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How to keep pigeons away from bird feeders?
By Ark Wildlife
4th January 2022
Last Updated: 13th March 2023
Most of us are happy to feed all the birds who visit our garden, and that includes our pigeon friends. However, if the pigeons are discouraging other birds from feeding, then we need to think carefully about what feeders we have in our garden and what food we are putting out so that all birds are included.
Do pigeons scare off small birds?
As pigeons are much bigger than many of the garden birds in the UK, they can intimidate smaller birds. Pigeons are not aggressive birds and they won’t attack small birds, but smaller birds will simply avoid the feeders with pigeons around.
How do I get rid of pigeons at bird feeders without scaring other birds?
There are a number of ways in which you can deter pigeons humanely so that the other garden birds can access the food. Take a look at the ideas below.
Fit seed trays on the bird feeders
Pigeons often are attracted to gardens due to the seed that drops down onto the ground from the bird feeders and bird table. This problem is solved by bird seed trays that fit onto the bottom of the feeders. You can also buy feeders with a built-in seed tray. The seed catchers reduce the amount of seed dropped, thereby reducing the possibility of an easy meal for pigeons.
The trays also mean there is less of a mess in your garden for you to clear up, and less wastage, as any seeds that drop into the tray can simply be tipped back into the feeder. This will also reduce the possibility of opportunistic rats looking for dropped bird food.
Another way to stop pigeons looking for fallen seed is to put some mesh or rocks at the bottom of the bird table or underneath the bird feeders. They will not want to faff with looking for seed between mesh or rocks and will not be able to grip the uneven surfaces.
Use bird feeder cages
A bird feeder cage can either surround a hanging bird feeder, or a ground feeder cage can surround a ground feeder. The holes on the cage allow small birds to hop through to access the food, but are too small for pigeons.
Divide and conquer
If you have regular pigeon visitors to your garden that you have grown to love, but you still want the small birds to use your bird feeders, then one solution is to provide separate feeding areas. Make sure that the feeding areas are as far away as possible from each other. The pigeon feeding area can be on the ground — encourage them by filling a ground feeder with food they love. Pigeons are herbivores and granivores, so a high cereal content seed mix, such as Ark Cereal Mix is ideal, with the added benefit of being very economical.
Choose a bird food pigeons aren’t keen on
Pigeons have a reputation for eating anything and everything, but actually, pigeons have their preferences. By choosing bird food that pigeons will overlook, you can give the smaller birds a chance to have a hearty meal.
Pigeons will tend not to be interested in:
How do pigeon-proof feeders work?
Pigeons aren’t going to get any medals for their gymnastics! They leave the acrobatics to the smaller birds. So pigeons struggle to grip onto surfaces which are uneven. Pigeons can happily sit on a branch or wire but as soon as a surface is at an angle they won’t be able to hold on. So bird feeders which are pigeon-proof will be vertical or the surface will be at an angle. Take a look at these pigeon-proof bird feeders that allow smaller birds to feed in peace. If you like to make things and do a bit of DIY, there are tutorials on YouTube which show you how to make pigeon-proof feeders.
Use a feeder that is too small for a pigeon
Pigeons are larger garden birds, so they can’t sit on a tiny ledge to get to the bird seed. You can also add sticks through the bird feeder cage at random angles to deter pigeons who do not have the agility to balance on them.