Jul 10, 2019 | Featured Web Article

How to Keep Pigeons From Your Feeder

Besides being considered pests, pigeons are also famous feeder bullies and hogs. They'll gobble up as much food as possible while scaring smaller songbirds away.

We've all known the joy of watching birds frequent our backyard feeders. When a flock of rock pigeons moves into the neighborhood, however, you might have a problem on your hands. These birds, the feral progeny of domesticated rock doves, have a reputation for creating large amounts of acidic, property-damaging waste, and for carrying disease. This has prompted some communities to ban wild bird feeding in an effort to deter large flocks from making themselves at home. If you feel that your feeders are at risk of being overrun by rock pigeons, there are steps you can take to curtail their efforts before you have a massive nuisance on your hands.

Use a Different Feeder

Besides being considered pests, pigeons are also famous feeder bullies and hogs. They'll gobble up as much food as possible while scaring smaller songbirds away. To deter pigeons from overrunning your backyard, select a feeder that’s specially designed to accommodate only smaller birds, such as a tube feeder. Some tube feeder styles include a protective cage that prevents larger birds from accessing the contents. If you use a platform feeder, you may be able to install a wire mesh cage to keep out pigeons and other large birds. Alternatively, you could invest in a weight-activated feeder with feeder ports that automatically close when a squirrel or large bird lands on the perch. Smaller, lightweight birds will not trigger the ports to close when they alight, and so will have no problem retaining access to the seeds inside.

Switch Your Seeds

If you'd still like to welcome jays and similar-sized birds to your backyard, you don't necessarily have to install feeders that accommodate only small species. You can try to keep pigeons away from your feeding stations by offering larger seeds such as striped sunflower and peanuts in the shell. Pigeons eat seeds by swallowing them whole, so the new super-sized seeds will not be a dining option for them. Jays, on the other hand, will enjoy and appreciate the shelled peanuts.

Alter Their Perch

A final idea to keep rock pigeons away from your feeders is to study where the invasive birds like to perch. Pigeons are typically most comfortable roosting on flat surfaces, such as window ledges. Forget trying to trick them into thinking predators are near by setting up plastic owls or rubber snakes; if they're effective at first, they won't be for long. Instead, install old CDs, Mylar balloons, aluminum pie plates, or noisy windchimes to introduce flashes of light and unexpected sounds to their environment. You could also staple plastic bags to perch surfaces, so that they will unexpectedly rustle in the breeze to make the roost sites unwelcoming.

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  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021