Killing pigeons by poisoning them - good or bad?
Poison is a cheap and easy way to tackle pigeon problems. Although the use of poison is highly successful in getting rid of pest pigeons, the chemical ingredients used can pose a potential threat to other animals and wildlife.
Dealing with bird problems such as pigeons in urban areas is a constant challenge. Whether you are protecting commercial or public buildings or even your family home; when pest pigeons choose to roost or rest on your property, boat, car port and farmland; chances are that they will cause serious structural damage.
Below we’ll explain how to get rid of pigeons permanently using poison and will discuss whether these toxicants are safe to use.
Why we need to get rid of pigeons
Pigeons create an excessive amount of feces, which not only look unsightly, but due to its acidity can cause plants and flowers to die and metals to corrode. Pigeon poop can also contaminate grains and other produce farmed for food sources, which ultimately ends up on our table.
Pigeons are also carriers of over 60 different types of diseases including histoplasmosis, a respiratory disease that is caused by inhaling fungal spores, found in pigeon droppings.
Is it legal in America to kill pigeons with poison?
In America, pigeons are not protected by state or federal law. Whilst the Migratory Bird Treaty Act 1918 protects native wild birds (making it illegal to kill them or remove their nests), pigeons are considered non-native and quite frankly a pest.
Before you do consider using poison as a means to get rid of pigeons, you should check with your local animal welfare department to see if the use of avicides is legal. Individual states may have their own laws concerning the poisoning of pigeons, with some allowing it freely whilst others consider it to be a form of animal cruelty.
How does pigeon poison work?
Poisons usually come in pellet or grain form and are generally scattered in well-known areas where flocks of pigeons come to feed. Sometimes avicides are mixed in with normal food in order for pigeons to feed unsuspectingly – although in general pigeons are scavengers and will eat anything!
Avicides are acutely toxic and work by attacking and impairing the birds’ nervous systems. Once the poison has been ingested, the pigeons soon become disoriented, exhibit erratic flight control and suffer violent convulsions before resulting in fatality.
Pros of using poison to kill pigeons
The low price of pigeon poison and the success rates are the main advantages for using this method of inhumane pest control. The disadvantages and threats posed to surrounding wildlife, animals and pets more than outweigh these benefits and in our opinion, we would highly recommend looking for alternative methods of pigeon control instead.
Cons of using poison to kill pigeons
Usually when it comes to assessing pest control, the benefits outweigh the cons, but unfortunately when it comes to avicides, the side effects are too extreme to ignore.
Firstly, just like any form of poison, once the bird has digested it, the result is lethal. This is all well and good if the pigeon dies in an obvious place where it can easily be discarded, but often the carcass will remain unnoticed for a number of days until a pungent stench alerts you to its presence.
Difficult to reach and detect, you’ll need a strong stomach and a good pair of gloves to dispose of the body. This is fine if it is just the odd bird, but chances are you will be dealing with a flock of pigeons.
Don’t forget that pigeons also carry parasites and diseases, so you will need to be extra vigilant when exposing yourself to the carcasses.
Avicides also have many repercussions. The first is that it is difficult to control exactly who takes the bait and there is a chance that this may result in the death of an untargeted animal. And, even if the pigeon does eat the poison, their dead body could be consumed by other wildlife, causing secondary poisoning in the process.
What are the main ingredients?
When purchasing poison, look out for the active ingredients they contain. Below we have detailed the most common forms of avicide components:
This form of poison usually comes in treated grain form. The idea behind this is that you feed them normal grains, so they get used to the taste and texture before replacing it with poison. Alphachloralose makes the pigeon feel like they are in a stupor-state which ultimately leads them to death.
This poison contains 4-aminopyridine, which attacks the pigeon’s central nervous system. It causes convulsions which affects their flying ability, causing them to fall and flap before plummeting to their death.
This type of poison is mainly administered to pigeons via inhalation or oral consumption. It is a tasteless poison that can be mixed in with their feeds or dissolved in water. Thallium induces nausea, vomiting and pain, before ultimately leading to death.
What foods are poisonous to pigeons?
If you are worried about secondary poisoning, then you may seek natural alternatives. But be warned, there are very few foods that are effective enough to get rid of pigeons for good. Below we list a few store cupboards items that you could try:
Some people believe that dry rice can kill pigeons. The idea being that as the rice is digested it soaks up liquid and expands considerably, causing the pigeons stomach to balloon. Unfortunately, dry rice is unlikely to do much more than make the pigeon feel uncomfortable causing them to regurgitate it all back up.
It is true that too much salt is bad for you and the same can be said for pigeons, leading to a host of health problems including excessive thirst, dehydration and kidney dysfunction. It is unlikely, however, that a pigeon will eat enough salt to result in death.
Raw, dry beans can be extremely harmful to pigeons as when left uncooked the beans contain a poison called hemagglutinin which is very toxic to birds. Just like the other ingredients above, an extremely large quantity would have to be consumed before it had any real effect on a pigeon.
What home remedies keeps pigeons away?
There are many home remedies that you can try to keep pigeons off your property, although it is unlikely that they will work on their own. Instead we would recommend trying these techniques alongside other pest control methods such as bird spikes, bird nets, decoys or trapping.
Pigeons hate landing on anything sticky which is why spreading honey on places that pigeons like to perch can be a good deterrent. But be warned that sickly sweet substances like this may attract other unwanted pests like ants, flies or even rats.
Generous amounts of black pepper, chilli, or cinnamon, when placed in bags around your property can prevent pigeons from visiting as they find the smells overwhelming.
Pigeons dislike dogs and the feelings are mutual when it comes to cats who love nothing more than chasing them out of your yard.
Alternative methods for dealing with pigeons
If you are having problems with pigeons, then rather than rely on powerful poisons we would strongly recommend using other avian exclusion methods. Proven to be just as successful, but much more humane, anti-bird netting, once installed, can be used to keep pest birds away from a property, roofs, orchards or large buildings and require very little maintenance.
If you are having problems with pigeons along the ridge of a roof, up high in the eaves or even on a windowsill, then installing bird spikes on these surfaces will prevent them from landing.
Bird sound deterrents are also popular as they replicate the sounds of hawks and falcons, which are well known predatory birds to pigeons. Upon hearing these distress calls, these feathery foes take flight and flee.
Inflatable scarecrows are another highly effective technique for scaring pigeons away in both urban and rural settings. Designed to create an element of surprise, inflatable scarecrows fill with air and pop up at random, to frighten pest pigeons away.
Other ways to get rid of pigeons, but in a less humane way, include trapping and shooting. Caged contraptions are considered the most effective form of pigeon control, and both live and lethal traps are readily available to buy in most hardware stores.
Although you will need a basic hunting license to shoot pigeons, it is legal to do so in America. We do not condone it as a sport, but as a way to protect both property and crops it can be a necessary means to an end.
Although people have been poisoning pigeons for decades with relative success, where food sources are readily available there will always be flocks of pest birds. Therefore, we need to find ways in which to control them without affecting other animals and wildlife.
We honestly believe that the use of poison for getting rid of pigeons is becoming a thing of the past, as new methods of avian control offer more effective solutions. Read our blogs on bird pest control for more information.