At last – a pigeon proof bird feeder

I live in a fifth floor flat with a balcony and it pleases me to put some bird feeders out for the local avian wildlife.

Over the past few years though I have experimented with a range of ideas to prevent pigeons hoovering up the food. I don’t intrinsically object to pigeons, but while most birds eat a bit then fly off, pigeons eat every scrap of food in one go – denying it to other birds.

Their excrement is also rather larger and more yeuky to clean up.

One thing I learned quickly is that pigeons have an evolutionary failure in their design – they only work when upright. Most birds can hang onto a branch at an angle. Pigeons can’t. So, placing food such as suet feeds next to an angled branch or pole ensures that most birds can feed, but pigeons are denied.

The problem is that smaller birds didn’t seem that keen on the suet feeders – unlike the magpies and starlings, so how to attract the rather cuter bluetits and robins?

Time to try the conventional bird feeders.

Unfortunately, pigeons near me seem to have been evolving into giant humming birds – and would basically leap up to the bird feeder, cling on to the rest bar, and flapping like mad, knock a load of seed onto the floor, where they would then eat it.

Not wishing to be responsible for the evolution of giant hummingbirds in the UK – I revised the plan.

After some hunting for suitable pigeon proof feeders, I decided to trial a squirrel proof design – well, pigeons are flying rats, so there should be some sort of crossover. Shouldn’t there?

Didn’t work. In fact made matters worse.

The pigeons now had something substantial to cling onto while flapping their wings, and while the model I purchased had a solid floor to stop the seed falling to the ground, the pigeons simply reached through the cage and ate from the holes in the tube for the smaller birds.


Cover those parts of the cage with wire – leaving gaps for the smaller birds elsewhere. Nope – while the smaller birds were not detered, neither were the pigeons – they just squeezed their way through other spaces.

In addition to evolving into giant hummingbirds, it seemed the pigeons necks were also becoming more snake like.

Giant grey hummingbirds with snake heads. I doubt future Londoners would thank me for that evolutionary switch.

What I needed is either a cage so large that pigeons couldn’t reach the interior goodies, or… some way of making it impossible for them to cling on to the outside.

In effect, I needed this!

As an experiment, I took some garden plant supports and using picture wire secured them to the cage so that they stuck out at random angles.

Initially, the pigeons seemed confused and several times launched themselves at the newly protected structure, only to come away with sore chests as they jumped at the spikes. They swiftly learned that was a mistake.

After a couple of weeks of testing, I can proudly announce that the IanVisits Patent Pigeon Proof Bird Feeder is a success!

The smaller birds actually quite like the extra spikes on the outside, although so do the Starlings, which may be an issue if you don’t like them. It’s not elegant as a design, but it works. And that is the key thing.

I also declare that any company manufacturing a bird feeder based on my design is FREE to do so, and please do so quickly. Households with pigeon problems need them.

Posted in Random Tagged with:
49 comments on “At last – a pigeon proof bird feeder
  1. dotCompost says:

    Your findings are identical to mine. Even your solution of fixing garden plant supports on with wire [I used cable ties] is my workaround, too. However you will find some flying rats will still knock and rock the feeder to spill seed on the floor. That’s if the parakeets don’t get there first!

  2. Fi says:

    Oh dear how I laughed at your description of them as ‘Giant grey hummingbirds with snakeheads’ !! I too have a big problem with pesky pigeons, albeit not on a balcony but in my small back garden. They scoff every single scrap I put out for the smaller birds and seem to have a bottomless pit for a stomach. I’ve been scouring the net this afternoon for solutions. The best one I have found so far is using an upturned wire hanging basket over the food (talking about ground feeding here). I might try this. I have even resorted to using a water pistol on them, it does ‘stick it up them’ and get rid for a bit, but of course they come back – with an even more cockier attitude than before……..!

  3. Auntie Doris says:

    Excellent! While I don’t suffer from ordinary pigeons, thankfully, there are a couple of ginormous wood pigeons in the garden which keep eating all the seed and which I don’t want to encourage (they’ve already shat on my washing!). I shall deploy these defences forthwith (and utilise the excellent ‘ground feeder’ idea too!).

    Thank you Ian!

    • mary nightingale says:

      Oh my days your comment has had me crying with laughter. I too have a small area just for the resident sparrows in the hedge, and some blackbirds that mooch about but the bloody wood pigeons eat everything but manage to miss pooping on the washing

  4. Fi says:

    It’s the obese wood pigeons I have as well, 2 or 3 of them at any time – and you are quite right, they sh*t everywhere – probably have to relieve themselves every few minutes in the garden, judging by the amount they get down their necks in such a short time!

  5. Margaret Mariam Rosenthal says:

    I did successfully pigeon proof my garden one year; but the results were too painful. I crisscrossed fishing line, making horizontal and vertical rows from poles. The pigeons could not see the wires, and would get tangled. And unfortunately, did not seem able to understand what was going on or to learn by example. After 3 or 4 pigeons got entangled and had to be cut free and in some cases euthanized, I took the fishing line down. All of my feeders are weight bearing so they only can get what spills to begin with.

  6. Tanya Young says:

    I love the idea of your ‘Hellraiser’ feeder.

    Fat greedy giant grey hummingbirds have been driving me mad for years. I have two dogs that are quite happy to chase them but, the pigeons just fly away and wait for the dogs to go and then come back again! The poor garden birds don’t get a look in and at this time of year food is hard to find. I have a bird table so I will have to modify it to a Hellraiser too.

  7. Bird Control Sussex says:

    I like this idea. It’s awesome. . I really appreciate your work, keep up writing more ideas on this topic.

  8. Karen Liebreich says:

    Aha, a solution maybe at last! I had got as far as putting the frail plastic tube into the squirrel proof cage, but Ian has gone a step further. I did a few extra detours via anti-squirrel slinkies etc, so if you want more info on what not to bother with, check out:

  9. Mike says:

    Could the picture wire hurt the birds though?

    • IanVisits says:

      Erm, not if you tie it sensibly as any sensible person would.

      You could use string if you are really worried though. Or any other mechanism for securing objects to each other.

  10. tel says:


    I’m interested in your design and might try it , just need to find a feeder with a cage as mine has no cage , could you tell me where you purchased your feeder? , also I take it that the sticks must be at angles and not level , the last picture looks almost like the sticks are level?


  11. Antik dragon says:

    I do love the net – every problem eventually gets solved, even the really really tricky ones like how to deter flying shit-rat hummingbirds with snake necks and gulls and magpies and the squirrel that can reach a second floor windowsill. Thanks for your great idea, off to the shed now…

  12. mike says:

    That is a nice solution – thanks for sharing. In my garden I was getting through a kilogram of seeds. The pidgeons seemed to be able to wrap themselves around the feeder so that they didn’t even need to flap their wings – batrats i call them.

    Anyway a solution that worked for me, I think, it is still early days (two weeks) but the seed is staying much longer – was to remove opposite feeder pegs. So the feeders now only have one upper peg and one lower peg. The batrats needed to use two level pegs to get a proper purchase – it is a quick fix – I will probably use the suggestions above when I have time.

    I hope this helps someone and thanks for this blog I was getting really annoyed with them – now they are just funny again rooting around on the ground :-), though I do like to put food out for the blackbirds, ah well

  13. Ann B says:

    I have just been browsing the web when I came across this site. I have never laughed so much at all of your comments – I guess because all this rings very true. My problem is not so much the pigeons (I get one fat one all the time and yes, it does shat in my bird bath EVERY day). I know offering wheat as part of the mix of bird food attracts pigeons so perhaps purchasing a wheat free mix would help. However, my problem is the sheer volume of starlings I get. They eat everything and anything in micro seconds. Who said they are endangered – certainly not in my garden!! Purchasing squirral proof feeders has helped to a degree but it seems they have overcome this too, merely pushing themselves through the holes. I need a feeder with smaller holes – any advice please?

  14. Anne Miller says:

    Can’t wait to try this design! Hoping this will also deter the jackdaws and magpies as well as the wood-pigeons!

  15. 531colin says:

    Well done Ian, what fun!
    Lots of blackbirds this year, at least 4 cock birds to-day, (one with 5 youngsters)…some on their second brood, I think. My blackbirds get spoiled by being fed currants on their own special shelf under the overhang of my shed roof….no room for fat pigeons. Was meant to be a nest shelf, but that didn’t happen. Strange to relate, they only come for currants when they are breeding, its been going on for a few years.

  16. Jacquie says:

    Ha ha, brilliant, I am currently in an all out war with a small army of woodpigeons. I have only just recently got my first window feeder, i live on the 3rd floor of a house in central London (already addicted and now have two feeders) and at first I loved the woodpigeons until they became like big galumphing bully’s, eating all the food and flapping their wings to scare other birds and then there’s the poo.
    I have Woodpeckers, tits, robins, blackbirds and Jays who all seem to take turns at feeder, but not the woodpigeons.
    After reading your post I have improvised with chopsticks and they are attacking the feeder every 10 minutes but still can’t get the food! Hurrah! However I think they will bring the feeder down as its attached with suction cups but I am as determined as they are and keep modifying feeders.
    As I speak they are launching themselves at my window but falling off again, so once again I am laughing at them.
    Thanks Ian!

  17. Jacquie says:

    One more thing, woodpigeons eat everything in my feeders, fruity suet nibbles, seed, everything!

  18. Malcolm x says:

    Thanks…I will try the ideas mentioned. I sorted my pond out. Then thought it be nice to have a bird feeding station to view & feed all the little birds (robins, blue tits, etc.) from the loads of trees nearby. But most of the time all I see is the wood pigeons stuffing their huge faces and making a huge mess……poo everywhere, seed everywhere and fat balls dropped into the pond!

  19. FLAK GUNNER says:

    Thanks for the cage with Queen Bodicca’s attachments ! ,this may help to assuage my paranoia concerning FAT ALBERT,(the pigeon)and his cohorts! Thus saving the considerable expense of purchasing a 3.7 surplus anti aircraft artillery piece !

  20. FLAK GUNNER says:

    I have removed the tray for bird seed,(pigeon heliport) but have installed KITE line SWIVELS on bird seed,and fat ball holders. Watching the emotional angst of FAT ALBERT,trying to get at the seed,is very amusing! I believe the pigeon problem is solved….having put some SPIN,on the subject !

    • SuzieQ says:

      How do you put ‘swivels’ on the bird seed feeders, what do you mean by that and where do you get these ‘swivels’ – sounds the trick!

  21. Gill says:

    This made me laugh SO much, thank you! I also live on a 3rd floor balcony in central London and have spent the last year in a battle of attrition with my mutant hummingbird pigeons. Buying one bird feeder after another convinced there is no way they can possibly get to the food, only to be mocked by them less than 24 hours later while they happily demolish its entire contents, leaving nothing for the other small birds who are trying to get a look in. I’ve been found on more than one occasion having a stand off with them saying “I’ll give you a bit but then you have to go away” – nope, pigeon bargaining doesn’t work either. They have no scruples.
    My balcony is so small I can’t really use ground feeding trays, so my options are limited and this is a brilliant idea – will give it a go!

  22. Laura Harris says:

    I have exactly the same problem!!!!
    This is genius – will try it this weekend.

    However – I have another problem for you…

    I have at least 6 or 7 feral pigeons in my garden, I’m trying to get rid of them. The reason they hang around is if they cant eat off the feeder they wait for the drops from the other birds, they eat the spilled food and mess all over my garden – its vile

    I was thinking of designing a bird tray that they cant get to, so a cone shaped tray that sits underneath the cage feeder to catch the leftovers –
    are you up for the challenge? :)


  23. Amanda Hopkins says:

    You may be a genius… I had to buy yet another squirrel-proof feeder, as the previous it-might-work-for-squiggles-but-not-pidgies feeders weren’t top-loading. Got it; set it up with the sticks – and later that day watched Bastard-the-Pigeon sit on top of the old feeder, which I’d left on the patio, looking keenly at the new setup. Ha! A challenge! Since then, I’ve caught him looking a few times, and once sitting on the top of the new feeder contemplating some kind of acrobatics, and once attempting to force himself into proximity around the sticks – but so far the system has foxed him! (Though I will swear that he and his cronies are dropping more guano than they used to as revenge…)

    Even better, the little birdies love it. The first bird to try it out was a robin; the sparrows like it; and the other day I watched a parent goldfinch feeding two noisy fleglings (the long sticks are particularly helpful to learners!).

    Underneath, I have what has had to turn into a rather complicated anti-pigeon aviary, about a foot high, made using border fencing, a couple of frames for hanging baskets, and some on-a-roll wire fencing. (Not very attractive, but we can work on that later….) Bastard manages to get into simpler constructions, but this more complicated version generally keeps him out – and again the little birds like it, hopping in and out singly or as a family outing. I even chuck some seed in there sometimes for them.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this. You really should market it.

  24. Banjo says:

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to keep the winged doves away. Is there a certain placement of the sticks that’s needs to be done? The doves use the spikes as perches and have an easier time than before. I used a few more sticks. Maybe that’s the problem.

  25. London says:

    Does this still work? Or have you had to make ay more amendments to it since this design? Im having the same problem as you did- but just think the sticks would serve as extra perches as another reader mentions above.
    Many thanks

  26. Joanna says:

    Thank you so much for inspiring us to try and repel the jackdaws who are vacuuming the seeds out of the feeder. We have the prototype Ianvisits device in place as of last night :) all best, Joanna

  27. Phil says:

    I have jackdaws, doves and pigeons around here (they fill the garden if i leave an old loaf out) but none on my feeder – i just have a real simple one (like the first picture) but no perchs at all, the type for peanuts.
    There are little birds at it every day and never have i seen anything larger.
    I imagine that they couldnt get anything even if they tried – the peanuts being too large to knock out and their beaks being too large to fit in!
    The odd blackbird will be seen waiting underneath for excess to drop.
    So perhaps worth trying switching to peanuts! just saying…

  28. Alison says:

    Thank you for the laugh and the excellent idea…. I was beginning to despair. I don’t even mind the squirrels but these pesky batrat/giant grey hummingbird creatures were driving me ‘nuts’. Even a ground feeder cage could be adapted likewise….Who would have thought that such a simple idea would work….GENIUS!
    I am sooooo excited (yes I do need to get out!) I shall be pigeon proofing my feeders tomorrow. YEAH!

  29. Ginta says:

    Love pigeons and see absolutely nothing wrong of sharing the food scraps, bird food with them. Sad that people find this a problem. For me it is like racism.

    • Sally May says:

      Thank goodness someone else out there shares my view of the larger birds. Everything comes into my garden and I love them all. When the starlings descend I just think ‘here comes the gang again’ and remember their miraculous and beautiful sky dance. The babies are delightful. Ginta is absolutely right, it IS like racism and pigeons etc are only trying to survive just like everything else that lives. Get a life you people!

      • Franklmx says:

        I do feed the pigeons (and the squirrels) but if I didn’t devise a way to protect some food for the smaller birds they would never get any. The neighbors aren’t real appreciative of the pigeons hanging around, either. A friend in our town was approached by the authorities and made to remove all her bird feeders due to a neighbor complaining about the pigeons. Don’t want that to happen to me!

  30. Alibongo says:

    I have a Guardian feeder which is supposed to keep pigeons and bigger birds away from seed. Great in principle but the flying rats cling onto the guardian and poke their greedy heads through the holes! I have been quite successful with my adaption; I have covered the bigger mesh of the guardian with chicken wire, just around the feeding points and it has stopped the pigeons from reaching the feed. They are persevering, sometimes 3 hanging on the cage trying to reach in, but so far they have failed. I am going to try and fix the chicken wire on more securely and get a smaller mesh too. The smaller birds simply hop into the cage elsewhere and are quite happy.

  31. Iain says:

    Brilliant idea!! I spend at least 20 mins every other day washing pigeon shit off my patio and patio furniture. I am defo going to try this to give the little birdies a chance.

  32. dancer says:

    I’m dying to share my new and working pigeon deterrent with you! It’s cheap, easy and so simple! Can’t believe no-one came up with it before!
    I put those tray things under my feeders to catch the spills and all it did was act as a platform for the pigeon while it emptied my precious feeders and denied all the smaller birds access. Or food. I got fed up with running up and down my garden like a demented nutter waving my arms about and screaming at the robbers while they gawped at me like I wasn’t even there and then casually lifted off when I was within striking distance (not that I would have. Honest.)
    So I tried everything. I cannot afford to feed at the rate they stuff it down and also can’t afford the special cages (I had one and the small birds wouldn’t go in it) so I had to get clever.
    I looked at roofs where pigeon deterrents have been nailed along the top…then I went to the local pound shop (guess that’s Wal-Mart or something in USA), picked up a bag of plastic cable ties for next to nothing and got creative. The basic idea is that pigeons won’t land anywhere where their wings might be compromised so I pushed the ties up through the drip holes in the tray (taped underneath so they stay upright) and that’s enough to keep the greedy buggers off!!! Totally safe for the other birds and don’t rust or break or affect other birds feeding. Just seems to keep the pigeons off. Result.
    Try it.
    Now. If anyone has an idea for how to keep rain out of my sunflower seed feeder…

  33. Andy Barker says:

    For sunflower seed I use a nut feeder with surround cage to keep off larger birds. The wood pigeons seem content just to stay on the ground and feed on whatever seed falls down. Recent persistent heavy rain in the UK has made me think more about purchasing/making feeders that keep birdfood dry including bird feeders on the ground.

  34. Eric says:

    Your description was spot on! Greedy, hummingbird, snake necked, nuisances. I was just looking for a pigeon proof feeder and I got a good laugh to go with it. Thanks for both!

  35. Dave says:

    Ha! Great experiment! I hope some manufacturer takes you up on your free design idea. Pigeons are such a nuisance, your idea sounds like it may keep these giant flying rats at bay!

  36. Lindy Campbell says:

    As others have said, I was having the same problem with pidgeons and agree wholeheartedly with all the hilarious descriptions of this very clever bird’s antics. They almost equate to seagulls but I won’t go there! I bought this little feeder and happily, hopefully placed it in my small back garden. At first, it was bliss watching the sparrows and other small birds coming to feed whilst nesting in bushes and trees nearby. I felt I was helping the local bird population to nest, lay their eggs, warm them til they hatched, with a little extra bit of food as sometimes the ground is so dry they must surely struggle to get the worms they need for their young. Then enters the big fat controller, the already overwight sleek and beady eyed monster bird. They chase all the small ones away and take over or try to, the feeder, emptying it in minutes, no sharing there! I’m sorry to have to say that I do not like pidgeons or crows for that matter especially when I saw a crow raid a blackbird nest and eat their young! Anyway the long and short of it is that I went on a quest to find a feeder that would keep the pidgeon OUT. Ian, you are awesome! I laughed all the way through your post and when I read the replys I thought there are so many with the same problem and enjoyed reading those as well. One addition to the sticks( I used bamboo skewers) I wanted to catch the overflow so attached with wire a plastic round plant dish, the ones used to sit pots in. Not big enough to provide a footing for pidgeons, I might add! The skewers have to be positioned and secured so as to keep pidgeons from gaining a place to latch onto. I haven’t seen a pidgeon since I did this!! Have I won? We shall see but thanks Ian for sharing your adventure.

  37. Mrs Celia Padvis says:

    So pleased to have come across this ongoing deep discussion on how to persuade those flying vandals – pigeon and starlings – from taking over gardens. I’ve stopped pigeons from using my feeders by fitting Gardman Squirrel Baffles (perspex domes) to them. I’d made the feeders out of ‘stuff’ from a well-known DIY chain to get the taller poles I wanted (think hanging basket brackets etc) & they hold the domes, fitted over the feeders, clear of the poles. The pigeons cannot get up underneath the domes and this also keeps food dry. I’ve got plant trays attached to the feeders underneath – to catch dropped seed – which I had to do after discovering a rat had joined the throng a while back (and very clever they are too). The smaller birds and Blackbirds are all fine but if pigeons land on the feeder brackets they find they simply can’t get to the food! Unfortunately this year, for the first time, Starlings have become a problem! I’ll take some tips from here and have a go at solving the access for them – but without stopping everything else – so the battle goes on. Who needs crosswords to keep an active brain when there are puzzles like this to work on! (Oh – and by the way we DID have squirrels visiting which were living nearby too – but the Squirrel Baffles worked.)

  38. David Burns says:

    I’m pleased that I’m not the only sufferer. I really enjoyed reading some of the ingenious solutions and amusing posts above.I tried a lot of the options listed and eventually found success by using a couple of the hemispherical wire formers used for making hanging baskets, using them like a clam shell to hold a sunflower seed feeder, with the hinge at the top of what is now a sphere. The holes in the formers can be reduced in size by using garden twine so that only the smaller birds get through.

  39. Bobbi says:

    I’ve just found this page and it’s really useful. One problem I haven’t seen mentioned, which is my main problem, how do I stop the rooks lifting the feeders off the hook? I’ve tried heavier feeding tubes, but they end up on the ground as well – at least they don’t break as many of the others have. I only have a small paved area, so I have to hang the feeders from the usual metal feeding station with four arms. Tying the feeders to the hook hasn’t stopped the removal, or at least my efforts to tie the feeders to the hooks hasn’t worked. Any creative ideas?

    I will be making a mesh cover for the ground feeders tomorrow as that is a great idea. Thank you for that one.

  40. Floyd says:

    Try this. get a large bird cage and cut every other bar. Cut them near the top so you can bend some of them down for perches. Put a bird feeder in the middle of the cage floor. You can use this for a ground feeder too. All large birds will be excluded. Small birds will eventually go in to feed, just sprinkle a little seed on the floor so they get the idea. You can feed the larger birds separately if you like, but this insures that the smaller birds can eat.

  41. Dave says:

    Great idea! I’ve just had a look to see if anybody tool you up on your free design and I can’t see anything yet, which is a pity. I do actually like pigeons but can see why you would want to keep them away from feeders meant for more colourful species.

  42. Franklmx says:

    I don’t know if this holds true for all pigeons everywhere but the pigeons at my house won’t eat popcorn, and the sparrows love it! They line the wires above my backyard and wait for their twice daily servings. The pigeons don’t touch it. I makes several batches at once and store it in 2 gallon ziplock bags.

  43. sofia candice says:

    i have mourning doves that were born on my fire escape last march. i want them to continue living in their birthplace and have taken to putting out appropriate food for them. they are very kind and sweet birds. however, today i was horrified to find 6 giant pigeons fighting over the doves’ food and there are no doves to be found. they have not returned all day. have they been scared away by the pigeons?

    how do i feed the doves without having this giant flock of fighting pigeons congregating on my fire escape?

    i am worried my neighbors will report me to the landlord as some crazed-pigeonflock-attracting tenant now.

    suggestions please?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *