Do Plastic Owls Keep Away Pigeons?


06.20.2005 - One of the great jokes of the nuisance wildlife control industry is the use of fake plastic owls for pigeon control. The theory is simple enough. We know that pigeons are terrified of one of their natural predators: owls. Thus, why not use owl decoys to scare away pigeons? Unfortunately, it doesn't work in practice. It might be the equivalent of some nuisance human control operator setting up a fake plastic boogie man (or IRS auditor, mother-in-law, insert scary human here) by your front door in hopes that it'll keep you from entering your own home. It just won't work. You'll know, somehow, that the boogie man isn't the REAL boogie man, but a fake boogie man, and you'll continue to live in your home fearlessly.

That's how it is with fake plastic owls. It doesn't work on the pigeons because, surprise, they can tell that it's not the real deal. I know, I know, those plastic owls that they mold are incredibly realistic. So realistic that pigeons usually roost on top of them and poop on their heads. Real owls tend to, you know, move and hoot and swivel their heads and eat Tootsie Pops in three bites. They also eat pigeons in three bites. So when the plastic owl isn't observed eating any pigeons, it tends to diminish the owl fear factor. I've heard of fancier models of fake owls or hawks, complete with mechanical movement and sound effects, but once again, nature isn't easily fooled, and you just can't replicate the real deal.

Plastic owls are yet another attempt at cheap and easy wildlife control. Sometimes cheap and easy works. Most of the time it doesn't. In the case of pigeon control, it never does. In fact, many bird control experts will actually seek out plastic owls on buildings and contact the building owners about their pigeon problem, which obviously isn't being solved correctly. The only real way to solve pigeon problems is more complex - usually involving the installation of deterrents that will physically prevent them from landing and roosting - such as bird spikes or netting.

In the above photo, we see that the building owners attempted the use of a plastic owl in their first effort at getting rid of the pigeons. Of course it did not work, so that's why I installed these bird spikes on the beams instead. That actually took care of the problem.

So go ahead and try out the plastic owl. It might even look cute sitting atop your building, and it might even trick a birdwatcher or two. Unfortunately, it won't trick any resident pigeons, and eventually, you'll end up removing your pigeon-poop-covered bird ornament from the building in favor of a real solution.

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Pigeons are one of the most common nuisance birds. They thrive in urban environments and are very difficult to get rid of due to their homing instinct – once they feel attached to a site, they will use it for nesting and roosting. Pigeons are not scared of people, however, they are afraid of predators such as hawks and owls. There are many ways of dealing with these pests and one of them is using plastic owls to keep them away from your property. But, is this method effective?

Problems caused by pigeons
Firstly, it is crucial to understand why the presence of pigeons near your home or work building is not only an inconvenience but also a threat. Pigeons cause problems in all kinds of areas – from commercial buildings and streets to private properties.

These birds' droppings contain highly corrosive uric acid, which means it can cause a lot of damage in a very short amount of time. Their droppings can damage the outside parts of the building by discoloring it, ruining wood or staining fabric. Moreover, pigeon's nests are very often located on roof corners and drains. This means that the nests can cause clogs in the drainage system, which then often ends in serious structural problems. A similar issue happens when these birds decide to nest near chimneys and ventilation systems, as this can lead to the blockage of the airflow into the building. What is more, pigeon nests are inflammable, so they increase the fire hazard on the property.

One of the most serious issues with a pigeon infestation is the fact that these birds carry various diseases. Their droppings can carry more than 60 transmittable parasites, harmful microorganisms, and pathogens. One should always be careful around pigeon's feces, as the dried-out droppings containing pathogens that turn into a powder and can be inhaled by humans.

Do plastic owls keep away pigeons?
One of the cheapest pigeon deterrents is putting a fake owl in a visible spot in hope that it will scare away the birds. Unfortunately, pigeons are quite smart animals that don't fall for that trick. These birds have great eyesight and an owl that doesn't move or make any noises will not scare them away. Real owls tend to move, hoot, and swivel their heads. Moreover, if they are found near pigeons, they are probably in the process of eating one. Hence why pigeons don't get scared by plastic owls that do not make a move. Sadly, they are more likely to cover the fake owl with their droppings rather than stay away from it.

Other pigeon control solutions
Luckily, there are plenty of other methods available on the market that will help you with a pigeon problem. Quick research will show you that there are tons of pigeon control solutions, starting with prevention to actual removal. Some of the most popular ways of dealing with pigeon problems are:

Installing pigeon spikes
Exclusion netting
Using optical gel
Using audio, taste, and visual deterrents
Electric shock method

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