Pest Control Question:
What products can be used to control pigeons?
Mr. Pest Control’s Answer:
We’ll skip my soap box about the need to control pigeons, because anyone who truly is familiar with these non-native birds and their impact on human health will recognize that it is not in our best interest to live intimately with them. Pest bird management is a huge opportunity for PMP’s, and should be yet another add-on service you can provide for existing customers. This may be a great way to fill in those slow times during the winter, when insect pests are minimized and you may have more available time.
While feral pigeons do not really have any regulatory protection, killing them is generally not an option. You might be doing so legally, but you will run into a lot of unwanted bad publicity for it. However, there may be times when shooting persistent birds will be necessary, especially if they are nesting on a building site and absolutely refuse to leave. This should be done discreetly and with an air rifle that makes little sound. Even with exclusion devices installed a pigeon that has been nesting in a location will do anything and everything possible to return to that nest, and could bypass many physical devices.
Trapping pigeons is one possible option, but this can be time consuming, and once trapped you need to deal with how to dispose of them. In some areas they could be sold to others who would use them for their own purposes, but I won’t get into that. Releasing them well away from where you trapped them likely wouldn’t accomplish much, as other flocks would soon replace the ones you trapped, it could be illegal to release “wildlife” off the site where trapped, and even the ones you release could find their way back. They are, after all, “homing” pigeons.
We have several common options for pigeon management, and these are either the use of a bait product or the installation of exclusion devices. The baits now fall into 2 categories – repellent and sterilant, and the sterilant is called OvoControl, and has gained tremendous popularity and acceptance. This is a temporary sterilant, meaning it needs to be eaten regularly by the pigeons to keep them sterile, but it does not harm the birds in any way. It simply prevents them from producing more of their kind, and over time will reduce the total population of the birds in an area. Univar carries this product and the various feeding accessories that go with it, so speak to your local Univar rep for more information, or visit the Innolytics website that you can find in our Manufacturers listing on PestWeb.
The other popular bait is Avitrol, also carried by Univar. This is actually a toxin, and if over-used it will lead to dead birds. Properly used, however, it will cause birds that eat it to feel odd, and these affected birds begin to emit alarm sounds and behavior that alarms the rest of their flock, causing that flock to leave the area where they assume something must be wrong. The affected birds will come out of this behavior after the Avitrol has been metabolized, so properly done no birds suffer any long term problems with this bait either. The drawback to this solution is that you simply chase the flock around, and it lands somewhere else to become that person’s problem. You also leave no protection for the building you have as a customer, so new flocks are likely to discover it as a roosting location as well.
There also are various sticky materials that can be placed on ledges and which irritate the feet of a pigeon that lands on it, causing it to leave. There can be drawbacks to this, including the fact that the goop can get runny in hot weather and flow down the side of the building, can be covered with dust in dusty locations, and after a short period of time may no longer be sticky and would no longer offer repellency to new birds. While some websites state that these repellents “burn” the feet of the birds it is not so, and it is only irritating.
Another repellent is one that can be fogged, and this comes in a number of trade names including Fog Force carried by Univar. The active ingredient is Methyl anthranilate, which sounds ominous but which is actually derived from grapes, and to humans has a rather pleasant odor. But, birds are dramatically affected by it because of their different olfactory (smell) arrangement, and small concentrations of the vapors will cause actual pain to the birds and cause them to leave an area. It is effective on many kinds of pest birds, and there are various mechanical devices for fogging it, including timed foggers for permanent placement.
But, for the best long term control to prevent pigeons from roosting on any location you can install various physical barriers, such as netting, spike strips, electrical strips, wires and bouncing wires, and other devices that physically stop the birds from being able to land on the surface. These will cost more to install initially, but once installed they are pemanent, and will still be there and working for many years. They can be installed so that there is no degradation of the appearance of the building, so they are not objectionable. They cause absolutely no harm to the birds, and thus are acceptable to all but the most insane pigeon lovers. (may have stepped over the line there). Univar carries the entire line of Bird Barrier products, and you can view the Bird Barrier website for short videos that depict the installation of them, or contact Bird Barrier to help you get started with big jobs.
Mr. Pest Control