Outdoor space is a premium asset (perhaps now more than ever before). When my wife and I moved into a new apartment with not one but two decks, I excitedly had visions of barbecues, alfresco dinners, and relaxing afternoons of intermittent reading and napping. Shortly after we moved in, however, we realized we weren’t the only ones with grand plans for our decks: Several families of pigeons had claimed them as their own, and it seemed like the only only meals that would happen on them would be feasts of regurgitated worms that the mother pigeons fed to their squabs. As we continued to awake to mournful coos and find more eggs in planters, we got the sense that our presence — no matter how loud or imposing it was — would not be enough to shoo the avian invaders away for good.
This was before the pandemic, so I hired an exterminator (shout out to Stan) to come over and help me with our feathered frenemies. Stan told me that pigeons are far smarter than we give them credit for and that fully ridding them from any areas they like often requires a multipronged solution. An opportunity to implement such a solution presented itself when I noticed that the group of baby pigeons living on our deck had all grown up and seemingly flown away. So, armed with Stan’s hard-won wisdom, I did some research and ultimately bought a few products that, when used together, rendered our decks completely free of wildlife. Read on for everything I used — along with a few other things I didn’t use but came highly recommended — to solve our pigeon problem.
Stuff I used to get rid of pigeons
Stan the exterminator may have said pigeons are smart, but they’re not that smart. He told me that even the appearance of a pigeon’s natural predators (like a hawk or an owl) is enough to keep the birds moving and indicate that your porch is not a safe space to raise a family. Another tip he shared: Move the fake bird twice a day (in the beginning) to maintain the illusion of sentience for the pigeons’ sake.
At first I bought just one fake hawk, but a gang of pigeons angrily attacked it. So I bought two more, and found that three of them placed at different points around my decks were sufficient to scare them off.
This tape is divisive, but it worked for me. Some commenters on pests.org (one of the resources I consulted in my research) say that the tape is only effective for a short period of time before it fades and is unnecessarily messy. Stan the exterminator swore by the stuff, though, saying its color and pattern-changing glow gives off a shine that functions as a warning signal — pigeons either see it as an inhospitable home or as the sign of a reptile predator. While I can’t say what our pigeons mistook the tape for, I can say that it worked; I hung it from the edges of our decks’ railings to maximize its movement. Bonuses of using this (for humans) include the calming noise of the paper rustling in the wind and the constant appearance of hosting some sort of party.