How to get rid of pigeons & starlings

Updated November 21, 2016

Pigeons have become pests in many urban areas. They make a mess of doorways, windowsills and the ground around buildings. Before attempting an eradication program, property owners should know that the most effective program is not killing the birds; that course of action will only bring more birds. Starlings are a non-native, invasive species in the lower 48 states. They steal the nesting sites of native birds and kill their young. While the birds do not have any federal protection, they may be protected by local bird sanctuary ordinances.

Avoid the use of fake owls. Pigeons understand that an inanimate object is no threat to them and will not be frightened away by something that doesn't move.

Opt for roost modification over lethal control. Pigeons are highly intelligent, highly evolved to coexist with humans and will easily replenish their numbers should a small number of them be killed. PiCAS (Pigeon Control Advisory Service) USA reports that culling pigeons is, in fact, the largest contributor to the growth of the pigeon population. Killing pigeons simply removes a small amount of competition for the food source.

Install anti-roosting spikes. Spikes can be installed on almost any surface that pigeons may frequent: gutters, television antennae, windowsills, on pipework and areas under a gable. Anti-roosting spikes can be unattractive, but they are the most effective method of pigeon control, according to PiCAS (Pigeon Control Advisory Service). Spikes are installed on a surface with the use of silicone gel. The process can easily be completed by the homeowner and doesn't require the use of a contractor. The spikes are easy to remove or relocate and have a long lifespan.

Contact a wildlife rehabilitator to remove any chicks that you discover before installing anti-roosting spikes.

Force the birds to disperse, and discourage them from landing in the future with loud noises; banging on pots and pans is an effective method for starling dispersal, as are fireworks, alarms, etc.

Learn to recognise a starling, its eggs and its nest. Starlings are often confused with the common grackle (blackbird) and the male brownheaded cowbird. Grackles are much larger than starlings---starlings are the size of a fat robin---and cowbirds have a conspicuous brown head. Starlings are cavity-nesters and their nests are often messy and composed of many different types of materials such as feathers, grasses, bits of fabric, etc. Starling eggs resemble a robin's eggs but the starling's are slightly smaller and darker and there are usually five to seven eggs per clutch.

Remove starling nests from bluebird boxes and purple martin houses as soon as you detect them and preferably before the birds have a chance to lay their eggs. Consider moving the box to discourage nesting birds from returning the following season. Starlings are very faithful to their nesting sites and will return for up to three seasons.

Remove water sources and foraging areas. Without food or water, starlings are unlikely to stick around.

Prevent the birds from entering structures by fitting any openings with hardware cloth. Look under eaves and for open roof vents and cover the holes. Install a vent guard over bathroom exhaust vents and dryer vents.


Remember that there are many removal options that do not involve killing pigeons or starlings.

Things You'll Need

  • Anti-roosting spikes
  • Silicone gel
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About the Author

Based in Fort Collins, Colo., Dannah Swift has been writing since 2009. She writes about green living, careers and the home garden. Her writing has appeared on various websites. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature from the University of New Hampshire and is currently pursuing a certificate in paralegal studies.