Q What damage do pigeons do in the garden?
A Wood pigeons have a voracious appetite for brassicas, including spring cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and will deterrents quickly strip the leaves off these plants until they are down to bare stalks. Damage is often worst in the autumn and winter when frosts kill off the wild plants the pigeons feed on, although they’ll happily take buds off fruit bushes in the spring, too.
Caption: Pigeons tend to cause most damage in autumn and winter
Q How much of a problem are pigeons?
A Wood pigeons numbers are booming in UK gardens, with a current population of around 2.7 million. It suggests that as more farmers are now growing oil seed rape, wood pigeons have found a great source of food to get them through winter
Q What are effective pigeon deterrents?
A Which? Gardening magazine has tested different pigeon deterrents and found the following the ones the most effective:
This simple (and cheap) barrier solution was the most effective at keeping pigeons off the young spring cabbages. At the end of our trial, only 1% of the plot showed significant pigeon damage. It was time-consuming to set up and tended to rip where it was in contact with supporting stakes. Remember to check netting daily so no birds or animals become entangled.
Caption: Netting brassicas helps to keep out pigeons
There are lots of different sonic scarers – we tried the battery-powered Aosion ultrasonic scarer. They work by emitting a high-pitched noise when they detect movement. Some people can hear this, but for many it is inaudible or can only be heard if you’re close to the ground. Housed in a discreet green box, it was easy to set up and very effective at keeping pigeons away from our spring cabbages – only 14% had been pecked to pieces by the end of the trial.
We bought our kite from Sky High Kites. It flew in the lightest of breezes and worked well to keep pigeons away from the plot. By the end of the trial, only 16% of the plants were showing significant pigeon damage. It discouraged the pigeons across a very wide area, so would be ideal for an allotment. The downside was that the line was prone to tangling, although this could be easily solved by threading an angler’s line swivel through the cord.