How to get rid of pigeons without hurting them

How to Get Rid of Pigeons (Without Hurting Them)

So, you need to get rid of pigeons. And you don’t want to hurt them.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to get rid of pigeons humanely
  • How to naturally repel pigeons
  • What you can to keep pigeons away for good
  • And more

By the end of this DIY pigeon control guide, you’ll have everything you need to eliminate, control, manage, and repel them. We’ll cover how to get rid of them around your yard, trees, attic, home, and even your barn.

And if you have any other questions, you can post a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Feel free to bookmark this page so you can easily come back to reference it.

Sound good? Let’s go pigeon-free.

Last updated: 9/9/20.

Pigeon identification

How to get rid of pigeons naturally.
Pigeons are considered a nuisance in many parts of the world. You’re not alone!

Pigeons are easy to recognize as they’re found all over the United States.

They’re known for their ability to drop a large number of feces and damage property and crops. And they’re known as an annoyance and even an invasive species around some parts of the US.

Fun fact: Pigeons are sometimes called “flying rats” or “rats with wings” because they’re speculated to be dirty, disease-ridden birds!

They’re generally blue-patterned with dark plumage. They usually have a blue, black, and grey coloration with little pigment. Pigeons have a recognizable “coo” and are often found in public areas where they pick up scraps from humans.

Pigeons have been coexisting with us for hundreds of years and are often found wherever humans are found.

Many industrial farmers and homeowners want to get rid of them because of the damage they can cause.

Some states have started programs to reduce or completely eliminate pigeon populations because of how bad they’ve gotten.

Other names commonly used for pigeons:

  • Rock dove
  • Feral pigeons
  • City doves
  • Street pigeons
  • City pigeons
  • Domestic pigeons

Why are there so many pigeons around my home?

Pigeons are everywhere.
Pigeons exist where we do.

Pigeons and humans have existed together for many decades now. As humans, we provide them with food, shelter, and water, so they tend to show up where we are.

Things like feeding them scraps, providing them with shelter (through your attic), and offering them water (birdbaths and ponds), they’re able to cohabitate with us.

If you live in an area where the population of pigeons is dense, this is likely because they’ve grown accustomed to humans as a source of food over the years.

Everything from backyard feeding to providing them roosting areas has told them that humans are “good.”

Thus, they’ll hang out around your garden, perch on your eaves, and even create nests in your attic. They’re everywhere we are.

Where do pigeons live?

Pigeons are pests.
Pigeons live all over the US. Getting rid of them can be difficult for people in populated areas.

Pigeons spend most of their day foraging and looking for food. At night, they hide in dense brush to protect themselves from predators. When they’re small, they’ll stay in their nest.

Many people think that they always return to their nest to sleep at night. This is simply false. They only use their nest when they’re still squabs (newborn pigeons). After they leave the nest, that’s it, until they start a new one to give birth.

Pigeons are present in all states across the US. Some of the most common states where pigeons are a pest include:

  • Arizona
  • New york
  • California

Other countries also attract many pigeons, such as Trafalgar Square in London, Piazza San Marco in Venice, and George Square in Glasgow.

They only need basic minimum requirements to sustain themselves. As long as there’s a source of food, water, and shelter they’ll be OK to live.

This is why you often find pigeons where humans are because we provide them with all 3 of these requirements. And thus, you commonly find them to become a nuisance over time as their population grows and expands.

Are pigeons bad?

Pigeon close up.
That depends.

Pigeons can damage your home with their acidic feces and urine. They can also extensively damage crops from feeding, defecating, and trampling over your sensitive veggies and fruits.

Over time, their feces will accumulate and can cause permanent damage to your home, roof, chimney, backyard, eaves, or other surfaces. This can minimize property value.

If you grow crops, pigeons can also damage them by constantly trampling through them in large flocks. They eat, feed, and damage your plants with their feet and flapping wings.

Sensitive plants can be ruined or disturbed by them constantly walking over them.

They may also defecate in them, which may spread disease and bacteria. This can harm organic farming, so they’ve been recognized as an invasive species for many farmers.

However, if you just have a few pigeons here and there and you’d like to get rid of them humanely, this DIY guide should prove to be useful.

Where do pigeons sleep?

As many people believe, pigeons don’t return to their nest to sleep. They actually find an area with a ton of dense foliage and then tuck themselves into rest.

Pigeons sleep in bushes, trees, and other plants where they can cover up and hide. This is why sometimes if you disturb a plant, you’ll see a pigeon fly out- seemingly out of nowhere. They’re usually found in dense trees with lots of leaves.

What do pigeons hate?

White pigeon.
Pigeons can be repelled naturally using these DIY remedies.

Pigeons hate a lot of things.

Spicy scents, loud noises, or shiny objects all help keep them away from your home and yard. If you stop them outdoors, they can’t come indoors, right?

So if you have pigeons in the home, stopping them from getting into your home would be the first step. If you just have them around your home, you can use the DIY methods outlined here to repel them.

We’ll cover some effective and proven methods that work against pigeons.

Let’s get started.

What smells do pigeons hate?

Pigeons hate anything that’s spicy or sour.

Both chili and vinegar are popular scents that will help keep them away. We’ll cover how to use vinegar and spices to control and manage pigeons in a later section.

How can I get rid of pigeons naturally?

Let’s start off with this video:


Here are some methods you can easily do at home to get rid of pigeons without hurting them.

These are humane and safe home remedies that won’t kill them. But rather, repel or scare them off by sights, sounds, and smells.

There are a lot of home remedies out there, but some of them harm or even kill the pigeon. The ones listed here will get rid of them harmlessly.

Sound good? Check out these DIY pigeon control methods you can do yourself!


Mothballs are a commonly suggested remedy that pigeons hate.

The problem with mothballs is that they’re harmful to humans over time. They release noxious chemicals that spread through the air.

Since the mothballs will be likely used outdoors, this isn’t as much of a problem for people and pets. But even outdoors, mothballs are harmful to the environment.

And the scent of it can be harmful to pigeons and other creatures. Thus, I’d suggest avoiding mothballs for pigeon control.

Mothballs should never be used in your home because they release toxic fumes over time. And when you use them outside, don’t place them somewhere that traps the air flow.

Always use as directed. Read the label. Some people say they’re effective, but there are other ways that don’t rely on poisonous compounds.

Use string

You can tie a piece of weatherproof string to disrupt the pigeon’s balance. If the bird can’t achieve balance, then it won’t be able to roost.

This is a cheaper ant-roosting measure if you don’t want to use spike strips. You can buy a weatherproof string for cheap. Tie it across areas to prevent them from roosting and perching. The string is “in the way” and disrupts their balance.

You can tie it from one end to the other, such as across gutters, rooftops, and even trees. As long as the string is there, it’ll prevent them from being able to roost.

Tie it about 2” above the perching area. Think of it as you’re trying to “trip” the pigeon with the string. This will help prevent them from roosting and is completely safe. It’ll naturally deter them without harming them.

This is a home remedy that actually works. And it’s humane.

You can use cheap yarn you find at the discount aisle at any department store. The thinner it is, the more it freaks them out. Fishing line works amazingly for scaring them.

Spiked landing strips

Yes, I know the name sounds painful. But this is one of the best ways you can actually control and prevent pigeons permanently.

The “spikes” on the landing strips don’t actually hurt the bird. They really just make their perch uneven and slanted, so that it’s a lot more difficult for the bird to land on it. It also helps repel them from making a nest to lay eggs.

You can buy spiked strips from your local hardware store and they’re very easy to install. Some use adhesives while others use nails, depending on the surface you want to install it on.

Some of the most common areas where pigeons perch are:

  • Roof gutters
  • Rooftops
  • Chimneys
  • Patio awnings
  • Fences
  • Treetops
  • Tree branches
  • Ledges
  • Edges

Spiked landing strips come in many lengths and you can easily find the one you need online. Apply the strip as directed.

They should help control the pigeons from landing and perching in specific areas. This doesn’t hurt them, but rather discourages them from landing on the strip. The surfaces that they would usually perch on becomes uneven and difficult for them to land on.

This will stop them from congregating around your home,  and also stop them from building nests. This is useful to get rid of them for good and control the population of pigeons around your yard.

Replace your sheathing

For those who have pigeons perching on your sheath or gutter, you can use slanted or sloped shearling. Since the bird can’t balance on the sloped perch, they won’t be attracted to it and will stay away.

Some products exist just for this purpose specifically. They form a 50-degree slope that keeps the birds off permanently. Without a balanced perch, they can’t roost. You can apply this to sheaths, eaves, ledges, windowsills, rooftops, or drains.

Or anywhere else you have pigeon problems. This is a safe, natural, and effective technique to get rid of pigeons without hurting them. No perch means no pigeons!

And it’s relatively cheap. Once you set it up once, you never have to worry about pigeons ever again. The only work that’s required is setting the whole thing up.

Using rice

Rice has been rumored to get rid of pigeons because it expands in their stomach and kills them. Please do NOT do this.

This is harmful to pigeons and something you should avoid. The myth is that rice makes pigeons explode. Thus, people started sprinkling plain rice all over their yard, trees, rooftops, and anywhere else.

This is a lot of work and rice is very hard to clean up afterward.

Besides, the myth of this technique hasn’t actually been proven to work consistently. Reports say that they simply regurgitate the rice from their stomachs without harm.

Regardless, you shouldn’t be using rice for pigeon control as this can harm them. Stay away from this method.

What spices get rid of pigeons?

Spices can be an effective, natural remedy for keeping them out because they hate the scent.

There are spices that repel pigeons naturally. The best part about this method is that it’s safe for pigeons, humans, and pets

Pets like dogs and cats tend to avoid spices. And kids will probably stay away from them too. Spices are also very cheap and you buy a bottle of common spices for cheap.

The most effective spices I found to work are the following:

  • Black pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Ghost pepper
  • Jalapeno powder

All of these seem to work pretty well as a pigeon deterrent. Just buy a bottle and sprinkle wherever you see pigeons hanging out.

Because of the strong scent, the spices keep them from perching or feeding within the area where you use the powder.

The trick is to use a lot where you see the pigeons hanging out, or where you suspect there to be pigeon activity. You can apply the spices in large amounts without fear of overdoing it.

The spices will also naturally dissipate outdoors. So it’s not harmful to the environment for the most part.

Some plants that are sensitive to spices may be harmed though. So be sure the wind doesn’t blow it around and directly onto your plants.

After it rains or after heavy winds, you’ll need to re-apply the spices once again. But that shouldn’t be too bad considering that they’re super cheap and are an inexpensive way to control pigeons humanely.

Use garlic or onions

Similar to the spices method above, you can use whole garlic or onion to naturally keep pigeons away from your home or garden.

All you need is a whole onion minced or garlic cut into smaller bits. Then just scatter the pieces around your yard, roof, home, patio, or wherever you see the pigeons.

Of course, you’ll have to replace the onion or garlic whenever they don’t smell anymore. You can expect one application to last about 7 days before needing to be replaced. Onions and garlic are cheap and you can buy them in bulk.

So this is a very cost-effective method you can use to get rid of pigeons. And it’s humane since it doesn’t hurt them.

Use motion-activated sprinklers

If there’s anything that pigeons hate, it’s water. Using sprinklers can help deter them from entering your yard or patio.

There are two ways to go about this:

  • If you notice pigeons perching during “peak” hours around your home, set your sprinklers to automatically water during those hours.
  • If you think pigeons randomly show up throughout the day, use motion-activated sprinklers.

To save water and manual work, you can buy and install some motion-detector sprinklers.

These will basically spray when they detect movement. They’re not really made for watering plants. But rather, for repelling pests like pigeons, coyotes, possums, and moles.

You can easily hook them up to your hose outlet and position them strategically around your yard. Buy the ones with a wide range and a “cone” pattern, rather than  “jet” so it covers more area.

Place them like watchtowers around your yard. When a pigeon lands in the area, they’ll automatically spray water and drive the pigeon away. They absolutely hate this and it works well against most types of avian pests.

For those that only have one house outlet, you can buy a hose splitter to split up that single outlet to multiple. This way, you can power multiple sprinklers with just a single outlet.

How to get rid of pigeons from trees

Pigeon in tree.
Pigeons sleep in trees and often hide in them.

To control pigeons that take shelter in your trees, you’ll have to apply the same approaches above. The situation is no different.

For tree protection, there are a few different techniques you can do:

  • Use bird netting over the entire tree for 100% protection
  • Use weatherproof starting on branches (for smaller trees) – see method above
  • Apply vinegar sprays on branches
  • Prune and trim unnecessary foliage
  • Set up pigeon decoys
  • Use foil balloons, aluminum foil, or reflective tape

Any of these should help stop pigeons from staying in your trees and repel them.

Each situation is different, so you’ll have to experiment and see which one works best for you. If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

How to get rid of pigeons in the barn

Pigeon on rooftop of a barn.
Pigeons are often found in barns because it’s a perfect source of food and shelter.

If you have pigeons in your barn, you can easily control them using a few different methods. Since pigeons do cohabitate with humans, barns are a common infestation area.

Barns protect them from the outdoors, predators, and there’s often a source of food. They may be eating the grains or feed you use to feed your livestock.

And since barns typically have high ceilings, they have lots of areas to establish a pigeon nest for their squabs.

To get rid of pigeons in your barn, you’ll want to use a variety of techniques. If they have already built a nest, you can let the current generation grow up and leave the area.

But prevent future ones from coming back in by doing the following:

  • Secure the barn to prevent entry (seal up vents, apply caulk, block gaps)
  • Always close the barn doors after you’re done
  • Use bird netting or mesh over grates
  • Set up decoys near the entrances
  • Place shiny balloons, foil, or reflective tape around nesting sites
  • Always secure or dispose of excess food in the barn
  • Attract natural pigeon predators to the barn
  • Using a combination of these should help you get rid of pigeons in the barn and prevent future ones from showing up.

How to get rid of pigeons with sound

Pigeon on rooftop.
Pigeons hate loud noises and this can be used to keep them away from your home.

There are some ultrasonic bird repellers you can buy that are advertised to scare them off.

While I’ve never actually tried any of these, I’ve heard reports from others that they’re hit-or-miss. The reason why I don’t really care for these is that there’s not enough evidence that they actually work.

And they emit sounds at a frequency humans can’t hear, so you don’t know if they’re actually working.

Sure, it’s probably nice to not have to listen to annoying sounds all day. But at the same time, does it really work?

If you really want to scare pigeons (for free), you can make noises yourself. That’s a lot more effective. You can use anything from a loudspeaker, coins in a can, pots and pans, or even a child’s drum kit to accomplish this. Of course, this requires manual labor.

There are motion-activated sound machines you buy. Perhaps this will tickle your fancy?

What will scare pigeons away?

Pigeon in a water puddle.
You can scare pigeons using shiny objects.

There are a few things you can do to scare pigeons away. They’re mainly afraid of shiny objects and moving decoys.

Both of these are readily available at your local store if you want to buy a premade one.

Otherwise, you can use random objects you have at home to accomplish the same effect.

Here are some DIY remedies you can use.


Aluminum foil is a shiny object that will reflect sunlight to scare pigeons. Just place the foil where the pigeons tend to roost.

Don’t fold the foil. Keep it as a flat sheet so the natural air currents make it “move.” This will scare the pigeons. You can tape it or nail it to surfaces as a “flag” also.

Reflective tape

Another common choice that you can buy at any hardware store. This stuff is made for scaring off birds. Use it as directed.

Foil balloons

You can buy these in bulk at dollar stores. Just fill them up with air. You can use helium, but even just regular air will work because the air currents will make the move.

The sunlight revealing off the balloon will scare pigeons off. This is a humane and safe way to keep pigeons away without having to hurt them. The bright reflection also disrupts their eyesight so they leave.

Use CDs

You can also use old CDs or buy a pack of them for cheap. Attach them to a string and hang them around trees, your roof, and your yard.

They’ll slowly rotate in the air and scare off pigeons. Cheap and effective. And they’re one of the best pigeon deterrents you can make at home.

Add pigeon decoys

You can buy a fake decoy of a natural pigeon predator, such as hawks or owls around your yard.

Place them where pigeons perch and use them strategically. Some move while others are stationary.

You can try using a few different decoys and see which one works best for your situation. Note that over time, the birds will get used to the same decoy. So you’ll want to move it around your yard.

Will vinegar keep pigeons away?

A sleeping pigeon on a fountain.
Vinegar can be a decent DIY home remedy.

Yes, vinegar can help keep pigeons away. It’s a safe way to repel them without having to harm them.

You’ll have to make a DIY spray to do this. Applying vinegar by itself isn’t as effective as combining it with other liquids. This is an easy and effective homemade pigeon repellent.

Here’s how to make a vinegar spray for pigeons.

What you’ll need:

  • Spray bottle
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1 gallon of water
  • Large container
  • Chili powder (8 ounces)

How to make it:

  1. Add the vinegar into the gallon of water using a large container.
  2. Add chili powder to the mixture.
  3. Stir gently until the powder is dissolved. You can add more powder to make the mixture stronger.
  4. You can also cap the container and shake until the mixture evens out. Mix until you don’t see any more powder after mixing the solution.

How to use it:

  • Pour some of it into a spray bottle.
  • Spray the mixture where you want to repel pigeons.
  • Spray it directly onto plants, perches, eaves, or anywhere else the birds land.
  • Re-apply every other day, or when the liquid evaporates due to the sun.
  • Re-apply after rains.
  • This mixture is safe for most plants.

How do you keep pigeons away from your house?

Pigeon drinking from fountain.
You can repel pigeons from your home by using some cheap, easy techniques.

The best way to keep pigeons away from your home is to do the following.

Reduce pigeon attractants

This means doing things that keep your yard clean and tidy. You’ll want to remove excess food, water, and foliage that’s no needed.

  • Remove any excess food from livestock, pets, or birdfeeders
  • Clean up any leaf litter
  • Prune your overgrown trees
  • Drain or secure birdbaths, water fountains, ponds, and other water features
  • Remove excess plant litter to prevent nesting
  • Secure trash bins
  • Keep your trees and shrubs tidy

Secure your home

These tips will help prevent pigeons from flying around your yard and defecating all over the place.

For those who have problems with pigeons entering their homes, such as their attic or basement, the key is the same. You’ll want to secure and prevent entryways for pigeons from getting into your home.

Use mesh

You can buy and use mesh to protect most of your home from birds. Mesh is easy to look at and you can drape it over almost anything.

You can buy it and apply it to any object you want to keep birds away from. This means things like your AC unit, roof shingles, ledges, eaves, and awnings.

This will prevent the pigeons from entering the area, which means it’s basically 100% guaranteed to get rid of them. It’s also safe and humane. If the birds can’t get in, they can’t become a problem. Just be sure that you’re using the mesh correctly.

When bird netting or mesh is used wrongly, it can end up hurting the pigeon and causing environmental damage.

You need to use it as a curtain and secure all the edges of the mesh to hard surfaces. Don’t use it over flammable or other dangerous objects.

Preventing pigeons from roosting in the attic

Many homeowners state that they have pigeon problems in the attic, which makes sense.

The attic is often uninhabited for most people and is a sheltered, dry area for pigeons to roost. To keep pigeons out of your home, seal up your attic.

This means doing the following:

  • Fill gaps around your attic shingles or siding
  • Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal up small holes
  • Repair or replace attic windows, screens, or vents
  • Use hardware cloth to replace larger gaps
  • Add spiked landing strips where the pigeons roost
  • Prune trees, branches, or other foliage near your attic
  • Use bird netting to completely prevent entry

Pigeons on the chimneys

Chimneys are another prime target of pigeons. They’re often found roosting and perched on chimneys as they coo, poop, and do their business.

Be sure to cap your chimney off using mesh steel that’s waterproof and fireproof. This will prevent birds from landing on your chimneys such as pigeons, crows, and hawks.

And smoke can still escape. Don’t use any material that’s not made specifically for chimneys, as they can be a fire hazard.

Did you get rid of the pigeons with no harm done?

A pigeon perched on a home.
Be patient and persistent!

That’s all I have for you.

With these techniques, you should be able to control and eliminate the pigeons around your home, barn, attic, or garden without harming them.

Most of them are very affordable and cheap to implement, so you don’t need to spend a ton just to get rid of them. You can also try a few of them out and see which one works.

Remember: Not all of them work for everyone.

Each situation is unique. And you need to try a few out until you find the working one.

If you have any other questions, leave a reply below.

Or if you found this guide to be helpful, let me know also =]!

Considering telling a friend. If you have pigeon problems, they may have the exact same problem!

Thanks for reading!

7 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Pigeons (Without Hurting Them)”

  1. Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

  2. The red tailed hawk sound on youtube worked well for me. Normally scares the male away. Sprays work temporarily. The pigeons we have here are very stubborn. They just come back after a while.

  3. Gerri Paulon

    Thanks for the great article. However, I live in a large building next to a forest preserve and I get a lot of pigeons landing on my balcony. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get rid of them without scaring off all the other birds that I feed and enjoy?

  4. Thanks for mentioning that you can help stop pigeons from nesting on your property by setting up decoys and putting shiny things around nesting sites. My husband noticed the other day that we keep getting pigeons nesting on our roof, and they aren’t very good for our garden. I think it would be best for us to call an animal removal company that can come and take them away so we can stop worrying about it, and then we can set up those things to stop them from coming back.

  5. I recently saw an email that touted how smart pigeons are they said that even if you take them big distances after capturing in a cage, then letting them go, that they will be back before the person who took them will be back. And the show says that pigeons can lay 2 eggs every thirty days so that is why there are so many.

  6. Alice Carroll

    Thanks for the reminder that fixing the gaps on my shingles can help in discouraging pigeons from making nests up there. I’d like to look for pigeon control services soon because there has been a surge in the population of pigeons in my local area lately. Some of them have been terrorizing the plants in my garden so I think that’s a good enough reason to try to get rid of them.

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