Pigeons have been living alongside humans for thousands of years, and have adapted their lifestyle to urban living very successfully.  In their natural habitat, they would nest on the sides of tall rocky cliffs. Balconies and ledges on apartment buildings are very similar, so pigeons often choose to nest in these familiar places.

What to do if pigeons are nesting on the balcony

Be patient with a family of pigeons

If the babies have already hatched, really the only thing you can do is wait for them to grow up and fly away. Don’t worry — baby pigeons grow up very quickly! The time between when they hatch from the egg to when they fly away from their nest is usually less than 4 weeks. Once they leave, the babies don’t come back to the nest again.

The parents may try to start another nest in the same spot, even before the first babies have grown up and flown off.  Read on to find out how to keep them from nesting on your balcony in the future.

Can’t I just move the nest?

No. Pigeons are very location-specific when it comes to their nest site. Moving the nest over even a few feet — say to a neighbouring balcony — can cause the parents to abandon the nest.

Baby pigeons NEED their parents — they cannot survive without them. Their parents feed them, keep them warm, and even after they’ve left the nest mom and dad show them how to fly, escape from predators, and integrate with the flock.

If you take the babies off of your balcony and move them, even if it’s to a “nice” spot like the local park, they will die. The best thing to do is to let the parents raise this one set of babies. It will take less than a month, they grow up so fast. Once the babies have flown away, you can prevent the pigeons from nesting again in the future.

Keep things tidy

Clean up or put away any things you might be storing on your balcony that are providing shelter or hiding spots for the pigeons to nest. Sweep away any feces or nesting material. It’s fine to do this cleaning while the babies are still on the balcony, just stay away from the exact spot the nest is in.

Remember, the parent pigeons may lay a new set of eggs before the first babies are grown up and gone. You will have to be diligent and go outside every day to sweep away any fresh nesting material. Eventually, the pigeons will get the message that your balcony is not a good place to nest, and they’ll go elsewhere.

What if they lay another set of eggs?

If they do lay a new set of eggs, provided you know that they were laid less than a week ago, it’s fine to dispose of them.  We recommend taking them to the local park and hiding them under a bush – that way they can go back to being a part of nature.

If there is a new set of eggs and you’re not sure when they were laid, or you know they’re over two weeks old, we recommend leaving them be and letting the parents raise that brood. Pigeons usually incubate their eggs for about 3 weeks, and then the babies take about 4 weeks to grow up after hatching.

 

How to keep pigeons from nesting in the future

There are a few different things you can try to make your balcony less attractive to pigeons looking for a place to nest. Remember to wait until AFTER the babies have grown up and flown away before implementing any of these measures. You don’t want to separate the babies from their parents – they will die without their mom and dad.

Keep things tidy

Keeping things tidy and uncluttered is the first step. Pigeons like to choose a sheltered nest spot, so they like furniture and storage items to hide behind. Going out every day and sweeping off any new nesting material is the best thing you can do to prevent pigeon nests. Even just your presence out on the balcony will be enough to discourage many pigeons from nesting. We usually find that nests are made when no one is using the balcony, either early in the season or when the occupants have been out of town for a while.

Keep pigeons from perching

Adult pigeons like to perch on the railing of their nest-site balcony, so they can look around and spot any nearby predators. If you make it impossible to perch on the railing, they’ll usually find somewhere else to go.

We recommend a single length of wire or heavy gauge fishing line. Secure the line tautly about 2-3 inches above and parallel to the balcony railing. Tying it to nails or screws at either end can work.  Pigeons aren’t technically perching birds, so it’s hard for them to stand on a piece of wire so thin. They won’t want to build their nest on a balcony where they can’t look out for predators.

Commercial flexible pigeon coils and wires can also work, but will be more expensive to install. We never recommend the use of sticky deterrents, because they can harm both pigeons and other species of birds.

Scare the pigeons away from the balcony

The best thing to scare pigeons away from a balcony is frequent human presence. We usually find that nests are made when no one is using the balcony, either early in the season or when the occupants have been out of town for a while.

You can also use visual deterrents to keep pigeons away from your balcony. Strips of shiny wrapping paper blowing in the breeze, old CDs hanging from string, and colourful spinning pinwheels are some cheap and easy options. Any visual deterrent will be more effective if you move it around or change it up regularly.

And no, those plastic owls don’t really work. At least not for pigeons.

Be careful with pigeon netting

Completely netting in a balcony or ledge can be a very effective way of keeping pigeons from nesting or roosting in that spot. However, pigeon netting MUST be professionally installed and regularly maintained! When pigeon netting gets loose and floppy, it becomes a danger to pigeons, hawks, sparrows, and any other birds that might fly into it and get tangled up.

It is also important to wait until any active nests are finished and all babies have flown away before installing pigeon netting. If the babies are separated from their parents, they will die.