Pigeons are like big, flying rats. Thats what I read about about them somewhere and couldn’t agree more. I have always wondered why in pest control we limit ourselves to getting rid of rats, ants, cockroaches, mites, bugs, etc. What about pigeons?? Aren’t they equivalent to any other pests that bother us? Do we realize that they are equally capable of spreading diseases? Their faeces is known to contain bacteria and fungus which could cause lung infection and fatal fungal diseases. Pigeon droppings are dangerous. Cleaning it is also another big job that leaves us frustrated. Firstly, no house help will agree to do it and even if she does she will charge you an extra fee for it. You feel the helplessness as you fight the pigeons and lose – every single time.
Several people in our apartment have covered their balconies using pigeon nets. We plan to do the same for our master bedroom balcony. However, we were posed with a bigger challenge. Something we did not perceive as a threat when we booked the apartment. We thought our 150 sq feet terrace would be a perfect place to have our morning cup of tea or hot pakodas when it rains in the evening. I loved the view from our terrace and the big, green tree in front of it. Within a few weeks of shifting into our new house those dreams went out the window. I found out that the ugly, pooping pigeons actually owned my terrace and I couldn’t dare venture into their territory. They perched on the tree in front of the terrace and flew back and forth when they wanted to eat my plants or drink water. There were times when I was so distressed. Particularly when I went out of town and returned to a whole lot of pigeon poop. At the end of a trip I had to unpack, shop for vegetables, set up the house and clean pigeon droppings!! All my maids refused to clean up after them. I could not insist.
I hated the idea of drying or picking up clothes from the terrace. Simply because I would invariable stamp on pigeon poop and limp back into the bathroom to wash my feet. The house just felt so dirty. One fine day they crossed the line. Bold pigeons started walking into my drawing room and doing their jobs there!! More pain, more frustration. We tried every trick possible but they would out smart us. Firstly, we installed some shiny CDs and they were ok with it. Next, we covered their favorite areas with aluminium foil papers and they didn’t care about that either. We then tied threads and created a mesh in their seating areas. That worked great but could not stand the test of time as our structure was not weather-proof. I wanted to run away to another home because I felt like I had lost an age-old fight against the pigeons (of all things!).
Having a terrace with a double-height ceiling rules out the option of getting it covered with a pigeon net. We will need to actually hang great meters of well-stitched cloth which will anyway tear in a storm. We could not have a single-height net cover just over our terrace as the pigeons would sit at higher level areas and poop. That way the net would get dirty making it even more difficult to clean. The areas where the pigeons sat were inaccessible to us as the neighbors above had grilled their windows and balconies (again owing to the pigeon problem).
We racked our brains for months. What can we do …. can not cover a ceiling with double height, can not have a temporary structure with a net cover, can not access points where they sit frequently. We thought while the pigeons pooped. We helplessly watched and cleaned. Even shooing them stopped working. They became shameless. Even if I stood right next to a pigeon and yelled it would look at me like “Whats your problem, lady?” It would not budge a bit. Not even if I pulled the cloth on which it was sitting! I thought I heard it singing :
You can shout but I will not stop,
I will poop until I drop,
One fine day I hired a temporary maid who said she would clean the house while my other maid was on leave. She was astonished to see the amount of filth on my terrace. She asked me why I had not fixed it. I told her that the window slabs above my house were inaccessible as they had been hard grilled. She immediately suggested, “Why dont you drop a long rope down from above and pull up whatever it is you want to install to ward off the pigeons?” I was surprised at the intelligent solution she had provided easily. I immediately told myself that I had no excuse for not fixing the pigeons till now. I got cracking and with the help of many tips on the internet I actually found my solution.
Pigeon nets actually work best. However, there are some cases where you can not fix nets due to various reasons. That’s where you can try some of the ideas mentioned here. We will try to confuse the pigeons about the area where they are going to land. That way they will just stay away.
DIY Solutions to ward off birds
Bird spikes :
These are actually available in some good pest control stores. It’s just a series of spikes that are interleaved so the pigeon cant find place to sit. I had a lot of gay steel wire with me. So Mayank just made spikes at home using a plier, and I inserted it in every alternate grid in the hard wired mesh above our terrace. While installing spikes its important to keep in mind the wings span. You have to leave the perfect amount of gap between the spikes to ensure a pigeon can’t sit. Observe it’s flight and estimate the width when its wings are spread open. Keep the gap between spikes less than that.
Mayank also made a circular bird spike to fit the small area that pigeons would sit on. This was made by hammering nails into a plastic cd cover. Over each nail a colored plastic straw was placed. The straw was sealed to the nail with the help of an adhesive like fevicol. Thin, nylon strings were used to secure this structure on their favorite sitting spot. Finally a stone was placed over the plastic CD case to give it some weight. If your straws loosely fit the nails you can tie each straw to the nail with a thread after using an adhesive inside.
Nylon mesh :
These are the same bags made of thin, nylon fibers that are usually used to hold onions, potatoes and garlic in supermarkets. If you don’t buy vegetables that come in these bags you can look at kids toys too. For example tiny tennis rackets, sand castle kits, colorful plastic balls, etc. come in these net bags.
You need to open up the bags and clip it to the area where the bird sits. You can use a clothesline clip for this. Alternately, for long lasting grip you can seal the bag with some tempering. Cut open the bag and place it over the area. Now, gently burn the open ends with the help of a candle. Press the molten edges firmly so they seal. (Please do this carefully or you might end up with burnt fingers and smiling pigeons.)
If, like me, you disposed most of the bags already, you can use a nylon dish scrubber. It costs about Rs 5/- and is easily available in retail outlets. An old bathing scrub will work just fine too. You need to open the scrubber so you can use it as a nylon net.
There is a small chance that despite this arrangement one pigeon might dare to actually sit on the mesh. In that case, you can create spikes on the net using bendable plastic straws . Wedge them through the net alternately changing direction. These straws can be made sturdy by passing gay steel wire through them and securing them to the grills. That way they wont blow away in the breeze.
Fine, transparent thread knots :
The idea of using nylon nets was inspired by Tony’s video. He used a fine fishing line to create a simple structure that wards off pigeons.
If you see the video it demonstrates how knots made from thin, transparent nylon threads, can scare pigeons away from those areas. The knotted threads might not be clearly visible to us but since pigeons have excellent eye sight they will spot it. They will not want to sit near the threads that are swaying in the breeze out of fear of something that will entangle their feathers.
Now that we have fixed the areas above our terrace where they frequently sit we can use a temporary structure to fix a pigeon net on. That way pigeons can not enter our terrace and can not dirty the net either. That’s the only way to get totally rid of them. Its time to claim back our space.
The main reason why I was losing the battle with the pigeons this far is that I was thinking like myself. Had I started thinking like a pigeon I would have managed to get rid of them long ago. While reading through some material on the net, I realized that a pigeon is an intelligent creature but it’s scared of certain things. It carefully examines the area it’s about to perch on. When it notices a pattern of fine threads, spikes of plastic / metal that are placed close by it will not risk sitting and will eventually look for greener pastures.
How to clean Pigeon Droppings :
Now that we have fixed the pigeon problem lets discuss how to clean up whats already there. It’s important to not clean the pigeon poop when its dry, as breathing in the particles can cause respiratory problems. We need to first soak it for 10-15 minutes using a disinfectant solution and then clean it with the help of a stiff scrubber. Its necessary to wear covered shoes, hand gloves and a face mask so we don’t contract any diseases. Later, we need to wash our hands and all equipment used for scrubbing, with a disinfectant.
So these were the techniques we applied to ward off birds. I find pigeons flying in, trying to sit and flying back. Definitely, sealing off balconies works best. However, in cases where you are not able to seal it or dont want to stay in a cage (instead of the pigeons) you can try some of the solutions mentioned above.
There is one last, yet very interesting way, I found on the net. I saw a video of pigeons in a granary. Obviously, there were so many of them on a huge floor where neither fine nets, spikes nor total isolation was possible. So guess what they used? They recorded sounds of a predator that actually pigeons are scared of. Whenever they play the recorded voice of the predator bird, all pigeons just flee! I was so impressed with the idea because granaries cant really use any other way. After all, we do need intelligent solutions when we are talking of fighting pigeons. Who says it has a bird-brain? Let’s not get misled by the innocent face and baby walk. In short, pigeons are not a symbol of peace. They are a threat to mankind. When the world ends only pigeons will survive.