F-Ing Owls, How Do They Work?

Here’s the thing. Many property owners in San Francisco seem to think that life size owl statues placed as if perching on the edge of the rooftops will be a deterrent to the local pigeon population. I can go along with that as an idea. The scarecrow, right? Sounds good. But does it actually work? Internet people, via search engines, seem to think that they don’t work unless they’re selling them.

I decided to do something similar to what an actual journalist would do and took a look around.

Fake And Ineffectual

Here we find a little trio (they’re not a “gang” just because they’re chilling together) relaxing on some garbage cans under the watchful eyes of the owl. No threat here. No thought that the “owl”, a natural predator, would ever swoop down and snatch them up. Are they co-existing or do they even notice?

Owls And Pigeons

Here we see two pigeons hanging with two owls. No problem. Everyone’s cool. Jokes on us, they’re actually having a good time together. They enjoy the company.

My thought, the pigeons (Rock Dove sounds nicer) are such urban creatures that they don’t recognize that the owls are supposed to resemble another bird. They think it’s part of a Community Thrift pickup that was left behind. They’d no sooner expect it to come down upon them like a fierce beast of fury than they would cower under an old broken Mr. Coffee.

What do you people think? In any case, I enjoy seeing fake owls around. I think we should mix it up, though. A vulture here and there. Maybe two swans to make pigeons fall in love. A dodo to make them feel superior. Then a peacock to bring them back down to size.

12 Responses to “F-Ing Owls, How Do They Work?”

  1. Hellen says:

    this is an adorable post

  2. Ralph says:


  3. Edward says:

    Aren’t owls nocturnal predators? Maybe the ruse only works by night.

    On a loopily related topic, Germans are always putting up these bird silhouette window stickers intended to keep pigeons and whatnot from crashing into the glass. How does that work? The implication of the soaring bird picture seems to be “birds fly here all the time”.

    Example: http://tiny.cc/6nkgd

    • PeterC says:

      So hilariously true. The silhouette birds are always in flight and often times in multiple directions, seems to whisper “Come join the no limits flight party going on right here.”

  4. I have one of those owls on top of a cupboard next to my cockatiels’ cages. They totally don’t care.

  5. Ariel Dovas says:

    Oh, two more things:

    1) I lived in this building for my high school years and don’t remember ever having a pigeon problem, so . . .

    2) Remember that kid who wrote that song that sounded like a The Postal Service song but way more annoying? That bugged.

  6. SFDIGIFILM says:

    The Pigeon Whisperer -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGkOIlc2CtM

    Best scene in the film Baby Mama is when what’s-his-name is installing owls on the balcony.

  7. brian says:

    Totally agree with urban creatures thing. I’m amazed at how desensitized they are to people sometimes.

    “We had a deal!”

  8. JP says:

    Nice investigative reporting.
    I have been surprised to see an owl (live) swoop by when in Dolores Park, but maybe bumpkin Dolores pigeons don’t talk with the urban pigeons…or none who see the Dolores owl live to tell the tale.

  9. Emily says:

    I have also found that f-ing pigeons don’t give a hoot (pun intended) about owls. I live in downtown Tucson, which is hardly metropolitan, and sometimes I actually hear REAL owls! Still, the false owl that my neighbor put up on her ledge was KNOCKED down by the pigeon. On my other neighbor’s ledge, they knocked down a cat-scratching post. On my ledge, they knocked down a larger, less realistic but way more freaky-looking owl made of copper, a ceramic squirrel, and some BRICKS. Now there’s one to ponder: How does an animal whose bones are light enough to allow it to fly dislodge and fling a brick? Now when they come around I swat at them with a broom.

  10. chalkman says:

    One of the Dolores Park hawks moved into my neighbors tree and bagged so many pigeons in our collective yards that mother pigeons frighten their young with tales of it…

  11. sergdun says:

    my Dad got one of those fake owls to stop a woodpecker from trying to live in his attic. Didn’t work either.