How to keep Pigeons off a bird table

Yet another  person has had the same problem as I’ve had.  Lynda says

I have lots of pigeons feeding on my table, but no small birds,   the pigeons scare them off,

I want to feed the birds but not attract a gang of pigeons and I have even had a pair of magpies who I think have been looking for water. would a ground feeding cage be better?


There are a few ways to keep large birds off bird food.  One way is not to use a bird table but to use a caged hanging bird feeder.  Below is a photo of my caged peanut feeder when it was brand new.

It has lasted a long time.  It has been great to see a lot of smaller birds feeding safely inside the cage as it hangs in the garden.


Squirrels and large birds were  the reason I bought this caged nut feeder a while ago.    CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO SEE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS FEEDER

You can also get CAGED SEED FEEDERS


Putting bird food into any hanging feeder seems to keep off larger birds.

Here is a budget SEED FEEDER AND TRAY FOR £12.99 plus postage

I have found the ground feeder useful and it’s been fun watching the birds.  It has lasted me ages.    Mine has a wire seed tray and a green meshed cover, which allows only small birds in.





The problem with the above methods is that THEY KEEP OUT BLACKBIRDS AND THRUSHES.   I was recently told of a  brilliant way to keep  pigeons out but lets  blackbirds and thrushes in – as well as the smaller garden birds.

It’s great!  I’m getting loads of  garden birds on the birdtable now and all the pigeons, rooks and crows have given up. 

Thurshes and blackbirds spend ages on the birdtable since I have started to use this method. 

What you do is – You  put garden canes round the bird table.    This has been the best way for me to keep large birds off bird tables.  As I said blackbirds and thrushes as well as the smaller garden birds can get onto the bird table  when the canes are surrounding it – and believe me I get lots of birds feeding on the bird table now. .  It may look a bit odd but it works

New and unique way to keep pigeons away



To read more click the link



A reader told me  yesterday (13.8.09)  that she  got an old, large, empty hanging basket.  She turned it upside down and has put this on  her open top birdtable.  It has become a barrier to stop the pigeons and rooks  eating the bird food and keeping away the small garden birds.

She said it’s lovely to see the small birds inside it eating merrily and contentedly away.


[ad#125x125square]I’m sorry you’re having trouble with large birds, but glad that I’m not on my own.  I’ve given some ordinary and some unusual suggestions for keeping pigeons off bird tables.  Hope it helps.

I have to wage a bird feeding war  on rooks, crows, pigeons, pheasants and even farm hens that seem to think the food is there just for them to eat in one minute!

Will have a look back at other methods I’ve learnt to keep large birds away.

 I wouldn’t recommend you do what I did last summer.  I spent ages trying to make my bird table safe for smaller birds –

Trying to keep large birds off the bird table

Trying to keep large birds off the bird table

This worked for a few days, but the pigeons and other birds just got through the wire in the end!  It was worth a try.


Hope readers will  send me any photos you have and any notes on how you keep pigeons off bird tables.

30 thoughts on “How to keep Pigeons off a bird table

  1. Frank

    I have the same problem with piegons I put 40mm steel mesh on each side (one side opens for access).
    The pesky piegons still come but are not able to get at the food
    Note 50mm mesh starlings can get in and are as bad if not worse than piegons 40mm mesh is not freely available I found some after looking for ages at a local iron mongers that sells wire no big DIY chains stock 40mm.any smaller would be difficult for some birds to get in.

  2. Trish Post author

    Thank you for this. It could really help me. I suppose the 40mm mesh will keep out blackbirds as well?

    You see I am trying to find something that will let blackbirds and thrushes in but keep starlings out. But I know this is impossible as they are the same size bird.

    But it will really help me with pigeons that are about all the time at the moment. It get be annoying when I see the bird feed being eaten by pigeons. We have a local iron mongers / farm shop that I will try next week.

    Thank you again. Trisha

  3. Thomas

    I live in the very center of London and have been having real problems with feral pigeons. I don’t mind them as such (I’m not a pigeon hater) but they eat the whole lot and cause the table to wobble and tilt scaring the other birds away. They leave my hanging feeders alone, but the table has been a problem.

    I have now built a cage around the table using green garden mesh wire I bought from B&Q and it totally keeps the pigeons off, but allows all the other birds on. I attached it to the roof and use some bamboo sticks to make it rigid. I then just clipped away a couple of the sections and this allows the blackbirds and on rare occasions thrushes to still get on through these larger gaps, once they learn which route to take. Its fun when I turn it around after cleaning because they then have to go through the process of figuring out a way in again.

    The pigeons now only get to eat the scraps that the messy blackbird throws out whilst its sifting through for the raisins.

    Incidently about the starlings, don’t be too angry about them, there numbers have declined dramatically over the last few years and nobody really knows why. Plus they are so comical when you actually watch them.

  4. COLIN

    Hi, I am trying to feed a family of blackbirds but stop pigeons getting to their food but no idea what to use – can anyone help.

  5. Trish Post author

    I know the feeling. I don’t know if you have read the two pieces of advice above your comment. But they give two different options. Also meshed ground guard covers are a good idea. The mesh is adjustable to let you choose what size of birds you let in. Here is a link –,default,pd.html

    I have the same problem as you and I put grated cheese / bird food underneath shrubs and in part of a hedge bottom. The blackbirds seem to spend a lot of time hopping about in hedges on the ground and they soon catch on there is food there. I don’t see many pigeons in the hedgebottom. I know you have to be careful with vermin and I usually put the bird food on a plastic lid. Let me know how you come on.
    I was going to get some 40mm wire but have not been able to find any. I was going to use the plastic garden mesh but I could not get it tight enough and was worried the birds would get caught in the loose wire. I use a meshed ground guard cover but the problem I have is that if I have the mesh open to a large size then sometimes starlings get in as well as blackbirds. You may not have that problem.

    There are also mesh covered birdtables. Blackbirds come to my bird tables so they would come to meshed bird tables wouldn’t they?

    It is a problem. Think which option would be best for you. Let me know how you get on. Trisha

  6. George Brett

    I have just joined the throng to attracted garden birds and bought a standing feeder with three hanging feeders a feeding tray and a water bowl. At first I had robins and other small birds. Then along came the pigeons. They couldn’t get to the hanging feeders but perched in the tray and had their fill.

    What I have done is to place the water bowl immediately above the feeder tray so that hopefully they can no longer perch there but there is room for the little birds to feed.

    Not sure of results yet but so far they have come but flown away again. May help some of you.

  7. Trish Post author

    Hi George, Thanks for this. There is such a lot of good information here I will put it all together so it will help other people.
    I have just started a form called
    I have used your solution on the forum. I will pop the others on when I have time. It is a new forum. It has only been hatched a day so there aren’t any members yet. Hopefully there will be some birdy people popping into the forum soon who will gain and give advice.

  8. Katt

    You need to judge your garden situation. Each bird needs to be catered for in different ways. I find that if you scatter bird food or scraps round your garden not just on or in the feeders the pigeons will happily feed from the ground. We have a large community of birds in our garden from blue tits, coal tits, great tits, sparrows, chaffinches, greenfinches, doves, pigeons and also the shy nuthatch, wren, goldcrest, black cap, woodpecker, bullfinch etc. and because of this we have never had a problem. Personally I like to watch our fat pigeon strutting around the garden, he has a very distinct character and is humourous in his manner. If you find ways to accomadate all of the birds in your garden whether or not you think they are vermin then a happy community can and will build up. Too many cages makes for wary birds and the freer the feeding area the better. I also find if you situate your feeders amongst bushes, surround them with greenery then there is more cover for these wary creatures. I could go on forever but I’ll stop here, hope this helps.

  9. Pingback: Should we keep pigeons o | Bird Table News

  10. Trish Post author

    Hi Katt, I replied to your very interesting observations. I did reply on birdtable news and this is what I put –
    Thank you Kat for replying. I think you are right that every birds needs to be catered for in different ways.

    Wow. You do have a lot of birds come to your garden don’t you. You must be like me and get through a lot of bird food.

    It may seem strange, but I also find pigeons amusing as they strutt about, but it is when they take all the bird food that it becomes a problem. I still get pigeons taking food off the ground – but they eat so much!

    I also really like to see birds flitting free to the bird food. It is really amusing and interesting to see the different birds feeding together (I mean the small garden birds) and I myself do use an old garden bush as a place to put bird food. I also hang bird feeders from branches.

    So it seems like we have a lot in common! Maybe the only thing we don’t have in common is the number of pigeons who come to our gardens.

    Strangely enough we have also been getting rooks and crows in our garden. They usually don’t come this time of year.

    When I started bird feeding I had one birdtable. That was a long time ago. But I now, like you, use different parts of the garden to put bird food out. I know friends who have one birdtable and they get loads of birds feeding – which is great.

    I sometimes wonder if it’s because I live in the countryside that I’m getting so many garden birds. Will have to ask Chris Packham or Bill Oddie!

    I also realise you don’t need a garden to put birdfood out. I’ve seen fat balls hanging from a town car park, and bird food scattered near a tree in a town. I’ve also seen wall fitted bird tables. I’d love to hear from anyone who has a window feeder. I tried one, but it did not attract any birds.

    I suppose different areas, different gardens will have a different variety of birds and so birdfeeding will be different in each garden. Maybe that’s what makes it so interesting.

    Thanks for replying and getting in contact. It is really good to hear other people’s views. That is what I enjoy about Bird Table News – getting views, advice and ‘meeting’ people who also like bird feeding. Great to hear from you – please do send more and ‘go on’ a little more if you have time.


    Am having some technical problems with birdtable news. Hope you can get back sometime to give some more comments.

  11. Marion

    A few years ago the pigeons began to take over our bird friendly garden. We tried putting food in a variety of places and of course the hanging sunflower seed feeders are safe but the pigeons snaffle most food on the ground so we shall reluctantly be getting a cage. Tried putting out grain just for the pigeons but they are insatiable! The thrush is chased off by the blackbirds so I pop food under the bushes. Feel privileged to have a thrush at long last; there are masses of snails for him/her. I put fat (lard and peanut butter) on the bark of trees for the woodpecker and and various tits.

  12. Trish Post author

    seems like you have the same problem as me. Pigeons can eat a lot of food. A cage is good, but blackbirds and thrushes cannot get the food from inside a cage.

    It is strange how bossy blackbirds chase away timid thrushes. It happens here as well.

    At the moment I have some canes stuck in the ground with bits of wood and metal around it. this lets the blackbirds and thrushes in but keeps out the larger birds.
    Will put a photo on birdtablenews soon
    Thanks for getting in touch and pleased you are having some success bird feeding

  13. Brenda

    Hi everyone,,I am new here and have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your comments. I am really enjoying feeding the birds in the garden and have blue tits,great tits,long tail tits,coal tits along with gold finches,green finches,chaffinces and a black cap along with others. But after seeing a sparrowhawk fly over a few times 2 weeks ago,,the little birds seem to have dwindles drastically. Today for instance I think I saw 2 siskins,2 goldfinches and 1 robin and that was my lot. Is the sparrow hawk the cause of this,and will they return? I do so hope so. Thanks for reading my comment,,hope you can help me.

  14. Trish Post author

    Hi Brenda, Pleased you are enjouing the comments from everyone. Welcome

    You do have a lot of birds – blue tits,great tits,long tail tits,coal tits along with gold finches,green finches,chaffinces and a black cap along plus more.

    Yes, I do think it will be the sparrowhawk that is keeping the birds away. Better they stay away than be attacked.

    Songbird Survival is a good website to look at. Part of what they are doing is researching why Sparrowhawks are increasing in number.

    Where birds gather round birdtables you will often get sparrowhawks gathering there as well. I suppose it is nature that birds gather where there is food. Garden birds gather at our feeders and Sparrowhawks gather to catch the birds.

    There are things you can do – feed in a caged feeder is one. Put food inside a prickly hedge is another as Sparrowhawks will not risk damaging their feathers by going inside a spiky hedge.

    I hope the sparrowhawk goes and the birds come back.

  15. patsy

    Hi everyone, have enjoyed reading all your comments i shall try some of your ideas to keep all the pigions out of my garden as they have driven off all the small birds away i still have my robins and blackbirds i put out apples on the ground for the blackbirds they seem to be the only ones who enjoy them it is a pleasure to watch them pecking away. hope i can attrct my small birds back , i have enclosed bird feeders around but the pigions seem to stop the little ones coming in. do try the apples for blackbirds its lovely to watch .

  16. Helen

    You’re all marvelous, spending the time to think of solutions to help all us birdlovers,

    Keep doing it !

  17. patricia gow

    i have a problem keeping pigeons away from hanging bird feeders. they pick up crumbs little birds drop and making such a mess off my lawn. whaat caan i do. help please i look so silly to my neighbours constantly rushing in and out my back door chasing them away 🙂

  18. Trish Post author

    Hi Patricia, Sorry for the delay in replying. did not see your question

    One way would be to attach a tray to the bottom of the handing bird feeder. The tray catches the food that the little birds drop.

    If you click on the link below and scroll to the bottom of the article you’ll see a photo of a hanging bird feeder with a tray attached. Let me know if that helps

    It’s nice to know that other people rush in and out of the house to try to sort the problems with garden bird feeding

  19. Jo-ann

    I too get very frustrated with the greedy pigeons, and also spend alot of time chasing them away. I have counted 9 on many occasions!!!! They are insatiable and I begrudge paying the money for all the lovely different types of food! Ive only really become interested this past year but have always had a bird table. The squirrels aren’t a problem as they only take the nuts and I even put shelled nuts out for them. I love watching them break open walnuts but it is messy cleaning up all the shells! I used to get lots of bluetits but haven’t seen any for ages, (maybe its all the pigeons). I get robins and a pair of sparrows! It’s the sparrows I’m desperately trying to serve as they seem to only feed on the ground. I put an old hanging table with a roof on the ground with lots of plants round for protection and the sparrows love it and come back and forth constantly but the pigeons found it and dont give up until its empty….and the mess they are making of my garden whilst fighting each other is driving me mad! I read lots of your comments and adapted the table by criss crossing garden canes and fastening them to the table….. The damn pigeons can still get their heads in…..I went out last week and bought a caged ground feeder, my son cut the bottom off a big plastic plant pot for a roof to keep the food dry…… and guess what…..the pigeons can get their heads in… I just give up to keep my sanity and my bank balance or try to come up with another solution???? Aaaaaggggghhhhh I’m starting to hate pigeons!!!!!

  20. Dee

    I too had a problem with larger birds on the bird feeder so hubby nailed a stip of wood on either side of the feeder to restrict access & we now seem to have lots more smaller birds enjoying it ,,,,

  21. Trish Post author

    Jo, Bird feeding is supposed to be a relaxing way to be close to nature, but we all know that isn’t the case. Bird feeding can drive you mad sometimes.

    Sparrows do feed from hanging feeders. I’ve never seen a pigeon balancing on a hanging feeder. Maybe a hanging feeder could be the answer to one of your problems.

    Sorry the pigeons are causing such a problem. I have now put some canes into the soil, in a small circle. I’ve put some wire with large holes round the canes. The smaller birds can get in but the larger birds can’t. Blackbirds can get in – which is good. A lot of smaller birds perch on the hedge and fly into this strange feeder from the top. I will take a photo and put it on birdtablenews.


  22. Trish Post author


    What a brilliant idea. Is your feeder a hanging feeder or a bird table? I suppose it would work with both.

    I’ve seen rooks and crows balance on a hanging bird feeder and put their long beaks into the feeder holes. I had to stop using the hanging feeders because of it. Putting wood near it would stop their line of flight and their ability to balance on the feeder.

    Thank you for this

  23. Tim.T

    Believe it or not, but I have 4 hanging birds feeders attached to my porch and pigeons routinely knock them down and/or damage them while trying to get at the nuts/seeds. They literally copy the smaller birds and hang on to them! Either they’re smarter than the average pigeon, or they’re unusually determined. If I had a bird table it would be even worse. Fortunately I still attract blue tits/great tits/finches, but the pigeons are a real nuisance. If I use a ‘predator decoy’ wouldn’t that scare away all the birds, not just the pigeons? I’m out of ideas.

  24. Derek

    Hi – enjoyed reading all of the comments. I have cut off a bit of the perches on my hanging feeders so larger birds cannot sit on them. Works a treat. I hang fat balls from a branch on a bush and trim a clearing round them so that bigger birds cannot reach them. I have suspended the fat balls using green garden wire which goes through a hollow tube about 6″ long this will turn and prevent starlings clinging on. Below this hollow tube I have cut the bottom of a pot noodle carton and cut out a hole in the bottom. This acts as a cover for the fat ball. Summing up – the garden wire goes through tube then cover. I then feed wire through mesh on fat ball end twist it round itself a few times, lower the cover and tube. Bingo – only small birds can hang on to fat balls and they last so much longer. Hope this helps

  25. stella carry

    i have a fairly big garden with several large trees.I have feeders for fat balls in 4 of them but i like to put down meelie worms and fat pellets for the ground feeding birds, unfortunately the pidgeons eat every thing before the little birds get a chance

  26. Trish Post author

    Could you put the worms and pellets inside a ground caged feeder – or turn a wire hanging basket upside down and put it on the ground, then only the small birds will get inside

  27. Fiona

    I’ve enjoyed reading everyones comments. I love watching the birds feed from my kitchen window and have several hanging feeders with fat balls, seeds (as well as ‘no grow’ mix) peanuts and sunflower hearts and a ground feeder that I put mealworms, suet pellets, grated cheese and songbird mix in and a guardian table (the small birds don’t seem to be very keen on it but the bigger birds are able to stick their heads in and eat all the food) which I fill with similar and a tube suet feeder. This is all on my small patio!
    I attract blue tits, cold tits, dunnocks, and sparrows and I have a robin that appears now and again, 2 pairs of blackbirds, a couple of thrushes, a pair of collared doves and two pairs of wood pigeons that live in a large conifer in a neighbours garden as well as around 12 starlings and also for the first time this year, a magpie (which isn’t common to this area) which has put in an appearance a few times. My problem is that the pigeons and starlings (and magpie when it appears) snaffle all the food on the ground (especially the suet pellets) and also try hanging from the other feeders! I want to stop the starlings and pigeons stealing all the food and will often go outside to scare these birds away when the small birds aren’t feeding, but still want to cater for the blackbirds and thrushes but don’t really know what to do as the starlings are slightly smaller than the blackbirds so a large mesh guardian doesn’t seem to be the answer. I’ve noted that some of the comments about feeding the blackbirds have mentioned putting food under bushes and the like but living in a town, the place is full of rats so I also have to put down poison making sure that it is covered enough so the birds don’t eat it. Has anyone any ideas as it’s costing me a fortune in suet pellets especially. Thank you

  28. Trish Post author

    I know what you mean. It is nigh impossible to to feed blackbirds but not starlings. You can easily feed the smaller birds by putting the food in a wire mesh ground feeder.

    One of the things I have done is get some chicken wire that comes in a roll. I make a circle with the wire and use garden canes again to keep the wire upright. I throw the food inside this meshed ‘safe haven’ bird feeder. The wire mesh is big enough to let blackbirds, thrushes and the smaller garden birds in. The pigeons, magpies, crows cannot get into this circle so they walk about outside looking in and looking very annoyed. It can be so amusing.

    Here is a link to an article about another way to keep larger birds off bird food. You may not be able to do this – and it does look strange. It means you have to put garden canes round a bird table. The larger birds such as rooks, crows, pigeons cannot fly / balance to get onto the bird table. Blackbirds and smaller birds can. Unfortunately it means that starlings can get onto the bird table

    Thank you for getting in touch. I have not had an internet connection for ages, because of the storms. Here’s hoping that things are sorted now, but I don’t think so as I know there is another fault on the line

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