Banishing pigeons from your balcony – what is OK and what isn't

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Pigeons tend to bring frustration rather than joy when they are on your balcony. For one simple reason: Whether they are briefly perching or stay a while, one thing they like to do when having a rest is relieve themselves. Read on to find out how to banish the birds without harming them.

When a visitor becomes a nuisance

Many bird lovers like to attract beautiful little songbirds onto their balcony using bird feeders, helping to keep the feathered visitors fed during the winter while enjoying the chance to watch them at the same time. Pigeons, however, are rarely such a welcome guest as their invasion has consequences: damaged plants and traces of excrement as far as the eye can see – not how a cosy open-air oasis is meant to look. Their collective cooing can also really get on your nerves. Some of the birds may even carry diseases – so there are plenty of reasons why you are better off banishing pigeons from your balcony if their visits get out of control.

Injuring or killing pigeons – never the solution

Let's get one thing clear; despite all this resentment towards pigeons on balconies, these uninvited tenants are living creatures who simply don't know any better. Chasing the birds away using force in a manner that could cause them an injury is neither justified nor allowed. Instead, try one of the numerous other measures available to you to successfully tackle the plague of birds.


Visual measures to get pigeons off your balcony

Try to drive the birds away using various visual techniques. The birds are generally thought to be quite clever and fearless, so visual measures will only work in the short term. You should therefore regularly move the pigeon scaring device to a new position. This confuses the birds.

  • Fake birds. Who is afraid of the vicious raven? Pigeons. Place a plastic version of the pigeon's enemy on the balcony to scare the birds off. This also works with hawks, owls and buzzards. Always remember to reposition the pigeon scaring device from time to time. If you have an outdoor cat or a dog, even better. The birds like to keep a safe distance from pets and will therefore stay well away from your balcony
  • Hang CDs. A cool retro look, with a purpose. Thread the CDs onto a fishing line. When you hang the mobile on your balcony, if all goes to plan then the reflective surfaces moving in the wind will scare the pigeons and they will fly away
  • Aluminium foil. Similar principle to the CDs. Cut long strips of aluminium foil and hang them on the balcony. The fluttering strips reflecting the light will confuse the pests
  • Glitter balls. You can also create light reflections to scare away the birds using shiny balls made from glass or plastic. Attached to a wooden stick, these useful defence systems can simply be stuck in a flower bed or plant pot
  • Windmills. These contraptions make uncontrolled movements and this scares away the pigeons. 

Acoustic and haptic systems to get pigeons off your balcony

Acoustic defence systems are usually only effective for a limited time. Pigeons quickly get used to noises and are then no longer disturbed by them. You should therefore constantly vary the tone to ensure that this method is successful. Dog barks, cries from birds of prey or loud bangs, which sound like they are random, are good examples of effective noises. However, it's likely that your neighbours will also not particularly enjoy these noises – this measure must not degenerate into a noise nuisance.

Haptic systems offer more promise.

  • Nets. Although these do ruin the view, the upside is that pigeons will no longer be able to rest on your balcony.
  • Spikes. These are not just found on sports shoes worn by athletes – they are also an effective pigeon defence system. You can buy spikes in DIY shops and attach them to your balcony, preventing the birds from landing. The disadvantage is that your balcony no longer looks so nice. You can now also get spike borders, which are made from plastic. These can be attached to your balcony railings – if don't mind the slightly military-like view.

Removing pigeon nests from your balcony

If pigeons start to nest on your balcony, you should remove the nests quickly – and always wear gloves and a face mask when doing so. Otherwise, a whole clan could settle on your balcony and it will become more and more difficult to get rid of them. It's tricky if the birds are already breeding. In this case, you should seek help from a professional. It costs between 100 and 150 euro to call out a specialist.


Protecting your birdhouses from pigeons

Back to the issue of birdhouses: these shelters intended for members of the tit family and other small birds are also popular with pigeons, who steal the food away from the smaller birds during the winter. You should therefore protect the source of food from unwelcome visitors. All you need to do is to run a piece of string or wire through the middle of the opening to the house. The small birds will still be able to get into the house, but the entrance will be blocked to pigeons. Hanging bird-feeder rings do not generally need extra protection because pigeons are too big to perch on them and feed.

Prohibited measures

You must not kill the animals. There are also other measures that you must avoid at all costs:

  • Defence systems that may cause injuries are not permitted.
  • You must never poison the animals or put them at risk by using corrosive or chemical substances. Such substances may irritate the feathers or cause them to stick together, causing the birds pain.
If none of your attempts to scare the pigeons away works and you live in a rented apartment, you may have the right to a rent reduction. "The landlord has an obligation to implement pigeon defence measures in the event of an infestation", explains Ulrich Ropertz from the Deutscher Mieterbund (German tenants' association) in German magazine "Focus". The courts agree. In a judgement by Pforzheim District Court in 2000, for example, it was determined that pigeons nesting in front of the windows substantially reduced the apartment's value in use. As a result, the claimant was awarded a rent reduction of 30%.