Your Guide to Legal and Humane Pigeon Control Options

When it comes to pigeon control, it’s essential to ensure that you’re using safe and humane prevention and deterrence options. Here are some tips for choosing.

Your Guide to Legal and Humane Pigeon Control Options

The problem with pigeons is population growth and the amount they poop. Cities often have a pigeon problem because mated pairs have an average of 13 babies yearly.

A single pigeon can make pounds of droppings per year. Imagine how many droppings a more substantial flock could make. Understandably, citizens want to get rid of pigeons.

The issues lie in how to perform pigeon control. Killing pigeons is inhumane and solves nothing. You need safe, humane methods to resolve your pigeon problem.

It can be tricky to find safer ways to get rid of pigeons. Below is a guide to finding legal and humane pigeon control alternatives.

Why Is Pigeon Control a Big Deal?

The issue many people have with pigeons is many people find the birds dirty and unclean. The birds spread diseases like histoplasmosis and psittacosis. Histoplasmosis comes from a fungus growing inside pigeon feces.

People are exposed to this fungal illness when inhaling during cleaning droppings. Psittacosis (or parrot fever) typically affects parrots-like birds such as parakeets and cockatiels but occasionally affects parrots.

Psittacosis comes from inhaling dried, airborne fecal particulates. Fear of these diseases is understandable, but it has been blown somewhat out of proportion.

It is rare to contract an illness from pigeons. You must expose yourself to a considerable amount of pigeon poop to contract histoplasmosis. Psittacosis is extremely rare – only affecting minute amounts of people annually.

However, pigeon control does tie back to poop – or rather, the damage it causes to its surroundings. Pigeon droppings contain a lot of uric acid, which is highly corrosive.

This acidic substance can damage paint, metal, and concrete. Do you remember when we said one pigeon can produce pounds of droppings yearly?

Imagine if that number was increased to hundreds; getting rid of pigeons is vital to preserving properties.

What are Safe and Humane Pigeon Control Methods?

You may wonder what we mean by “safe” in this context. Safe refers to any method that is not harmful to pigeons, other animals, humans, or the environment. “Humane” is a little more complicated.

Some would argue humane means using methods that don’t cause abundant suffering, which technically includes killing the birds. Others say humane means methods that do not involve any sort of harm – including killing.

The disagreement lies in the fact that it’s possible to kill an animal without causing needless pain. Yet, it is possible to prevent the birds from roosting in areas without harming or killing them.

We will discuss potentially not-so-humane methods like poisoning and then shooting first. Afterward, we’ll talk about non-harmful ways to get rid of pigeons.

Can I Poison Pigeons?

You’ve probably heard poisoning pigeons is an accepted way to remove them and wish to opt for that method. Poison (or avicides) is a viable option to get rid of pigeons in the United States, but there are pros and cons.

Some might wonder, “What’s the big deal about poisoning a few birds?” Well, that depends on if you consider poison humane.

The options below are all fatal, which may not be to your tastes. Even if killing pigeons isn’t an issue, you may care how the substance does the job. Some avicides are more humane than others in how they dispatch the birds.

Here is a quick rundown of known poisons:

  • Antifreeze
  • DRC-1339
  • Avitrol

Antifreeze technically isn’t an avicide because it’s not specifically for killing avian species. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is sweet tasting and will attract animals – including birds.

The substance’s highly-attractive taste is part of the issue. You can’t legally use antifreeze for pigeon control because of the toxic liquid’s indiscriminate nature. There’s no way to ensure you’ll only kill pigeons with antifreeze.

Many may also consider antifreeze inhumane because the birds suffocate to death.


The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed DRC-1339 to control bird populations. It kills pigeons via uremic poisoning (or acute kidney injury) and congestion of major organs (reduced blood flow to organs).

The USDA Wildlife Service limits the usage of DRC-1339, and its most common use is to protect crops from birds. The poison is said to kill birds slowly and nonviolently. However, affected birds can be treated.


Avitrol has the dubious honor of being the only registered commercial poison within the US to act as a bird repellent. You can use Avitrol across the US through pest control applicators and with restricted pesticide licenses.

Avitrol is technically a toxicant, not an avicide. Its primary function is to frighten pigeons, starlings, blackbirds, crows, sparrows, and house sparrows.

Despite this, many consider it an avicide because it’s fatal to pigeons. The toxicant contains 4-aminopyrimidine, an oral toxicant that affects the central and motor nervous system.

The birds are scared off by seeing one of their flock suffer convulsions and eventually die.

The use of this toxicant is controversial for three reasons:

  • It affects all vertebrate animals
  • It traumatizes anyone that sees the pigeons suffering convulsions
  • It doesn’t solve the issue of flocking pigeons
    • The birds tend to return to their roost

How Does Pigeon Poison Work?

Pigeon poisons get mixed into grains that the birds eat. Larger grains, like corn, are preferred because it lowers the number of pigeons exposed to the bait.

Tactile poisons (spread by skin contact) are controversial and restricted because it’s easy to harm large groups of birds, other animals, and people this way.

For example, fenthion was a popular choice to get rid of pigeons and other pest birds. However, fenthion has harmful effects on humans and animals through ingestion.

The chemical is classified as a Restricted Use Product by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) due to its toxicity.

Pros and Cons of Using Poisons

Now that you know what kinds of poisons you can use, here are the pros and cons when choosing poisons. As far as pros go, they are cheap and immediate.

It’s easy to see the effect of avicides because you have tangible proof they’re working – or so it may appear.

The disadvantage to using poisons is that it’s difficult to prevent other birds from consuming tainted bait. There are also legal and social ramifications. Remember, antifreeze works, but it is illegal for pigeon control.

DRC-1339 and Avitrol aren’t illegal, but non-targeted birds are still at risk. Avitrol is particularly problematic because it affects all vertebrates like other animals and children.

Using poisons may also invoke public rage at the thought of killing animals. The outlook upon pigeons and the environment, in general, has changed.

We’re a long way from 1966 when these birds were first labeled “rats with wings” by the New York City parks commissioner. People are questioning why pigeons are hated as much as they are.

You may not face legal repercussions for certain avicides, but the public outcry won’t look too good.

Can I Shoot Pigeons?

Shooting pigeons is an option if poisoning is more of a headache than you’re willing to take on. But there are caveats. You cannot shoot or harm migratory species.

Homing (or messenger/carrier) pigeons are birds bred to find their way home from far-off areas. Homing pigeons are a protected species. Harming or hunting them is penalized.

The pigeons this entire article refers to are “feral pigeons.” Feral pigeons, also called city doves or street pigeons, are the ones that roost in towns and tall buildings.

You can legally hunt feral pigeons anywhere within the United States without a permit.

Shooting pigeons is a simple way to rid yourself of pest birds, but it’s not considered humane as shooting is a painful way to kill these animals.

There are also legal problems to contend with. Most states list firearm discharge near residential areas as unlawful. You risk harming people and other animals if they’re nearby while shooting the pigeons.

Damaging buildings is also a concern. Your insurance may not cover firearm damages or injuries caused by attempting to remove a pigeon problem.

Humane Pigeon Control Methods

We’ve discussed the less-humane ways to remove pigeons; now let’s talk about ways that won’t harm the birds. One way to get rid of pigeons is bird exclusion.

Bird exclusion involves creating barriers that prevent avians from returning to an area to roost. Exclusion is best practiced in areas where nests already exist. Netting or mesh is a non-harmful way to keep birds from nesting.

All it takes is draping the mesh over the spots pigeons like to nest or perch. Angled sheaths are another method of bird exclusion. These are slippery, slopped, angled products placed on flat, narrow roosting areas.

An angled sheath comprises three slats that form a right triangle and are best suited for ledges, eves, and windowsills.

The 90-degree angle sits against the ledge while the 40 to 60-degree angle faces outward to keep the pigeons at bay.

What are Pigeon Deterrents?

A pigeon deterrent is a device that makes roosting and nesting areas unappealing to the birds. You’re not blocking the space but rather making it uncomfortable enough that the pigeons won’t go near it to begin with.

Certain pigeon deterrents can double as exclusion methods. For example, reflective surfaces will make pigeons leave areas and keep them from setting up nests.

Reflective surfaces do a good job of deterring pigeons because the light messes with their eyes. A trick to getting rid of pigeons is finding where they like to gather and applying waterproof reflective tape.

It doesn’t matter what color you use as long as it reflects light. Old CDs are a viable substitution. You can hang them from your balcony to dissuade the birds from perching there.

Another effective bird repellent is certain smells. Pigeons don’t enjoy strong scents, so smells like cinnamon or hot peppers will render areas unlivable. If pigeons are already in a location, the sent will drive them away.

You may have heard of the “false owl” bird-repellent strategy. The idea is to set up a fake owl to scare the pigeons away, but it doesn’t work for long.

These birds are smart and will figure out the owl isn’t real when they realize it never moves.

Remove Food Sources

Pigeons won’t likely roost where there’s no food. Always keep outside trash cans covered and remove traces of food like crumbs and dropped foods from gatherings and visitors. Pigeons will also get into pet food.

Fallen fruits and berries from trees and bushes are excellent sources of food for the birds. Don’t leave them on the ground for the pigeons to pick up.

You mustn’t feed pigeons. These birds have an incredible memory and will remember you were a source of food.


OvoControl is a form of pigeon control that sterilizes laid eggs. The birth control is safe for the birds to consume and the pieces of kibble are large enough that most other birds won’t eat it.

OvoControl is pricy but effective for long-term pigeon control. It’s approved by the EPA and the Humane Society of the United States.

You will need a permit to use this avian birth control in Puerto Rico, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.

Why Use Human Pigeon Control?

Killing pigeons is largely ineffective. Removing some of the population doesn’t prevent other pigeons from replacing the ones you killed previously.

Bird exclusion and pigeon deterrents remove birds from roosting areas and keep them from returning. It’s usually best practice to opt for exclusion and deterring whenever possible because it is more effective.

If you want more humane pigeon control methods, contact Pegasus Pest Control today! We will take care of your pigeon problem safely and efficiently.

Your Guide to Legal and Humane Pigeon Control Options