Pigeons are a surprisingly serious and ongoing problem for Community Schemes, especially where the overall roof area tends to be greater, thereby providing more space for pigeons and other birds to roost, nest and breed. This is not always considered as part of maintenance planning, but the truth is that pigeons can cause immense damages to roofs, guttering, balconies, staircases, windows. The cost of simply cleaning up behind these pests can also be horrendous when extrapolated over a decade or longer.
Why the droppings are dangerous!
The acidic nature of bird droppings corrodes protective coatings and sealants over time. Pigeon droppings in particular are sticky and difficult to remove as they are used to provide structural support to the birds’ nests. Essentially, their droppings act as a binding agent, much like mortar to bricks. This faeces can attract vermin, such as mice, rats, and flies, and, because it is highly acidic, will stain, and possibly eat away the underlying surface. The caustic nature of pigeon droppings has caused significant damage to roofs, especially tar-based structures, and has been known to shorten the usable life of a roof by as much as half in some cases. The uric acid (white material) in their droppings is not just unsightly; it can damage the finish on buildings, automobiles, etc. Droppings also contain dangerous fungi and bacteria that are potentially harmful to humans. Some of the diseases they can cause include Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, Psittacosis, and St. Louis Encephalitis. The droppings can cause a huge mess to balconies and patios, staining and damaging the surface ofoutdoor furniture. The acidic quality of pigeon droppings can eat away at the paintwork on a car, causing significant and costly damage. In addition to the threat to homes and cars from droppings, the heavy, end-of-season pigeon nests have been known to clog gutters and eaves troughs, causing water build-up and degrading roofs and eaves. Nesting pigeons in dormers or gabled areas of houses, apartments, or places of business, can create unsightly damage by pecking around windows and sills.
Discouraging the Threat
Avoid feeding pigeons under any circumstances. Do not make your home a place which they associate with food. Never feed them, or allow bird feeders to remain on your property. This only encourages them and they have long memories when it comes to food sources.
For those who live in large urban areas, the threat of pigeons is constant. A few ways to re-route these scavenging opportunists:
- The first, and easiest way to discourage pigeons from your patio, deck, or balcony, is to fasten a wind-chime, aluminum foil pan, Mylar-type balloon, or balloons, a decoy owl or hawk, or some shiny rubber snakes in the offended area. Poke a hole in your aluminum foil pan, and fasten to your balcony railing by string.
- Try tying a Mylar balloon to your patio table, propping an owl in the corner of your balcony, where it will be visible to the pigeons, or scatter some rubber snakes in the vicinity of your porch. Most garden centers carry the owls and snakes for this purpose.
- You may consider anti-roosting spikes. These spikes are available at most home and garden centers, or hardware stores. They can be attached anywhere the birds roost and discourage pigeon perching by creating an “unperchable” environment. If you live in the city, you’ve likely seen these spikes on commercial and municipal buildings. They aren’t inexpensive, and installation takes some time, but they are a sure-fire deterrent and will continue to be so for years to come.
- Commercial gel-repellent also works well, especially if you are a tenant and can’t install a more permanent solution. This gel gives your solid surface a sticky, slippery, or tacky layer, which makes it impossible for the pesky perpetrator to perch. He will move to another location. As weather and wind take their toll on the gel, you will find it necessary to reapply every few weeks to months. Make sure the product you use is environmentally safe.
- For a balcony railings that attracts pigeons, a simple and low-cost option is to attach a child’s coiled “slinky” type toy along the top. The barrier of the coils, wrapped around the railing, prevent the bird from finding a comfortable spot.
- Another way to keep these feathered invaders from setting up camp on your balcony is by creating a barrier. By using weather-proof string, you can prevent the birds from finding any negotiable way onto your balcony. Tie the string a few centimeters above your balcony railing and pigeons will have a difficult time gaining a foothold. Affix a mesh screen or chicken wire along the inside of your railing to prevent entry.
If you are in a pigeon-heavy areas, you have a special set of circumstances. Your roof, soffits, gables, and eaves will also suffer if these nuisance birds are left to their own devices. Put a stop to pigeon damage by utilizing these methods:
- Keep your bins enclosed and make sure there are no food scraps left around. Clean up after outdoor parties and gatherings where food is served. Clean your braai after each use. Feed pets indoors.
- Organic, homemade deterrents are usually fairly effective. Place “pomanders” of strong spices, such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cinnamon around your patio and exterior window sills, or wherever pigeons tend to gather. You can take a generous amount of these spices and wrap them in cheesecloth, or simply sprinkle them along railings and sills. You’ll need to replenish frequently, but spicing up your area tends to be fairly effective in discouraging pigeons.
- Scrutinize your property for pigeon-friendly places. Soffits, vents and large gaps, up high, are instinctively inviting for pigeons to establish a nest and start a family. Once there, they will be difficult to relocate. They have long memories and will utilise a roosting site for generations. Check gutters and eaves frequently and consider commercial installation of gutter coverings.
- Wind-chimes are handy for startling the birds, but you can’t always count on a breezy day.
- Some homeowners who are particularly bothered by pigeons resort to ultrasonic devices. This method employs ultrasound technology to create a sort of sonic “net” which confuses and confounds the birds, causing them to want to get away as fast as they can. Ultrasonic devices are so thoroughly successful that the method is utilised in commercial buildings throughout the agricultural sector.
Cleaning Pigeon Droppings
You will need water, sawdust, dish soap
- Dust pan
- Dish soap
Start by washing the area and removing as much of the droppings as you can.
Allow the area to air dry, possibly even overnight depending on the time of day.
Cover the stained areas with dish soap and scrub it into the concrete with a scrubber brush or sponge.
Scrubbing the spots well will allow the dish soap to seep into the concrete and start to eat away at the staining before it gets too bad.
Take the sawdust and sprinkle it over the entire area, not just the spots covered with soap. This will work to absorb the soap, the stains, and any smell that has remained. Allow the sawdust to dry fully, absorbing everything underneath it in the process.
Take your broom and dustpan, and sweep up all of the sawdust, disposing of it appropriately. If there is any staining left, repeat steps two and three, but only put the sawdust over the affected spots, not the whole area, as a spot check.
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