Can I spray a pigeon with water?

Quick Answer

It is generally not recommended to spray pigeons with water. Pigeons are a protected species in many areas, so spraying them could potentially be considered animal abuse or harassment and lead to fines or other legal consequences. There are more humane, effective ways to deter pigeons from an area, like installing bird deterrents.

Is It Legal to Spray Pigeons with Water?

In most places, it is legal to spray pigeons with water as long as it does not cause harm or suffering to the birds. However, there are some exceptions:

  • In the UK, pigeons are considered wildlife and it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, or take a pigeon under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • Several cities in the US specifically prohibit harassing, harming, or killing pigeons through municipal codes and ordinances.
  • Some apartment buildings, businesses, and public areas may have rules against bothering pigeons and other wildlife.

So while a quick spray of water is unlikely to cause real harm in most cases, it is best to refrain from spraying pigeons to avoid potential issues. Repeated spraying that drenches the birds could be considered harassment. And using harsh spray, like from a hose, may be forceful enough to injure pigeons.

Ethical Concerns of Spraying Pigeons

Aside from legal concerns, there are ethical issues to consider when deciding whether to spray pigeons with water:

  • Pigeons are living creatures capable of feeling cold, hunger, fear, and pain. Causing them distress should be avoided when possible.
  • While considered a nuisance by some, pigeons play an important role in the ecosystem as a food source for predators. Their existence benefits the natural order.
  • Pigeons have adapted well to urban environments. As this is their habitat, they have a right to utilize public spaces in cities.
  • There are more humane methods to deter pigeons, like blocking access to nesting spots or using decoys and repellents.
  • Spraying pigeons essentially punishes them for behaving naturally in their environment. More sustainable solutions should be sought.

With these ethical considerations in mind, it is best practice not to spray pigeons with water unless absolutely necessary.

Will Spraying Pigeons with Water Deter Them?

Spraying pigeons with water is generally an ineffective deterrent:

  • Pigeons have water-resistant feathers that protect them from getting soaked. A light spray will not bother them much.
  • They are highly adaptable birds that will return to an area for food and shelter once the immediate threat of spraying has passed.
  • Unless you constantly monitor an area and spray whenever pigeons appear, they will simply return once you are gone.
  • Pigeons may learn to avoid specific locations where they are sprayed, but will still frequent the general area nearby.
  • Removing food sources and blocking roosting spots is more effective to make an area less desirable to pigeons.

So an occasional spray from a hose or squirt gun may temporarily disrupt or annoy pigeons. But it will not provide reliable long-term deterrence in most cases. Other methods should be used instead.

Dangers of Spraying Pigeons

In some cases, spraying pigeons can be dangerous:

  • High-pressure hoses can injure pigeons, break bones, or knock birds from ledges
  • Prolonged exposure to water can cause hypothermia in cold weather
  • Baby pigeons may get separated from parents if scared away by spraying
  • Wet feathers may lose insulation and prevent pigeons from regulating body temperature
  • Water may damage nests and eggs, killing developing pigeon chicks
  • Detergents or cleaning solutions can poison pigeons if mixed with spray water

So while a quick, gentle spray from a spray bottle is relatively harmless in warm weather, more intense soaking can threaten the health and safety of pigeons in some situations. Care should be taken to avoid excessive spraying whenever possible.

Humane Ways to Deter Pigeons

If pigeons are causing a major nuisance in an area, there are several effective, humane methods to deter them:

  • Block access to potential nesting and roosting spots like eaves, overhangs, and ledges using metal spikes, slope barriers, or netting.
  • Install bird repellent gel on ledges and surfaces. The sticky texture deters landing and nesting.
  • Use decoys like plastic owls, rubber snakes, and hawk kites to scare pigeons away.
  • Apply bird repellent spikes, coils, or strips to uncomfortable but harmless surfaces.
  • Use noise deterrents like buzzers, ultrasonic devices, boom boxes, or recorded distress calls.
  • Limit food sources by properly containing trash in covered bins and cleaning up scattered food debris.

These methods create an inhospitable environment that encourages pigeons to relocate. But they do not harm or harass the birds. Exclusion and passive deterrence is the most sustainable, ethical approach to pigeon control.

Should I Call Wildlife Control About Pigeons?

For major pigeon infestations or high-risk areas like food facilities, it may be best to contact professional wildlife control services. Licensed specialists have access to advanced techniques like:

  • Installing netting barriers to block large roosting areas
  • Applying safe chemical bird repellents across expansive surfaces
  • Using automated laser or noise deterrent systems
  • Removing established nests and eggs humanely
  • Sealing off all possible indoor entry points

Professionals can assess the extent of the pigeon problem, identify key food sources and access points, and implement a customized solution for the situation at hand. This avoids amateur, knee-jerk responses like spraying birds with water. With their expertise, humane deterrence is ensured.

Important Things to Know About Pigeons

When considering whether to spray pigeons or how to manage them, it helps to understand some key facts about these birds:

  • Rock pigeons, the most common urban species, are a domesticated feral breed – not truly wild animals.
  • Due to their cliff nesting history, pigeons are well adapted to modern city infrastructure.
  • They are highly social and mate for life, sharing parenting duties when raising young.
  • Pigeons are incredibly intelligent, with problem solving skills on par with primates.
  • They can recognize human faces and demonstrate self-awareness in scientific tests.
  • Pigeon droppings may cause property damage but pose little actual health risk.
  • Racing and show pigeons are the same species but have been selectively bred.
  • Historical pigeon communication aided early postal services and saved soldiers’ lives in war.

So while their nesting habits may frustrate property owners at times, pigeons are far more than just “rats with wings”. They are uniquely adapted, family-oriented, smart birds that are very much at home among humans in urban spaces.


The answer to “can I spray pigeons with water?” is yes legally in many areas, but no ethically in most circumstances. Though a nuisance, pigeons do not deserve mistreatment. And spraying is ultimately an ineffective deterrent anyway. Physical exclusion, habitat modification, and professional help provide better long-term control that is humane for birds. With some clever techniques, pigeons can be safely discouraged from an area without resorting to spraying or other harassment. A little understanding of pigeon nature and needs goes a long way in finding a solution that works for both people and birds.

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