How I displaced a family of pigeons from my roof

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A couple of weeks ago, I found a bird's nest outside my window. Two eggs laid to brew in the middle of a scatter of slimy brown twigs arranged in a tightly knit bowl. Pigeon eggs, I soon found out.

My window opens up into a 10-foot or so long crack between the annex of our house's roof and our neighbor's third story wall. It's about half a foot wide and protected from wind and rain — perfect for a family of pigeons to raise their kids. But here's the thing: I don't like pigeons, at least not the dirty feral pigeons that live in cities. I don't like the sounds they make, the way they fly into your face, the way their shit pollutes the air. I've been shat on twice, once in NYC and once in Paris. And now, in my home in SF, they cooed and hooted and scuttled around on the rooftop above my head all morning at dawn. It was driving me crazy.

My roommate and I decided to remove the eggs. He put on some surgical gloves and reached out into the nook, carefully removing them from the nest and placing them in a Ziploc bag. He then grabbed the twigs that made up the nest and put them in a garbage bag. I bought some bird spikes and placed them along the ridge so they wouldn't be able to land there. Maybe if the eggs weren't there anymore, we thought, the parents would stop coming back. I was wrong.

Over the next few days, the pigeons only got louder. I was getting less sleep and growing more anxious about the imminent pigeon mass exodus that would turn my roof into their global hub. Were they mad that I put spikes on their nesting space and took away their eggs? Did they want revenge? "I doubt if your birds were mourning simply over lost eggs," says Bill Mitiu, a regional director of the American Pigeon Racing Union. "That was probably the male courting his hen and calling her back to the next so they can get back to work and have more eggs as soon as possible."

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Mitiu also told me that, unlike many other birds, feral pigeons don't weave their nests on treetops; they simply look for flat narrow surfaces that are safely tucked away from bad weather risks and stack twigs and straws on it to make comfortable bedding. They like to be high up on buildings to avoid predators, and prefer ledges to large surfaces. Once they build a nest in a safe place, they stay there forever as long as they have access to food. Just removing a nest isn't enough; they'll simply come back and build another one. Basically, we had to make our rooftop look so scary to them that the risks of landing on it would outweigh the benefits of returning to a spot that they now considered home. Our first step, then, was to find out exactly what was going on up there.

My friend Christian came over on Monday afternoon; we tossed a 16-foot ladder against the exterior of the house but it only reached halfway. Christian tried climbing out of my window and wedging himself into the nook, but it was too narrow and he would have gotten stuck. We decided to try again the next day.

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On Tuesday, we borrowed a neighbor's ladder, which appeared to be longer, but it still wasn't long enough. I posted a Craigslist ad offering $30 to anyone who would bring and loan us a 30+ foot ladder; I also put up a request to friends on Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, the pigeons on the roof kept getting louder and more aggressive. I bought some earplugs at Walgreens and threw my pillow against the window every half an hour, which made them shut up for a few seconds at a time.

We finally made it to the rooftop on Thursday. Jeremy, who plays on my volleyball team, arrived at our house with a giant 30-foot ladder attached to the hood of his Scion. My roommate and I bought some more spikes, aluminum foil, super glue, bird repellent glue, all purpose glue, and some rat poison pellets. We propped the ladder up against the house and went up with all our gear.

pigeon spikes.JPG

Over the next two days, we set up the ultimate pigeon hell — a labyrinth of deterrents that would hopefully make them find another rooftop to hang out and have babies on. Here's what we did:

1. Blocked the two entrances to the nook completely with spikes.
2. Superglued sheets of aluminum foil to the roof edge; pigeons like ledges, but they don't like shiny moving objects.
3. Applied pigeon repellent glue — which is sticky and unpleasant to land on —along the edge of the roof directly above the nook. This was where most of the early morning cooing and scuttling was taking place.
4. Cut the rest of the spike rails into little blocks and glued them down along the roof edges and next to the nook, so that any attempts to land would be thwarted by the possibility of getting stabbed in the butt.

We decided not to use the rat poison pellets — it's inhumane, bad to have pigeon carcasses on the roof (which, according to the guy at the hardware store, often serves as a new nesting ground for other pigeon families), and dangerous if the pellets somehow end up in the yard and the dogs eat them.

After that, the pigeons stopped coming back. I felt a little bit guilty for taking their eggs and slightly disappointed that I didn't get to see baby pigeons — because they grow to full size in 28 days, baby pigeons are rarely seen — but mostly, I was just glad I would be getting a good night's sleep.

Thumbnail image via


  1. some people are going to give you a bad rap for taking away a pigeon nesting place (although I don’t know how sane they are), but good for you! Human ingenuity FTW!

    1. You and your friends are clever but glue is cruel and very hard to bathe out of their feathers. I volunteer at a wildlife center. Glue is sad. Good call on no pellets because of dogs or hawks (going up the food chain). Squabs (baby pigeons) are a delight. The true ugly ducklings of the city!

  2. You could have eaten them. Just a thought. They’re a little bland though, not much meat there. Better to stuff them or use them in a stew. You have to feed them for a (short) while. Use some seed and wait a little for whatever polluted city garbage they’ve been eating to leave their system.

  3. Next week’s Taste Test: Squab.

    And the 12 egg omelette.

    You’ll get flak for this, but sleep deprivation is a form of torture for a reason.

  4. The best part of this story will be the posts telling you that you SHOULD HAVE done something else…

    Good story.

      1. Hah hah, you should see baby coots. They are ridiculous on the ugly scale. No wonder their parents sometimes kill them if they’re too annoying.

        I…like pigeons. They make soft little cooing noises, do funny mating displays, and are crafty little guys. I love their head bobbing and their glossy gray feathers.

    1. Baby pigeons bring to mind tiny winged Predator babies. Not good. Not worth hitting with a broom or anything but definitely not cute.

  5. Odd, to willingly remove animals from your environment. I live in a metropolis in the desert, and many of us love seeing things like pigeons and mice and coyotes, maybe because the weather is so severe there are many fewer plants and animals, and those that can make it in the heat are appreciated and cultivated. My husband and I would be delighted to hear birds mating and nesting by our bedroom, and we would consider the house as much theirs as ours. Just a different approach to the role of animal and the concepts of property ownership and stewardship. I’m glad you found a way to get quiet without killing them- I appreciate your willingness to compromise.

  6. This is why urban hipster blogs are more interesting. Craigslist, high ladder acts, poison, lost sleep, arts ‘n crafts, drama! You just don’t get that with, “Pigeons kept me up last night. Picking up a pellet gun at Cabela’s on the way home from work.” Hell, that fits in a tweet.

    1. I have friends who live in the ‘burbs outside of Columbus and are frequently awakened at 4:30-5:00 a.m. by squirrels noisily mating in the big tree that crowns outside their bedroom window. They’re utter pacifists, which is probably the only reason they haven’t gone to the local Wal-Mart and obtained enough firepower to wipe out all the squirrels AND chipmunks in a five-block radius.

    2. You obviously have never actually tried this. As a boy, I had pigeons nesting right above my bedroom window. My trusty pellet rifle had little effect. Unless you can score a direct head shot (difficult, since their heads seem to always be in motion), the pellet will simply bounce off their thick padding of feathers. At best, you might get a dirty look from them before they fly off, to return minutes later.

      1. I respectfully disagree. A shot from your trusty Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock might not have much of an effect but a multi-pump pellet gun packs more than enough power to penetrate any small animal you wish to eradicate.

        1. Absolutely – particularly if you have one of the larger pellet calibers (range goes down but striking power within that range goes up)

  7. We had pigeons start a nest on our window mounted AC – the scratching and cooing was endless. We found one of those fake plastic Owls with big glassy eyes lying around in our Brownstone’s back garden and tied it in an adjacent window. It worked a treat. No Pigeons, but my 3 year old daughter was terrified of the Owl beside the window. We made up stories for over a week explaining how this Owl was our friend, his name was “Browny” and he was going to make sure we can sleep at night by telling those pigeons to “Go away and let the people sleep!” My daughter can sleep now, but she still hates that Owl.

    1. A Turtle shaped gargoyle I gave my brother (from the sadly closed “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras” shop of Newbury street, Boston), supposedly kept birds from nesting on one of the windows they used before.
      You missed the opportunity to festoon the place with gargoyles. Unless they come back, in which case, I heartily endorse gargoyles.

      1. Oh man, that shop was the best! Now where am I gonna get my stained glass widows ripped fresh from a demolished church? It won’t scare pigeons, but damn will it look cool.

      2. from the sadly closed “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras” shop of Newbury street, Boston

        They closed? Dammit!

  8. FYI the rat poison: it isn’t just dogs or cats that might decide to eat wayward pellets, but it might also be scavengers could decide that free pigeon is tasty. if one of those, like an eagle or hawk, were to eat it and the problem was traced back to you, their death would be a federal offense (if i remember correctly, the migratory bird treaty act –…

    thank you for not putting out the poison…

  9. I’m impressed you did it yourself – I am staying with a friend who has spent (with her neighbors) over $7,000 to have pigeons “removed” from the back of their houses (where 3 houses come together in a small enclosed deck area). The “professionals” put up spikes, netting, installed some annoying thing that clicked… Guess what? We still have the disgusting beasts. Also in SF, where they are especially vile.

  10. they simply look for flat narrow surfaces that are safely tucked away from bad weather risks

    Like the wok in my kitchen cupboard. That came as a bit of a surprise.

    I used to live in a very old building which often had pigeons (and sometimes jackdaws) come down the chimneys- I’d occasionally come home to find a room covered in blood, feathers and pigeon droppings. A neighbour had a pigeon fall into a lit fire, and fly (briefly) around the room while alight.

    1. The flaming pigeon flying around the house is one of those things that is hilarious to hear about but is probably not funny to actually see happening.

  11. Pellet gun? a real redneck would use a 12ga. I had to deal with a crazy yellow flicka (woodpecker) putting holes in the building where i work. After i almost fell off a ladder fixing a hole, i decided it was him or me. We tried all kinds of stuff, a noise sensitive spider that dropped down a string when he started pecking, a red mylar “octopus” that waved in the wind, a .22 w/birdshot cartridges, fill material for the holes that was supposed to repel it… Finally somebody built a house further up on the hill and he decided he likes that one better, good riddance, though i have seen someone up on a ladder there, looked like he was patching a woodpecker hole.

    1. Get rid of the carpenter bees and other 6-legged guests in your siding, and the woodpeckers will quickly lose interest. Unless they’re that west coast species that hides acorns in the holes.

      1. Not as simple as that. Sometimes they bang on something because they like the noise.
        My brother had problems with it. Cedar siding (no bugs). Had luck with one of those drop-down giant spiders (damned thing scared *me* the first time my brother showed it to me – and I’m OK with spiders)

    2. Woodpecker? Sounds like the problem wasn’t the woodpecker but you may have had bug infested and rotten wood. They peck at rotten wood trying to eat the bugs in it. Maybe the woodpecker was doing you a favor.

  12. I live in a city and y’all must have wimp pigeons. I see pigeons perching on those spike strips, even building nests against them. They catch and hold the sticks nicely. (Also flying plastic, leaves and litter but the birds don’t seem to mind.) I can’t recommend them for a residence unless you want your home to look like the exterior of a liquor store in the Bronx.

    Plastic owls are scary for the first week. After that they make nice perches. Also bird toilets.

    The only way to keep pigeons off of/out of your roof/balcony/eaves/etc. is to keep the area clean clean clean. Bi-weekly trisodium phosphate scrubs with spot detergent hose-downs are good. It’s too much work for most people who are happy to put up some wire, toss down some poison and walk away.

  13. Baby pigeons are gross. I had some brood outside my apartment when I was little. It scared me for life. Trust me you did not miss anything.

  14. They are so right! I would have been so ready to burn you if not for the fact that I’ve had to act like a automaton scarescow on my own balcony every 30 seconds while I was living in the city, eventhough the balcony itself was already fully barbwired up.

    And they still managed to lay eggs and raise young in spite of all my effords!

    City pigeons are like flying rats!

  15. Please keep in mind that in some cities moving, tampering, relocating and messin’ with pigeons is against the law. As annoying as they are…just sayin’.

    1. yes I was told (Im in England) that now the pigeon has laid the egg (and its sitting proudly on it) its ‘illegal’ to move it!! :~

  16. From an evolution standpoint city pigeons are actually pretty awesome. David Quammen wrote a good bit about them in Wild Thoughts for Wild Places.

  17. Perhaps a simpler solution that I’ve yet to see fail: Predator urine.

    It isn’t overpowering, dissipates fairly quickly, but the animals don’t like setting up shop around an active territory. They detect it even after you cannot.

    1. I grew up on a smallholding in Africa and my dad obtained lion urine (actually, cage washings from a local zoo) which he poured around our property. It was like an invisible fence – the neighbour’s stupid dogs would come running towards our property and then stop like they’d hit a glass wall. They’d skulk away looking over their shoulders. It worked well to keep our dogs on our land, too.

  18. Twenty years ago, I worked for a retail store that was open 24 hours, the only one of its kind on the street. Pigeons decided they liked the warmth of the signage, and we eventually collected quite a herd on the roof. They would often hang out on the sign and crap on people coming in and out of the store.

    I finally hired a company to come in and drive them off. The solution presented was to poison them. I refused, not wanting to kill the buggers – and on a more practical level, I wasn’t sure how I would handle the PR nightmare of having a pigeon drop dead and land on an old lady. So the alternative was what Lisa ended up doing – installing spike strips and foam deterrent.

    It worked for about a week, until the pigeons realized they didn’t need to fear the spikes. The deterrent never seemed to do any good. Finally I called the company back, and he got around to sharing the details of his poison with me: the poison feed doesn’t actually kill the pigeons. It’s designed to make them sick to their stomach. If the lead pigeon gets sick on the feed, he will lead the rest of the flock off to a new location.

    Of course, I was pissed that he didn’t just say this from the start. Three days after he put the feed on the roof, the pigeons were gone for good – and I never saw a dead pigeon anywhere near my building.

  19. I’ve had good luck getting rid of critters (squirrels, birds, woodpeckers, cats, etc) using chile flakes and powder. A 1/2 pipe 10 or more feet long can even act as a handy blow gun for sending an ounce or two right where you need it without ever having to get on a ladder.

    My wife and I eat so much chile, and so many varieties, I’ve always got a handy selection to chose from. Chile flakes to discourage the cat from peeing on the rug (easier to vacuum than powder), piquin for your average rodent or bird, piquin/habanero blend for anybody who’s really pissed me off. Chipotle if I’m in a humorous mood.

  20. My solution was much simpler. I simply shot them with my laser rifle. But any old laser pointer would probably do as well. I just happen to have one in the form of a rifle. They left in a hurry and never came back. Loaned it to a neighbor who had been trying spikes for a year and they left and haven’t come back to his house either.

  21. When I found a ‘nest’ outside my home (two twigs and an egg) one of the pigeos was sitting very near. I took the egg. The pigeon looked upset and agressive, but it never returned.

  22. I like animals in general, but pidgeons can be a problem.

    A friend of mine had a nest in the ivy by her window and it was infested with tiny bird lice. They crawled in through the cracks in the window by the thousands.

    We tried all sorts of things to keep them out. A combination of duct tape and vasseline cut them down to hundreds. Not nice.

  23. To keep the pigeons at bay on my NYC terrace, I use 2 approaches. The first is that spinning head owl already mentioned here. The pigeons caught on to that plaster corpse pretty quick so in the spring and summer I move the critter around every so often to different ledges. I also use foil pinwheels — those shiny spinning toys. I stick these in 3 small, dirt filled flower pots and also keep them continually on the move. Between all their spinning, whirring sounds and sparkly lights, the pinwheels have pretty much done the trick.

  24. Lisa 1, Evil Nasty Animals 0.

    I don’t know – still not convinced that the whole adventure was necessary… I mean, Lisa lives in a city, and cities are noisy places. If she can get used to all the sirens, cars, delivery trucks, horns, and planes (probably not even noticing it all, I’d guess), surely it wouldn’t take long before a little scratching and cooing becomes part of the soundscape, too.
    I know when I last moved, it took me a while to get used to the new sounds, especially the early morning crows cawing and the bluejays scratching for food outside my window, but now they’re just more of the comforting sounds that I hardly notice but which I’d miss if they were gone. And it kind of reminds me of the “share” concept…

    Disclaimer – I’m not PETA (sorry, #22), just granola. Oh, and to follow up with #2 and #3, squab is tasty, but adult pigeon is awful. Seems that the muscles they need to be able to fly at highway speeds for hours on end doesn’t make for tender meat! To see that flying in action, check out the BBC video Pigeon vs. Peregrine Falcon (complete with PigeonCam) at:

    1. First off, sirens/cars/trucks/horns/planes are not constant 24-hour noise makers; traffic dies down significantly in the early morning hours. A pigeon living on your roof is there all the time, all day, and is a hell of a lot closer.

      Second, it really depends where you live in a city. I live in Toronto, which is an area that can count as “downtown,” on a street lined with houses and leafy trees and it isn’t the least noisy. AND I live about two blocks up from Little Italy, a district with restaurants, bars, and a couple of clubs.

  25. Does anyone have any tips or ideas for keeping woodpeckers away? Every spring our house walls become a sounding board for those little bastards mating calls by drilling their beaks into our siding and gutters. We’ve tried the fake owl, but that doesn’t seem to do anything. I’m thinking an automated sentry would be best, but a little out of my budget. I like #27’s idea of predator urine, perhaps I’ll go see what google drums up on that.

  26. I get it! And good for you, you seem to have found a solution without harming the rodents (umm birds.) We live in a large wooded area in NH! I would love to tell you all the encounters we have had with misc wildlife. But, like you we have always found solutions that fit both the wildlife and our need for peace! Oh and I agree with the Sion Comment! lol

  27. One of the things we do is take a slingshot and lob a pebble covered in synthetic raccoon urine onto the area if they’re on the roof, otherwise the piss is way too damn smelly.

    I’ve heard good things about the grape flavoring too, and that mace doesn’t affect them.

  28. One of my favorite memories of my ex-wife was when I was tasked to “get rid of, at any means” a nesting pair of pigeons at my in-law’s house. As I lined up to shoot the first pigeon with a pellet pistol, my ex stepped outside, running her mouth, seemingly oblivious to what I was about to do. I said, “you do realize that I am about to shoot this pigeon, right?” She responded, “yeah” and continued her rant. When I pulled the trigger, the wounded pigeon fell from it’s ledge and bounced off the porch roof, landing on my ex’s head and shoulders–wildly flapping it’s wings and slinging blood everywhere. Obviously, she freaked. Now that I am happily divorced from her, this incident ranks as my favorite moment of our relationship.

  29. To be honest, had this pigeon problem happened to me i probably would have gotten so frustrated i would’ve resorted to desperate measures that might be inhumane. And i’m the type of person that is nice to animals, but if something is interrupting my sleep i’d be irrational.

    This is an interesting blog entry on what to keep in mind when trying to get rid of pigeons.

  30. I live in a leafy suburb and plastic owls work just fine. They attract real great horned owls that do discourage the woodpeckers and squirrels just enough for a little peace. Of course you have to like owl hoots to consider it a success.

    I could do without the screech owl though.

  31. A while ago I worked in a place with a large flat roof and a big balcony with big sliding glass doors onto it. Seagulls would nest on the roof every spring. Eventually the chicks would wander around the roof before they could fly and fall onto the balcony. The drop was not enough to kill them so the parent would land on the balcony and go completely crazy when they saw people inside. They would ram the glass doors and shit everywhere (more than usual).

    We found that a combination of super soakers and shooting elastic bands at them before they started nesting did the trick. Its illegal so shoot seagulls here in the uk despite the fact they make the pigeons look good.

  32. it always seems ironic finding these barbed wire things on statures of St. Francis and on churches with said statues. i can understand people’s frustration with pigeons, but i find human beings infinitely more gross. and trying to sleep in Brooklyn with assholes beeping their horns for no apparent reason at 4 and 5 in the morning or listening to the screaming child i experienced last night on an airplane i find far more grievous in nature.

  33. A few years back, when I lived in Jersey City, it turned out that the crawlspace running next to my bedroom was open to the outside, thanks to some crappy original construction combined with the house next door being torn down and rebuilt. Pigeons got in and partied. Fortunately, all we had to do to stop it was have the landlord fix the hole.

  34. Hmmmm I can’t relate, but only because I could sleep through a tornado. Are the eggs good? I would have been tempted to eat them.

    If I liked them I might be tempted to let the birds keep coming back and giving me free eggs.

  35. To the person who comes up with a tried and true method of keeping those motherf’ing gotdamn, nasty furry bastard squirrels from eating every single mother freaking green peach off of my peach tree and leaving the pits on my back porch as a further F U. I will hand deliver a delicious, warm flakey fresh peach pie this summer.

  36. So me and my friend are not alone in throwing pineapples at pidgeons, that at the time were polluting Parc Güell. Never had so much fun.

  37. It’s your property, but personally I like pigeons and other birds.

    One of the main reasons to encourage birds is that they eat insects. Another reason is that they provide cats, dogs, and other domestic animals with a source of supplemental fun and food. Last, but not least, they are edible and given how the economy is still sputtering…

  38. I absolutely HATE pigeons. They carry a disease, which after three years of costly and unpleasant treatment, claimed the life of my cat. If every single pigeon in NYC was destroyed overnight, I would feel no sadness for them.

  39. I had an ongoing run-in with probably 500 seagulls that descended nightly on the neighbouring shopping mall roof. I think the low point was finding myself in an all-night grocery buying frozen Brussels sprouts as casings for homemade hand grenades. (I had already stocked up on firecrackers, but they turned out to be too light to travel the 100 ft without extra weight.) I returned home, drilled out the centre of a frozen sprout, inserted the firework and started lobbing them over. The flock would alight, circle lazily for a few minutes, resume their position and restart that infernal chattering. Madness on my part, I know, but sleep deprivation makes one do strange things.

    Eventually I managed to push the seagulls back to a reasonable distance with the help of a 50mW laser borrowed from the physics department. The wattage was overkill … but commensurate with my frustration. After a few nights of hourly use, the seagulls decided to settle on a distant part of the same roof.

    1. I actually came to ask that very question/see if it had been asked.

      That reminded me that when I was a kid we used to live one apartment above a guy that would use rat traps to catch pigeons and cook them.

  40. Pigeons are a health problem. Architects are the vector. They design in pigeon habitat. When I was a student, Goddard Library (1965) at Clark University, Worcester, Mass had piles of pigeon poop 36″ deep, piled up in crannies and against windows. This building won awards from other architects. Go figure.

    Harold Pomeroy

  41. I can’t muster the dislike for pigeons that Lisa K can. But I do get weary of them sometimes. Every spring a mating pair of pigeons repeatedly tries and repeatedly fails to build a nest on a six-inch wide support beam under the roof overhang of our house. They gather and put down a crazy amount of twigs, but all it takes is one wrong move by either of them on the too-narrow landing and the twigs come tumbling down (into the accumulation of bird crap they shit onto the bay window roof below), forcing them to start over — which they do as if their previous nest never existed. After about the 20th try they finally move on somewhere else.

  42. Pigeons, and most birds, don’t mind chili, so it isn’t a deterrent. In fact, chilis are a treat in parrot chow.

    Pigeons are disgusting to deal with, and squirrels are bad too. I do not want to try to imagine having to deal with seagulls, that makes me want to throw up… eeeuw.

  43. Up here in Toronto, during the summer months, the birds start screaming at 3:30 am. If given a choice between bird noise and an air-raid siren I’ll choose the siren every time: the meaningless, random cacophony produced by birds has got to be amongst the most disgusting noises in the world.

    Pigeons, like racoons, are not, in the ridiculous quantities that they are present in, part of nature in any sense of the word. They are the result of us completely distorting nature by wiping out all of the species that would normally eat them, and also by providing them with endless quantities of garbage to eat.

    And let us preserve a special place in Hell for the people who feed urban pigeons. One of the least charming features of my previous neighbourhood was the presence of the old people dumping out bags of feed for the fat, bloated pigeons. The pigeons had more than enough to eat without this so 100% of this got turned to pigeon crap which then coated the sidewalks to a depth of about an inch.

  44. Shooting at them with paintball guns did the trick for me. I don’t think I ever actually hit one, but I came close enough so many times they got the hint and left for good. My gun was a $30 piece of junk, though, so I’m sure a better gun and/or better shot wouldn’t only take one direct hit to send them packing (and without killing them, which I didn’t mind but at least couldn’t get me in trouble with The Man). The added benefit for me was that if I overshot I wasn’t worried about taking out the next door neighbor’s window or putting holes in their siding (it was a crowded neighborhood.)

  45. Mucking around with birds, bird eggs, or bird nests is against the migratory bird act…. except for 3 species: pidgeons, house sparrows, and european starlings. So you didn’t do anything illegal. Of course, you still have to be humane to them — being inhumane would be against some other law(s).

    But what you did was perfectly legal, contrary to at least one person suggested.

  46. Nice work. I’ve had this issue — pigeons on my fire escape, just outside the bedroom window — for years now. They seem to really only set up shop in nesting season, so I have a high-powered water pistol to make ’em leave frequently, and have taken to going out and removing nests once they have eggs in them. I also feel bad about the egg part, but here’s the thing: I let them have babies once and baby pigeons don’t coo — they *scream.* If you think the cooing is irritating, you never want to hear baby pigeons calling for mama.

    I have spikes on my air conditioner (a frequent sex spot/hiding place) but I think they’re not legal on fire escapes, so I’m sort of stuck. But I like what you did and the shiny moving suggestion has given me an idea….

  47. Starlings —

    They build nests in my soffits, haul Pampas grass into the nooks and drop it on the roof, in the gutters, on the ground. They shit along the side of the house, the windows, on my truck.

    I have a shotgun and a pellet rifle, and space to legally use them. As soon as I open the doors to take a shot, they disappear. When I close the doors they come back.

    Starlings have no predators in the US. Some clown in NYC brought them into the country from the UK — because he wanted to have every bird appearing in Shakespeare’s works.

    Starlings will “dive bomb” you while you’re walking, riding down the road. They swoop and dive at you. They harass other birds.

    My only consolation is the realization that they never asked to be starlings. I expect pigeons are in the same boat, although they’re damn fine fliers, and did a heroic job in WWI getting messages across the battlefield.

  48. This is right up there with my blue jay problem, just across the bay! The little rats nest in the honeysuckle on the parking strip, and dive bomb anyone who comes near, then screech at all hours outside of windows, not to mention scaring off the other birds. Everything I’ve read about them talks about excellent parents and one next a year, but we’ve had multiple years of the first nest dieing off from neglect, and attracting raccoons. Anyone know how to get rid of them, before they scalp me?

  49. Most people forget that one of the reasons pigeons were brought over originally was so they could be used as a potential food source. For recipes, look toward Egyptian cuisine.

  50. Every time boingboing loads, and I see this pigeon thumbnail, I get shocked thinking it’s a p_nis. Really, not joking or trolling.

    1. I have the same reaction. And you’re allowed to say penis. Or dick. Or cock. Or man-missile. Or whatever.

    2. Every time boingboing loads, and I see this pigeon thumbnail, I get shocked thinking it’s a p_nis.

      No shit! I keep switching between seeing a glans, a diseased thumbnail, and an eyeball à la Un Chien Andalou.

  51. At first I thought this was posted under a “cooking” heading, disappointed to learn other wise.

    I believe the culinary name for pigeon is squab.

  52. My husband and I would be delighted to hear birds mating and nesting by our bedroom, and we would consider the house as much theirs as ours.

    aw, how enrivonmentally friendly of you

  53. Having a hungry chick screeching five feet from my reading chair activated me. Spikes: expensive. Because the ledge was a door lintel eight inches under the fire escape landing, it was ideal protection for the nest. Solution: plastic chicken fencing. I cut it to drape over the fire escape landing past the top of the ledge provided by the door lintel. They squirmed through a few times; I chased them out with a broom, then secured the sections of fencing more tightly with twist-ties. I am pigeon-free!

  54. Aren’t pigeons supposed to be really tasty? That nest was like a really delicious gift from nature. Like a window-side mine of lunch.

  55. I had to move house because of pigeons on the next-door-neighbour’s roof making a racket from 5am non-stop until the sun went down. After two years of benig woken before dawn by their awful coo-ing I just couldn’t take it any more.

    I can sleep through every other kind of bird, but not those hellish creatures.

    Congratulations on ridding yourself of those horrible pests!

  56. I have a love-hate relationship with pidgeons. Their sounds don’t bother me, but their scratching sure does. They are some of the most amazing-looking birds when in flight, but their crap actually dissolves sandstone. Living in a city where most historic buildings are built of just that, the little buggers are becoming a costly annoyance. For the city council anyway.

    They used to annoy me much more when I was still living with my parents, because they kept nesting on the balcony, trying to nest on the 2″ ledge above my window, you name it. The situation had the potential to get really bad, when suddenly: Peregrine Falcons. Everywhere.

    Nature vs. Nature, 1:0.

  57. All you have to do is strew a few rubber snakes around, and change their coiling positions every few weeks. Owl whirligigs function rather well, too.

    But good grief – it’s a little family just trying to raise their babies and they don’t have a cliff handy to build their nests upon. You could have waited until they hatched and left to pigeon-proof your dwelling.

  58. I have to say, I’m team pigeon.
    Our backyard is raided with pigeons every morning when we feed our dog. My husband hates them and threatens to kill them all the time. I am a major animal lover and told him killing small animals is ground for divorce. :-) We now feed our dog on the other side of the yard to avoid pigeon poop getting on our patio.
    I am happy to hear you didn’t kill them (although hearing you took their eggs and put them in a zip-lock bag made me cringe a little . . . poor pigies.)

  59. Yeah, I guess getting some earplugs was far too inconvenient compared to this elaborate crap. But you don’t like them, and you got pooped on! Twice! Oh, the suffering!

    I do eat meat, and I’m not very granola, but I also try to leave urban wildlife alone given that my species is destroying habitats at a frenetic pace. But there are plenty of very tough, very unsentimental people here to tell you how anyone who stands up for an animal is a freakshow, so I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled adulation.

  60. I have barn swallows that nest under the eaves on my porch deck, and — can you believe it? — in the barn.

    Nests are mud/straw and get re-used year after year. The swallows under the porch I can watch from the living room. It’s interesting to watch the parents care for the nest, feed the babies. Then at about three weeks, the babies start to fledge. Once they learn to fly, they stick around the house most of the summer.

  61. The nearby Bart station had a long siege with the flying rats. They had spikes on top of their destination signs and the pigeons used them to hold the twigs in place for their nests. Some company came in with sound effects of raptor calls. Total failure. There are some fake owls whose heads move in the wind. They didn’t try them.
    We had mourning doves who make the most pathetic nests ever seen. They used a hanging flower pot by our front door for a nest and came back several years after that.

  62. I guess I just don’t see the hate for pigeons.
    I live in Manhattan, and have pigeons hanging out on my fire escape, and I’m just fine with it.

    There are FAR worse pests than pigeons.

  63. pigeons can’t shit while flying, so if you just take care not to walk under them when they sit somewhere you should be fine :)

  64. I never see pigeons were I live so it’s a highlight of any trip to see them scratching about on the ground. I love how they nonchalantly walk away when you approach. Not a bit of panic to them. I have pictures of pigeons from several countries in Asia and South America. I love that the pigeon is universal.

  65. There is a motion-activated sprayer that might work. Google “motion activated water.”

    The building I work in was built in 1896 and had a slate roof with a bell tower that was actually a special pigeon entrance to the crawlspace. There turned out to be three dumpsters worth of pigeon droppings and carcasses that were removed by men in moon suits. I pointed out to them that gardeners would pay plenty for the guano, but when they offered it all to me I politely declined.

    Filthy disgusting boids.

  66. I love birds, but pigeons are evil. Anyone who disagrees has been fortunate and had far pleasanter experiences than most.

    Carrier pigeons are a different beast from the (flying rat, gutter eagle, sewer falcon, turd with feathers) common pigeon, and they are now extinct.

    Seagulls are also evil, especially the ones who steal food right off your plate when you dine al fresco.

    Canada geese? Don’t get me started…..Migrate, you damned big bastards!

  67. Man, I totally sympathize. I’m a nice person, but I seriously hate birds outside my window in the morning.

    When I was in Delhi last year I stayed in a b&b that had incredibly irritating pigeon issues, they cooed all damn night and walked around on the window a/c unit, making a metallic echo in my room. UGH. If it’d been my house, I’d have done the same as you.

  68. birds can cause significant damage to expensive equipment on the roof, such as air conditioning systems, and their debris can clog drains and lead to possibly catastrophic losses.

  69. I’ve had pigeons nesting next to one of my windows ever since I moved into my place in 2007. I’ve never and will never remove their nest, let alone remove their living eggs and destroy them. I actually enjoy their sounds and realize they’re part of a bigger ecosystem that we all share. Stinks you got rid of them, but you are entitled to your own opinion and I respect. But thanks for not using the poison and you should look more into pigeons, they’re quite the bird that wound up getting a bum rap. They’re actually rock doves and they live on the edge of cliffs, so that’s why you don’t see them in trees.

  70. Finally, the Ultrasonic Bird Repeller worked to keep the bird away! Over a few days the number of bird visits decreased and then stopped altogether. You can barely hear the repeller on the lowest frequency but it is out front of the house and doesn’t bother us.

  71. I was told (Im in England) if pigeon laid the egg (and its sitting proudly on it) its ‘illegal’ to move it!! :~

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