Spilled food - pigeons

Hi, this is my first post so forgive me for asking something I see has been asked 100 times…

I’ve got 2 bird feeding stations, a feeder pole for wee birds, and a table for everyone (mostly aimed at the huge starling family I have). My problem is the starlings and the sparrows that use the second feeding station manage to throw a good 80% of the fat balls and seed on the ground as they eat, which is causing a big feral pigeon problem - I’m happy for 3 or 4 pigeons to help clean up some mess but a flock of 10 is not what I want (for valid reasons - one being the poop and the other being neighbours). What is the best way of minimising the amount of food available to the pigeons on the ground? (They rarely try and actually eat from the feeders.)

To my knowledge there are 3 tricks:

1. Changing food - I will stop buying ‘seed mix’ as soon as this has ran out but I still want to feed fat balls, which the pigeons enjoy just as much

2. Trays to minimise spill - would attaching a small plant saucer (with holes) under the fat ball feeder catch enough spill? As they peck at my cage-tube of fat balls they seem to throw it everywhere but is there a different type of suet/fat ball feeder where the spill would be more controlled?

3. Limiting access under the feeder - putting some sort of restriction like a cage under the feeder so that pigeons can only get food spilled at the very edge, but that other birds could pick up most of the mess directly underneath - this seems like the best option but I’m really not keen on a big dog crate under my bird table that entirely ruins the visual pleasure. I’m thinking if there was some sort of mesh/cage cover that was just raised a few inches off the ground that would stop the pigeons from reaching but not starlings, and not be that ugly either? Or maybe wrapping some wire mesh around the base of the table?

Any other advice or suggestions?


  • Just an update about a few things I’ve tried as part of method 2 - reducing spill:

    I swapped the open cage fat ball feeder for a caged one that has a small tray underneath - this has greatly reduced the amount ending up on the ground, most of it seems to be caught in the tray and then finished off by the starlings. I’ll maybe look for one with a slightly bigger tray and perhaps no cage as it’s unnecessary (I don’t have a squirrel problem).

    I also did a little makeshift job of attaching a mesh tray under the Peckish feeder, just to see if a deeper tray reduces the spill - this also seems to be a success! So far no pigeons have tried to take advantage of the larger perch zone either. The mesh is also much better for drainage as the little holes in the tray always get clogged. There is still some spill but this might be less when I finish off this mix and swap it to sunflower hearts. If this works I’ll need to find a feeder with a deeper tray or a way of attaching the mesh tray in a way that’s still easy to clean…

    I’ve also had a thought for method 3 - considering the awkward shape of the base of a bird table, if I had 4 smaller cages I could place them in each ‘corner’ of the base, which would also help stabilise the bird table. I still want these to be as shallow as possible though. Alternatively, I’ve read that putting rocks underneath can deter them, which would obviously look a whole lot better. Has anyone tried this?

  • In my experience the only way to get rid of pigeons is to stop feeding for a while as they will still hang about if there is a food source. 

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • I’ll keep an eye over the next week and see if what I’ve done makes much difference, it does seem to have made a huge difference already - I’ve got a flock of sparrows and goldfinches on the small bird feeder, and starlings and more sparrows attacking the other bird feeder, yet only 1 collared dove hanging about now! But if they’re all still hanging about through the week I’ll maybe put away everything but a restricted mealworm feeder and the niger feeder until they leave.