How do I reclaim my balcony from the pigeons?

September 8 | diezyn
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How do I keep pigeons off my apartment balcony?
Look at this blatant disregard for my plastic owl's authority.
Homies, I need your help: pigeons won't leave my 12th-floor balcony alone. After putting up with two rounds of pigeon babies being born and raised because I had a heart or something, enough is enough. My cat chirps at them, and if they see her, they fly away — but then they come right back. I bought a plastic owl with a rotating head, but unless I move it around the balcony every day, they get wise to it and ignore it. Am I doomed to this owl-repositioning fate forever?

What are your tips for keeping pigeons off your property?

Help! There's so much poop! -Caroline

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  1. I had a pigeon problem at my last apartment. I would get rid of the nests as soon as the pigeons would build them but then they would just build another. It was a constant battle. I asked the building management company what could be done. Their recommendation was that I keep nothing on my balcony because chairs and tables provided shelter for the pigeons. I knew that wasn't going to be a useful solution since the birds first tried to nest on my balcony when it was empty first thing in the spring. Plus I paid a premium to have a balcony and I was going to use it.

    I ended up installing bird netting around my balcony. It worked great. After it was put up they would test it and try to get in. Eventually they stopped testing it, though sometimes pigeons would fly at the balcony and then realize there was netting and veer off.

    5 agree
    • How did they attempt to get in, and how capable are pigeons to somehow get threw netting?
      I have netting up that meets the ceiling of the balcony as I can't get up there to actually secure it.
      It is stretched firmly across. Do you think I'll still have trouble with them?
      There are no gapps, so I can't see how they could get in, but I don't know if they have 'something up their sleeve' to find a way?
      Thank you!

  2. I've heard that you can use hot spices such as cayenne pepper, cinnamon and curry powder to deter pigeons. They have to be sprinkled in quite generous amounts and topped up after rain and wouldn't be any use if your balcony is particularly prone to gusts of wind. My mother used this method and seemed to think it had some success in keeping them away.

    • I tried this too actually, and it seemed to work for a bit, but they eventually blew off and the pigeons came back. I didn't like the idea of using so much spice (it's a pretty big railing) all the time, and it made a mess ๐Ÿ™

  3. Pinwheels… try a few dollar store kids pinwheels tied to the railing (or any other spinning type ind ornament). My father had them along his rear fence and dock and it's been the only thing to keep the geese away.

    6 agree
    • I use a happy, metallic rainbow-y dollar store sun catcher/mobile as a bird scarer. Amusingly, the central motif is a bird. It makes absolutely psychedelic patterns in both itself and its shadow. My balcony stays blissfully clean of bird poop now (but I keep a separate, dollar store broom for balcony sweeping so I don't accidentally bring bird poop germs into my house).

      3 agree
  4. I know it's not pretty, but maybe hanging CDs with thread or twine would help (at least with sparrows it does). They rotate with the breeze and reflect light, which seems to keep them away.

    4 agree
    • I tried this, albeit from a hook in the wall and not the "ceiling" and they didn't seem to care. If it was hanging form the ceiling it might flutter better, but I'd have to get a heavy-duty drill to install it into the concrete.

    • Here in Minneapolis the pigeons just sit right on the spikes… the only thing I've heard working is drugged food that essentially makes them drunk, and then they don't want to come back because they remember the bad food. That's what the pest control agency hired by both my work and apartment building does. I don't know how I feel about that ethically though.

      2 agree
  5. Any way you can make your patio into a catio? My friends put up some removable wiring to enclose their patio so their cat could go outside for fresh air. I'm guessing with the presence of the cat they'll leave.

    16 agree
  6. I feel your pain…I thought it was cute to have a family raised on my balcony a few years back….but hoo boy…did they ever make a disgusting pile of bird crap the likes of which I had never seen before. So gross.
    I'd ask about the netting for sure.

  7. Does anyone know if pigeons fear predator urine? I don't know if it's the most ideal solution, but it's something I've wondered in general.

    2 agree
    • We have a 4.5m scrub python that lives in the roof, her shedded skins tend to keep the birds away. You could try that, cause you do NOT want to have to use python pee. It seriously stinks, especially when it seeps through the ceiling…

      1 agrees
      • And for folks in the US, my Other Half and I usually have an abundance of snake skins from our reptile 'employees' so I can always toss a nice corn snake skin in the mail to the states where it's legal. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Fucking pigeons are the worst. I suggest concertina wire around the ledge and motion-sensitive laser guns. I know, I know — you thought I was going to say "motion-sensitive spear guns" but really those are very messy and inaccurate.

    Ok seriously : put something triangular on the ledge. Not something sharp to hurt you (or the pigeons) but pointy so they can't land. Like the top of a wrought iron fence.

    2 agree
  9. The museum that I volunteer at, as well as several other historical buildings in our downtown, use a loudspeaker sort of machine that plays various hawk calls. It is set up on a random loop, to play different calls at different times, because if the recorded calls are too loud or just the same call repeated over and over again the pigeons are smart enough to figure out the trick. The downside is, it sounds kind of annoying and it might bug your neighbors, but it is a humane way to prevent pigeons. Otherwise, I really recommend bird netting. It works for anyone I know who uses it.

    3 agree
  10. I spray a rag with WD-40 and then sprinkle it with cinnamon, I then smear the disgusting concoction on the railings. You have to redo it every once in a while but it helps. The WD40 makes them slip (if you have more rounded railings like I do) and the cinnamon irritates their feet so they don't want to stand on it. This doesn't stop them from hanging out on the deck part, but I work at home and knock on the window to scare them away. Some people have had good luck with squirt guns.

  11. What about a motion activated sprinkler of some sort? Nobody likes a wet nest.

    2 agree
  12. We had pigeons nesting on our windowsill… I got one of those large rubber garden snakes and moved it around the windowsill everyday for a couple weeks. Pigeons hate hawks and snakes but if they realize it's fake they'll come back. So you gotta move the stuff around until they get used to going somewhere else. We've been in this apartment for 4 years and and after a month or so of the snake trick they went away and haven't really been back…. also they don't like loud noises so you could just throw a pillow at the window or something for a while…. that also helped I'm sure. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    3 agree
  13. bug netting? I have a purple netting … one of those bed canopy things which lives not over my bed but in the doorway off our lounge into our bedroom (because I hate to close doors). Could you rig up curtain tracks somehow, or just hook one up? I'm picturing a goth carnival tent themed balcony …

    3 agree
  14. I've heard a plastic snake on the balcony can help, but if they get wise to the owl, the snake may not be much better. The upside is they are cheap as balls.

    1 agrees
  15. There's a motion-activated "cat deterrant" on the market called the Sssscat! designed to keep house cats off of the stove, etc. It's really just a motion sensor on a can of compressed air, but it hisses and blows air any time it's tripped. Might help?

    2 agree
  16. HELP ME!

    I live in Rome and the pigeons here are absolutely terrible. We have had a huge problem with a couple of pigeons raising their two babies outside our bedroom (our bedroom window looks out over a small courtyard, and the pigeons like to live on our bathroom roof which has about a 2 foot space between the roof and the floor above us). There is no way to get to the bathroom roof to put any kind of WD40, spikes, any kind of repellent, and no way to take their nests away. I am LITERALLY going out of my mind being woken at 6 AM, even through earplugs and my boyfriends incessant snoring, nothing drowns out the dumb sound of these rats with wings COOO COO COOO and the SWISH FLAP FLAP of their stupid wings. Not to mention when the babies are growing up they chirp and scratch around which echoes on the metal roof of the bathroom into our whole house. (Oh yes, did I mention, we had the two parents and babies, and now they told their friends and we have a party of 4 living by us). I bought a cheap slingshot on Ebay a few weeks ago and the rubber bands are already breaking I have used it on them so much (a box of small pasta as ammo costs about a dollar, and the satisfaction of the pasta shattering on the wall is wonderful for me) Unfortunately, it does not last long. They fly away and come back. Since 6 this morning (it is now 4 PM here in Rome) I have been in a constant battle with them – when I hear their stupid sounds every 10 minutes I push open the window with loud noises and gusto, and they fly away. Of course, they come back, because, despite their stupid small heads and beady red eyes, the darn birds have good memories and like to live where they live.
    Anways, enough of my rant. If anyone can help me, please do.
    I see mixed reviews about cayenne pepper and other spices (some say it helps the babies grow!).
    Do mothballs work? I am about to spend 20 dollars to order a pack from UK Amazon.
    Also. I am not against poisoning these bastards. What works best? (Yes, I know, don't attack me, I have never killed a thing, I am a vegetarian, but I need my sleep and peace of mind). Plus, I live in a country where you can basically do anything and no one will notice or care, so I doubt it is illegal.
    Rat poison? Bread soaked in antifreeze? What works best?

    Please help, before I jump in the river. Thank you.

    1 agrees
    • They're nested and it's going to be next to impossible to encourage them to relocate. You can trap them, relocate them and destroy the nest, but guess what? They're Pigeons, they'll find their way back.

      At some point you have to defend the quality of your life, and the fact that they are damaging your home. It's only going to get worse.

      Get a good slingshot (Barnett Black Widow, about $10), use steel shot, 3/8" will work. Don't mess around, one hard hit and they're gone forever. Preferably a head shot, but a body shot will work.

      • So it's been over a year with my battle with the fuckers…
        Let me tell you a story!
        About 2 weeks ago, one of the pigeons was sitting a bit below my window in the courtyard. Perfect shot I thought, so I took out my slingshot and LITERALLY hit it in the body and head 5 times, but it didn't move!!!!! These things are indestructible!! Now I peeked into their nest and they have 3 new eggs. Unfortunately I can't reach them (I put a step stool on top of our ottoman and wore my 4 inch heels, but still could not reach the nest) so tomorrow I will get my boyfriends ladder and throw those eggs out the window.
        Still, no one has answered how to poison them!! Please tell me!! Is antifreeze the only thing that works/easily accessible? Oh, also, I sprayed these pigeons IN THE FACE with fing ACID and they still didn't budge. Help.

  17. I'm desperate for an answer to this too! We have a house on the lake with a third floor balcony with an incredible view of the lake. I don't want to put a net up because it will ruin the view.

    The house across the street is a freaking pigeon sanctuary. Literally. Thousands of them are fed by my neighbor and they are a protected wildlife refuge. There were no problems at all until this year, and now my nice patio furniture and deck floor and railings are all COVERED IN PIGEON POOP. They don't care about the shiny tape we've put up all over the place, they just ignore it. They're really used to people (since they're essentially pets of my neighbor) and our neighbor has basically gone "yeah IDK they're not afraid of people sorry they're bugging you". We rent out our house on AirBnb and we get complaints because there is so much poop on the balcony (the lakeview balcony is a big selling point of the house) AND we can't enjoy being out there!

    PLEASE HELP! If anyone is still reading this post after all these years.

    • Pepper spray/mase

      Do everything you can to clear Remove the nest and use hottest ground spices you can find and add something so it doesn't blow off. Another option use the ultrasonic sound deterants in combination with clearing nest etc. Final option is use anti freeze and poison them you Can google and find a few different ways to poison them. Just need to be sure the dead birds are disposed or will decompose and smell

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