HABITAT

LEGAL/FINANCIAL

Ask Habitat: Help! How Do We Fix Our Pigeon Problem?

New York City

What to Do About Pigeons

March 2, 2015A READER ASKS: I live in a midsize co-op in Brooklyn. We have a huge pigeon problem. There are pigeon droppings everywhere. It's not just unsightly; there's so much of it now that I'm concerned about it becoming a health hazard. As far as anyone can tell, nobody in the building seems to be feeding them — we do have a policy in place against doing so. But is there anything the building can do to fix this problem and make the pigeons go away? 

HABITAT ANSWERS: Pigeons find window ledges, rooftops, bridges, and warehouses to be ideal substitutes for the natural ledges in cliff sides that they have always used as roosting, nesting and sheltering sites. The good news is that there are some simple things that co-ops and condos can do to keep birds from their buildings — and the best part is that they are humane.

Stop Feeding the Pigeons

It's good that nobody in your building seems to be feeding the pigeons, but that doesn't mean that the building is not unintentionally doing so. Pigeons are going to hang around places where they can help themselves to discarded food and even crumbs. Keep the sidewalk clean and outdoor garbage tidy. Cleaning regularly will help discourage pigeons from gathering and setting up nests in your building.

Prevent Roosting and Nesting

Pigeons look for flat surfaces for roosting and nesting, so the building has to take steps to make flat surfaces unavailable to them. With the correct application of the right product, roosting structures can be rendered virtually pigeon-free. There are a variety of devices that can be used to change flat nesting spots into inaccessible spaces and prevent pigeons from roosting in areas where they’re not wanted.

The Humane Society recommends the following products, all of which can be ordered from birdbarrier.com or 800-NO-BIRDS.com:

  • Attach wood or metal sheathing (Birdslides) at a 45- to 60-degree angle over window ledges and other flat surfaces to keep pigeons from landing.
  • Install "bird wires" to keep pigeons off ledges, railings, awnings, and rooftops.
  • Where the problem is more serious, consider using strips that give mild electric shocks.
  • Use netting to keep pigeons out of large areas.

Netting is probably your building's best bet — it's not only humane and effective but also a lot more cost effective.

Never use polybutylene gel, adds the Humane Society. Sticky gel repellents made from polybutene can harm all birds and any animal that comes in contact with it. The HSUS strongly recommends that these dangerous repellents be avoided at all costs. The feathers of any bird that comes into contact with the dense, sticky gel will become damaged, interfering with their ability to fly and to stay water-proofed. These gel repellents are not selective. Other birds are likely to land on the gel, get stuck, and die. The polybutene gels are particularly harmful to smaller species.

Planned Pigeonhood?

As year-round nesters, a pair of pigeons can raise a dozen or more young each year. If pigeons have plenty of food and space, their numbers can quickly increase. Fortunately, a bird contraceptive is available that limits growth of pigeon flocks. Ovocontrol bird food is "birth control" for pigeons. Innolytics, LLC

Known as OvoControl, pigeon contraception comes in the form of a kibble-type food, which causes birds that eat it regularly to lay eggs that fail to develop. Combined with exclusion and other humane measures to discourage roosting and nesting, OvoControl effectively reduces hatching rates in pigeons, thereby limiting flock sizes and diminishing problems associated with large numbers of pigeons.

Talk to Your Property Manager

Whatever you do, and regardless of how frustrating the problem, do not resort to poisoning them. In New York, it's illegal to kill pigeons. Your property manager can suggest viable options for your building and then present those to the board for a final decision. Your board should be involved in addressing any bird-related problems, because the solution will usually affect the building’s exterior. 

 

For more, see our Site Map or join our Archive >>

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?