Pigeons are ruining my ability to enjoy my balcony. They perch on a ledge above, so poop is everywhere. I don’t like the idea of using those pointy sharp metal things to discourage them; is there a less nasty way to get them to leave my balcony alone?
–Dawn, San Francisco, CA
Kudos to you for trying to stay on friendly terms with your pigeon neighbors. I’m sure there must be a way to preserve harmony while maintaining a healthier pecking order.
While bird spikes may look barbaric, they are usually blunt on the ends and won’t hurt the birds that land on them, according to the folks at Bird Barrier, a pest control product manufacturer — they simply let your feathered friends know that this won’t be a comfortable place for them to roost.
In what the Audubon Society is calling “an avian act of poetic justice,” however, a recent Dutch study indicates that “Carrion Crows and Eurasian Magpies are stealing and repurposing the spikes as a nest-building material.” Fortunately for you, Dawn, pigeons aren’t the brightest birds in the sky (so to speak), and spikes seem to serve their intended purpose for them, at least.
Nonetheless, if you’re uneasy about bird spikes, the Humane Society recommends several other pigeon-proofing products.
One option is to attach slanted wood or metal sheathing (aka “birdslides”) on ledges to prevent pigeons from landing on them. While the idea of watching birds play on a slide sounds like a blast, it doesn’t actually happen, and pigeons, it seems, are party-poopers, so it will keep them away. This tool might seem a little more polite than bird spikes.
There’s also “bird wire,” which is a thin wire suspended between a series of small posts on surfaces where birds might land. When pigeons try to land on the ledge, they land on the wires instead, which feel unstable to them, prompting the prodigious poopers to fly elsewhere.
Lastly, netting can keep pigeons out of certain areas, but it may offend your aesthetic preferences if the netting covering the ledge above your balcony is visible.
One thing is for sure, the Humane Society warns: do not ever use polybutylene gel bird repellents to keep pigeons off of your balcony. These sticky repellents can damage birds’ feathers or get any animal that comes in contact with them stuck — pretty much the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
There you have it, Dawn: bird spikes aren’t the worst option on the market, but if you’d feel like a better pal to pigeons by using an alternative, you’ve got options.