over population of feral pigeons

Can anyone help me with a feral pigeon population that has really got out of hand.  About 8 years ago, my husband and our young son thought it would be great fun to feed 6 white pigeons that visited our garden. Within a short space of time, that number grew to 80!  Racers which have lost their way home have ended up with us, and my husband has actually "adopted" 3 which have taken up residence in my shed.  I stopped him from feeding the feral pigeons specifically, however, I still get around 30 to 40 in my garden each day. I have bought all kinds of feeders designed to deter them but to no avail.  They peck at the seed dropped from the globe feeders, cling on to the guardians of other feeders, sit on the tray of the nyjer seed feeder, and can reach through the ground feeder guardian.  When they are spooked by something, they all fly off at once and scare everything else in the garden.  Spikes on the roof are not an option, and that wouldn't keep them out of the garden.  I have tried frightening them with a kite and helium balloons, but this has not worked.  They all seem to be nesting in a derelict building near to my home, so the numbers will increase yet again.  I don't really want to take drastic action such as poisoning them, but I can't think of any other solution, as we are not specifically feeding these birds.  Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Ann, Haverfordwest

  • Hi Ann welcom to the forum,

    My advice would be to completely stop feeding all birds in your garden regardless of the feeder for a coulple of weeks or a month and continue to scare the pigeons every time you see them. Hopefully then they will realise there is nothing to keep visiting your garden for.

    Your feeder birds will return so you dont have to worry about losing them aswell.

    Hope this help, good luck

  • In reply to owain21:

    Hi Ann, and welcome from me.

    Poor you, I know how you must feel. I have a collection of them in my garden. Although there are probably about 12 different ones I rarely see more than 6 at a time. Even then they can be a nuisance when they fly off and scare the smaller birds with their flapping. I stopped using cereal based seeds and anything like mueseli and oats to try and deter them, but then they decided they like sunflower hearts. I can't imagine what it must be like to have as many as you. My few come in useful because they clean out the flat feeders early morning, making them easier for me to wash!!

    I think Owain is right. You could just try removing all your seed feeders, but scatter some mealworms and raisins/sultanas on the ground. They don't seem interested in those.

    Cheers, Linda.

    See my photos on Flickr

  • Hi Anne, I understand your problem as I have problems with pigeons too. The answer about witholding the food sounds like a good one as pigeons will only gather where they know to be a reliable food supply. The more the food is put out then the greater the number of pigeons will turn up on your doorstep. Deprivation should cause them to move on and look elsewhere.

    With regards to the poisoning; As far as I am aware, but I'm sure someone will correct me if wrong, I think it's illegal to poison Pigeons as this results in the birds that predate on them also being poisoned. They are a food source to several birds of prey such as the Peregrine and Sparrowhawk to name two. So unfortunately this is not a road you will be able to go down.

  • In reply to Barn Owl 36:

    When you feed birds in your garden, you attract a cross-section of all the birds in the area.      it can be very difficult to deter one or more species, without deterring others. However, there are a few ideas that you could try to stop the larger birds from feeding at your table.



    Pigeons are ground feeding birds and will eat a variety of foods including seeds of cereal crops such as wheat barley and oats. They will also eat peas, plant seeds and grain and a wide range of other, mainly vegetarian, foods. So, there really aren't many seeds that a pigeon won't eat...


    The main problem comes when seeds from feeders fall to the floor when hanging feeders are shaken around by the smaller birds feeding. It would be a good idea to either catch the falling seeds in a bucket or similar (placing some wire mesh over the top to allow seeds to fall in, but preventing pigeons), and disposing of them before the pigeons are able to reach them. Another alternative could be a ground protector cage placed on the ground beneath the feeders such as - http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/p/BirdAccessories/Ground_protectors.htm - this will allow the seeds to drop on the floor but prevents larger birds from reaching them.

    With regards to poisoning - it is illegal to do so under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Besides, if you were to kill the birds, by any method, you will not solve the problem - unless you address the food that they can get to, (and perhaps even get the roof space of the nearby property blocked or netted), they will be back - you may even find the problem is worse as they breed very quickly and will do so to regain their numbers.

    Help swifts by letting us know what they're up to - fill in the 2010 survey

  • In reply to LRB:

    Hi LRB,

    Just a note to say my feral pigeons are anything but ground feeders. They feed from any flat feeder - the bird table and mesh trays mounted on fences and one on a pole, and any trays at the base of hanging feeders. I only ever see them on the ground when all the food has gone from the flat feeders late in the evening. 

     I don't have the problems that Ann has, and I don't mind them.

    Cheers, Linda.

    See my photos on Flickr

  • In reply to Sparrow:

    Hi Sparrow - yep, you're absolutely right - they will feed from any flat surface; trays, shed/garage roofs, patios etc etc - and this is where the problem lies - i wouldn't recommend stopping feeding for the smaller birds, but hanging feeders or those that the pigeons can gain no access, coupled with 'seed-catching' devices beneath, are the only way to ensure the pigeons have nothing to keep coming back for.

    Help swifts by letting us know what they're up to - fill in the 2010 survey

  • In reply to LRB:

    I found that a large circle of chicken wire around the base of my feeder pole has stopped most of them but still allows the smaller birds through. Unfortunately, the  Pigeons in their desperation to get at the feeders have now taken to hanging off the edge of the feeder perch whilst constantly flapping their wings to keep them airbound long enough to grab a couple of mouthfuls of food. Tried feeder trays but they are able to perch on these. Only solution I think, is to get the feeders that close off when a heavier bird or squirrel gets access but they are very expensive.

  • Hi Ann

    I sympathise with your problem. I often wish I could attract a female sparrowhawk or a peregrine to come and eat some of my pigeons.

    I took all of the flat type feeders off my pole, and I have also had to remove the seed trays on the tubular feeders because the pigeons can land on the seed trays and then eat the seeds out of the tubular feeders.

    They now don't land on the tubular feeders without seed trays attached that I currently have.

    LRB's idea of catching seed below in a receptacle with a wire mesh lid would definitely work, however I now use husk free seed, and 'straights' like peanut pieces and sunflower hearts, apart from the nyger seed, so there isn't much wastage below. I have to have a seed tray on the nyger or it makes a terrible mess on the lawn

    I'm happy for the occasional wood pigeons and collared doves to share the ground mix in my feeder tray on the lawn, but I'm not prepared to feed Peck n' Mix or suet pellets to them from my fence mounted tray. Only one pigeon currently lands on the fence, and I scare him off until the food in that tray has been eaten by other birds. You won't believe it but I have even stood behind a conifer bush and waited for him to land on the fence near to me then flicked a towel towards him! If I can't watch and there is suet in that feeder, I take it in until I can watch.

    This works reasonably well for me.

    I wish you the very best of luck in getting rid of your feral pigeons. If I had that many ferals I wouldn't feed birds.

    Best wishes Chris

    Best wishes Chris

    Click Here to see my photos

  • Hi Ann, and welcome to the site.

    You poor thing!

    Thankfully we don't get any Feral Pigeons here in our garden in Ceredigion at all - but when we lived near Richmond in Surrey that was almost all we could attract. They were a real nuisance and so DIRTY! The only thing I can suggest is to stop feeding everything until they go away and then only use squirrel proof feeders (but it will need some sort of saucer attached underneath to catch the bits that the smaller birds always seem to drop.)

    We have a problem with Rooks, Jackdaws and Crows here .. and the trouble is they are so crafty - they always seem to find ingenious new ways to get the seeds out of the feeders! At the moment - one swings on the feeder whilst two or three others stand underneath feeding. Then after a few minutes they swap over! Incredible!

    Best of luck getting rid of them ....... do let us know how you get on. I'm sure that someone on this site will be able to help you.

    Best wishes

    Diana  (from Rhydowen)



  • In reply to owain21:


    Followed your advice and withdrew food for approx 4 weeks. Still have a few hanging around because of the derelict building nearby, but, so far so good.

    Thank you so much for the advice!!