Pigeon Spikes

by Josh on November 13, 2006 · 10 comments

in Uncategorized

On the same day my push-button light switches arrived in the mail, another package was waiting for me also: pigeon spikes and adhesive shipped all the way from jolly ol’ England.

I’ve been battling these belligerent birds for months now. I sweep away their nests; they build new ones. I thin the flock; other birds take their place. As winter approaches, my last effort of the season is to eliminate their favorite perching and nesting spots with spikes before the impending snow and ice force a stalemate until spring.

P1000711 One of the pigeons’ favorite places to perch is the top of the brackets below the roof of the addition on the back of the house. The other brackets on the house have plywood sheets nailed to them to bridge the space between the top of the bracket and the underside of the roof, but the three on the addition are open on top. The droppings that fall from these perches make a terrible mess in the back yard where our son and dog play, so these are about the worst possible location for unmanaged pigeon perches.

Climbing up the full two stories up the ladder to the brackets was no small feat for a recovering acrophobe, but after a couple trial runs without tools, I was comfortable enough with the ladder and the height to try installing the pigeon deterrent spikes.

P1000738 First, a bit about the spikes: The variety I chose have four rows of wire spikes spreading eight inches wide and mounted on a thirteen-inch-long plastic base. The base is perforated every inch to allow the spike strips to be shortened easily by hand simply by snapping the strip at one of these joints. The base also has small star-shaped holes that are used to affix the spikes, either by driving screws through the holes, or by providing a keyhole for silicone adhesive applied to the back of the spikes to flow up and lock the spike in place. It’s a clever design. I also like the fact that these spikes covered 8 inches of width with a single strip– some other varieties cover only half that width. This means that I was able to use just one row of spikes on the six-inch-wide brackets. It also gave me more efficient coverage of the relatively large areas under the roof overlaps which have been popular nesting areas for the pigeons.

The installation procedure for the pigeon spikes is straightforward:

  1. Wear appropriate safety gear including long sleeves, gloves, goggles and respirator to protect yourself from germ-infested droppings
  2. Clear away any nest material, droppings or other debris–use a hose or a water bucket and rag to remove dried droppings and minimize dust.
  3. Dry lay the spikes in place and adjust for size
  4. Apply a liberal bead of silicone adhesive to the back of the first spike strip
  5. Press the spikes in place, making sure the adhesive “keys” through the holes in the base
  6. Repeat the last two steps for each remaining strip of spikes

P1000725-1So are the spikes working?

Yes and no. My ladder isn’t tall enough to reach the bracket at the peak of the roof on the addition, so the most popular perch in the back is still available. I haven’t seen any birds in the places I installed the spikes, but pigeons have a way of finding other nearby places to perch when their favorite one is taken away.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron Fimbel November 13, 2006 at 3:10 pm

These pigeons seem to be taunting you by sitting on your ladder.


nadja and sean November 13, 2006 at 3:18 pm

wow- thanks for the post! we are having ridiculous pigeon problems too. we’ve tried the pellet gun on them to scare them away (shh, don’t tell the DNR!)… but they keep coming back and making a huge mess. now they just fly off when they see us coming. maybe we’ll try the spikes!


Andrea November 13, 2006 at 3:52 pm

That last photo is absolutely hilarious. Thanks for the laugh. But I don’t have a pigeon problem. If I did, that last photo might cause a breakdown.


Josh November 13, 2006 at 4:41 pm

Yeah, that last picture is how pigeons “give you the bird.”

I’d recommend you check out bird spikes, if you’ve got pigeon issues, Nadja and Sean. I put a few notches in my pellet gun this summer, too, but the only relief it provided was cathartic and temporary.

In addition to the nesting and perching locations I mentioned in the article, I also spiked the edge of the roof peak in a couple places. I heard it discourages them from landing– even if there aren’t spikes along the whole peak of the roof.


felicia November 14, 2006 at 12:25 pm

Oh, that photo is GREAT! LOL!


David Stefanini December 21, 2006 at 4:17 pm

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Bill January 1, 2007 at 9:15 pm

I, too, have pigeon problems, and Internet chat on the subject is generally irrelevant. I live in the desert, and the arrival of pigeons here is quite recent. I have a virtual oasis on the flank of a volcano behind the house and have fostered the well-being of thousands of birds over the years – but those were native: seed-eaters and insect-eaters.

Next, the flying rat problem is NOT, in my case, a problem for an apartment complex, an urban rental sitation, etc., and I am not eager to clamber over a two-storey tile roof to try one experiment after another. Nothing like throwing away money for roof repairs, and risking personal death or injury, just to try to save birds that frankly do not beong here in the desert. The hawks kill them, yes, but not fast enough – and I wouldn’t risk poisoning the f-rats, since a redtail or even a crow or vulture might eat one and become sick or die.

I have recently resorted to glue traps, the trick being to acquire the necessary agility to handle a twenty-foot pole and to glue a non-slip foam shelving material to the bottom of the tray to keep the trap from sliding down the tiles. I insert a wire loop at one end of the tray by drilling two holes along the lip. (Optionally, a lead fishing weight can be attached to make flight with the tray attached more difficult). And I place the trays in the locations habitually used by the f-rats – easy to identify by the gallons of droppings potentially clogging my gutters. Cactus wrens, canyon wrens, orioles, mountain blue birds, sapsuckers, woodpeckers, meadowlarks, mocking birds, etc., never go on the roof, as they do not expect either seeds or insects there, and their nests are elsewhere. The risk is to doves and sparrows. But then the doves also face the risk of contracting bird diseases (tricomeniasis?) the pigeons carry.

Now – who is to blame for the latter, if any of the native birds or sparrows should die? I or the anonymous idiot who transported the pests here? For heaven sakes, PIGEON-LOVERS, do NOT expand their “habitat” – as this endangers other species who wind up caught in the cross-fire!

In the meanwhile, if anyone else has any good idea to be rid of the pests, I’d love to hear it. The best alternative I’ve come up with is to construct the “ideal pigeon dwelling” for the critters – they seem to like aereal shed-like dwellings – one providing shelter, rear and upper cover, but an airy view. So, I could build a trap in that “pigeonniare” format and trigger it once a good quantity has moved in. (I once caught a colony in a roof-top evaporative cooler unit). Then I introduce them to the real world – let them go a few hundreds miles out in open desert – maybe near the Mexican border if a winter northerly is blowing! But no, that’s only risk spreading the contamination…


Bill January 1, 2007 at 9:34 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention three things.

1. Just to reach my tile-line requires full extention of an extention ladder;

2. It’s hilarious to see a pigeon fly with a glu-trap stuck to his legs and bottom- definitely worth the price of the trap. I need to get that on film;

3. I can’t get the birds to come to the ground. If I lay out oodles of bread torn into crouton-sized delights, the ONLY animals who give it any attention are the bunnies. Myriad ground squirels, kangaroo-rats, pack-rats, even, don’t see bread as belonging to any of their food groups. Obviously, the deer, javelina, bob-cats, etc., would concur in this assessment… the jack rabbits don’t even want it! And the darned pigeons don’t want it either – or at least not on the ground!

And also, BTW, I tried the Alka Seltzer (C) gambit, mixed with rice. It hurts me to say, but I may have killed one sparrow (I guess that’s what did it) and did nothing to the f-rats. That sparrow was almost certainly born under my roof (they nest under the tiles), so I practically lost a member of my family.


Ethan February 27, 2008 at 2:51 am

For the last two comments…

Glue traps are cruel. Don’t use them! Yes, you may want to get rid of the birds, but that doesn’t mean you should torture them to death! Use deterrents or remove them humanely. Often the easiest way of dealing with the problem is to learn to live with them. They’re birds, not rats, and they don’t spread diseases the way rats do, so they’re really only a nuisance for the easily annoyed.


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