Here in the UK, we have a few annoying birds that like to hang around our front doors, begging for scraps. The first is an overeager house sparrow, with the second being a cheeky pigeon. Usually, if you’re not careful, these pesky creatures will happily eat as many of your bird food crumbs as they can get their toes on – and it can be quite hard to deter pigeons from doing so!

Although pigeons are not known to be aggressive in nature, they are not shy either. Before they become a problem, they come to visit your garden on their own accord and may even do it several times. Not only will they eat virtually everything available to them, but they also have a nasty habit of leaving their pigeon poop wherever they go.

Fortunately, there are some humane solutions that come in handy for getting rid of these freeloaders – and ultimately converting your bird feeder into a ‘pigeon-proof’ feeding station. Read on to learn how to use these methods and why they work so well.

How To Keep Pigeons Away From Bird Feeders

Pigeon on a bird feeder

Keep The Area Clean

Although pigeons will happily eat off your bird table, windowsill or just about anywhere else they find food, ultimately, they are ground-feeding birds.

So, if you’re using hanging feeders, there will almost always be dropped bird food on the ground. Therefore, it’s important to keep this area free of any food that has accumulated on the floor where they may begin to feast. Keeping it free of edible waste will eventually deter pigeons away from your bird feeders.

Also, make sure that the feeder itself is clean and that no crumbs or seeds are left on it. This will prevent our feathered friends from being able to see what they are eating and hopefully deter them from wanting it. For more information, check our top tips on how to clean a bird feeder quickly and easily.

Use a Seed Catcher

As mentioned above, the fallen seed is a wonderful attraction for these ground feeders. If cleaning is an issue and cannot be done regularly, try using seed catchers. These will sit underneath bird feeders and catch all the food that would have dropped to the ground. The catcher can be emptied easily and frequently, thus making it a cheap, quick and effective way of pigeon proofing your bird feeders.

Chicken Wire

If you still have pigeons feeding off the dropped seed in your garden, you can try placing chicken wire under your bird feeders. This will stop pigeons from roaming around on the ground and eating the food that has fallen from above.

Pigeon Repellent

Another easy step in your quest to prevent pigeons from sneaking into your garden and attacking your bird feeders is using a repellent spray or gel. This can be bought online or from many garden centres, but the most effective is one that uses a pepper-based spray.

A good example of this is one which uses a combination of polybutene and other ingredients to keep pigeons away from your feeders. The gel is easy to apply to your feeder or even a pole or rod that you may use as a perch.

When using pigeon repellent spray, you’ll want to make sure that you only spray the food itself and not the birds, although it’s important to note that the spray will wear off in time, so you’ll have to reapply it occasionally.

As a single application, these products will show the pigeons that there are no benefits to eating bird food and that they should instead spend their time searching for a more rewarding meal.

Play With Feeder Placement

Try moving around your bird feeder so it faces away or out of sight from the area where pigeons usually sit. Food that they cant easily see while roosting will prevent them from seeking a meal and will most likely leave your bird feeders alone.

Add Natural Predators

Another thing you can do if you want to get rid of pigeons is to add natural predators. Several animals, like cats, will be able to eat pigeons and give the other birds their food back. However, this method carries some danger as your cat may accidentally catch some different types of birds.

Use An Anti Pigeon Bird Feeder

A pigeon proof bird feeder is designed for smaller birds in mind. Most UK garden birds are relatively small in comparison to pigeons. Therefore, having a bird feeder cage that only allows small birds to access the food is a great way to discourage pigeons from seeking their next meal.

For example, the openings of the wire cage will be much smaller, preventing pigeons and other large birds from manoeuvring around or accessing food from inside.

How To Get Rid Of Pigeons But Not Other Birds

A pigeon attacks a starling on a bid feeder

Although not commonly known to be the bully birds of the UK, these somewhat big birds can be pretty intimidating for some species at times. They are not aggressive in nature, but because pigeons are relatively large in comparison to other garden birds, there’s no doubt that pigeons scare smaller garden birds away from bird feeders.

So, if you want to get rid of pigeons without harming other birds, you may want to try a different strategy. Try some of the below:

Try a Tube Feeder

Tube feeders are exactly what they sound like – a glass or plastic tube which has a perch situated at the bottom of it where the birds sit. This allows for small birds to get their food from the side of the tube.

Larger birds like pigeons will find it hard to perch on the bottom of the feeder because their claws and body are too large to handle.

Use Bird Spikes

Deterrents such as plastic bird spikes are an effective way of keeping pigeons gathering and sitting in your garden. They come in the form of spikes on a strip that can be placed on fences, gates, roofs, windowsills and anywhere else you see pigeons relaxing and eyeing up your bird feeders.

Most other species and small birds, in particular, do not like roosting in such areas where pigeons favour, and so will most likely continue coming to visit your garden and feed freely. This method is cheap and easily implemented.

Choice Of Food

One of the best ways of deterring pigeons away from bird feeders is by offering other birds food that pigeons don’t like. You may be surprised, but pigeons have picky taste buds too. For example, pigeons don’t like sunflower seeds and hearts, suet balls, and nyjer seed. Eventually, they will realise the food is not worth coming back for.

Use Suet Feeders

A suet fat ball feeder is a great example of an anti pigeon bird feeder. Pigeons cannot digest suet, so they will not attempt to eat it. In contrast, other types of bird, such as tits and jays, love feasting on suet.

This is an excellent option if you are trying to find an easy way to stop pigeons from invading and eating your bird food. You can buy these at any pet store, and they are very easily installed on a tree or wooden pole in your yard.

Feed Pigeons Separately

Feeding pigeons is generally a pretty easy task. However, to keep them away from a hanging bird feeder, try luring them away separate from the other wild birds that visit your garden.

Since they don’t like all types of bird seed, setting up another bird table away from your hanging feeder is an effective way of separating them from smaller birds. This can easily be done by offering some of the favourite seeds, such as corn, pearl millets, wheat, chickpea, oats, or a mixture.

Use Sticks

This is a cheap and excellent way to create a DIY pigeon proof bird feeder. If you want to feed only small birds and not the pigeons, try poking sticks through the cage at random angles. This will keep pigeons coming too close to the cage to get some food because everytime they try, they will be greeted with a little poke and eventually give up.

The Final Word

Pigeons may seem like an easy and friendly visitor to your garden, but they can be a nightmare too if left alone.

As for your bird feeder cage, the best way to get rid of pigeons is to use any of the methods discussed above. These should help keep those unwanted guests away from other little birds, so you can enjoy them in peace and not worry about them landing at your feeders. Trial and error, budget and time will ultimately depend on which works best for you.

If you have any other methods that you’re using that work well, leave a comment below.

Additional Resources

Sources and References

  1. Keeping Pigeons Away From Bird Feeders –
  2. How To Scare Away Pigeons But Not Other Birds –

10 thoughts on “How To Stop Pigeons Eating Bird Food”

  1. Glyn Roberts

    Here’s my DIY version of a bird feeder that deters pigeons.
    A cage feeder can be very expensive, so I found that if you use an upturned hanging basket, the small mesh type, over the feeding table, the small birds can still get through the mesh and feed, but the pigeons can’t.
    It took a while for the small birds to get use to it, but now they feed when they want.

  2. I have a flock of feral pigeons which visit my garden several times a day. I have stopped putting seed out and now there is only suet available for the blackbirds and robins which are regular and welcome visitors. The pigeons are eating this as there is nothing else.
    Will they eventually get the message and move on.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Lynda, pigeons aren’t keen on suet but they are opportunistic feeders. Hopefully, they’ll find something better, nearby, in the coming days or weeks and they’ll move on.

  3. I’m so pleased I’m not the only one out there that has a problem with these pigeons. I’ve taken mine down at the moment because I got so frustrated with all the pigeons and squirrels. I had a jay that came but doesn’t come anymore. Now makes me sad but I will try your suggestions. Many thanks

  4. Julie Richards

    I have tube feeders. I bought some seed catcher trays, that fit on the bottom, but the Pigeons find they can sit on it to get the food that way, rather than on the floor. Also removed all food apart from in the cage feeder, & found the starlings attacking small birds into dropping what they try to fly off with. I cannot win. I think I will go for the sticks, in a way I can fasten them to the tube. Need some flexible plastic and glue gun, I think. Thanks.

  5. We have almost 20 hanging feeders around our front and rear lawns, and observed a fundamental issue with large feeders. Pigeons cannot feed from the portal served by their perch, so what they do is cling to lower perches and have the reach to feed from the portals above.
    We fully resolved this by removing perches immediately above and closing off the portals with weatherproof tape.
    We do allow pigeons and doves to feed from the ground as they keep the grass clear, but no longer disturb small birds from feeding.

  6. How effective would it be to put a bird of prey or an owl nearby to deter pigeons from coming into my garden

  7. We are plagued by pigeons in our garden. I have 4 tube feeders which I only fill with sunflower hearts but these pigeons hang off all the feeders and they certainly do like the sunflower hearts. I am at my wits end with these pigeons. We can have up to 20+ in our garden at once. There’s wood pigeon, but mostly they seem to be homing pigeons. I know there’s feeders out there that shut of the food if a bird over a certain weight lands on it but they are £30 each.

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