off anywhere they might roost, and with a window ledge that might be the most effective answer. This also seems to work with spikes. The owl thing I'm unconvinced by, urban birds are pretty sharp to whether stuff poses a threat or not.
Personally I'd be up for killing them but I suspect Alison or sohcahtoa's training them to stay away might work better as I think dead ones would just get their niche filled by not dead ones who aren't aware they have something to fear. Plus it's a crime with a £400 fine where I live. Having said that, if the one that flew through my lounge in to my kitchen and shat on the floor comes back then its chances of leaving in one piece will be slim.
posted by biffa at 8:19 AM on August 22, 2006

I'm really amazed that two people mentioned pigeon spikes after you already said you didn't want to use them. Doesn't anyone read the entire question?

I've had good luck with the plastic owl method - also ugly but kind of fun to move it around and see them spook again when they approach.
posted by agregoli at 8:49 AM on August 22, 2006

I'm really amazed that two people mentioned pigeon spikes after you already said you didn't want to use them. Doesn't anyone read the entire question?

Crap, my bad. It always pisses me off when people do that to me. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by bondcliff at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2006

There is a product called Bird-X gel. It seems to work quite well.
posted by Julnyes at 9:13 AM on August 22, 2006

On the owl topic, I am pretty sure I have seen plastic owls who have moving heads. This apparently helps with the realism, although I have no personal knowledge.
posted by MrZero at 9:37 AM on August 22, 2006

I had a pigeon problem for most of the year and have found that a small water pistol (I got mine at a dollar store) works perfectly! At first I launched ice cubes at them (from a previous MeFi question) but the pistol idea works way better. The spray isn't strong enough to hurt them, just scares them away. I haven't seen any pigeons on my balcony railing for more than 3 weeks now. Good luck!
posted by BubbleWrap at 9:38 AM on August 22, 2006

You could always go high tech and high cost and just invest in a few lasers.
posted by Ateo Fiel at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2006

I second fire&wings' anti perching pigeon spikes. (see above). We've had this problem too; i saw these spikes on a friends window. They seem to work 100% of the time, and with no maintenance (no need to move the owl head around or regrease the window or do any other manual maintenance). They're a permanent and complete solution, and they work!
posted by jak68 at 9:51 AM on August 22, 2006

Yes, but they are ugly. As the poster clearly states.
posted by dame at 9:56 AM on August 22, 2006

If you don't like owls...
I suggest using a fake head (the kind hair dressers use.) It works for my hair dressing neighbor. You would still have to move it every couple of days though.
posted by Shrike at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2006

how about a flower pot with cactuses?
posted by jak68 at 11:51 AM on August 23, 2006

My mother had this problem (many years ago) in an apartment --she was told to put cinnamon on the ledge where the pigeons perched. Apparently it irritates their feet; but you have to apply it fairly frequently and after any kind of rain.

Having a friend with a pigeon roost for a fire escape-balcony thing made me think that you could either mix cinnamon (like from those 1 lb plastic containers at the grocery) with egg whites, for better adhesion, and glop the resulting mixture on with a paintbrush. It would still probably be water soluble, but slightly more durable. YMMV.

Better yet, find some scotch bonnet pepper sauce, or best yet, find capsaicin crystals from a chemical supply place, and mix them with egg whites. (Resist the temptation to fill a salt shaker with capsaicin.) (And don't let the mixture touch your hands.)
posted by Lycaste at 7:47 PM on August 24, 2006

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