Pigeons are among the most common birds that you can see on your terrace. These are found worldwide except for a few of the islands. Since many species of pigeons live in cities, in the densely human-populated areas, people generally wonder what do pigeons eat? I did a little bit of research and found out the typical food included in the pigeon’s diet.
So, what do pigeons eat? Pigeons eat a wide assortment of seeds, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and sporadically eat small quantities of insects and earthworms in the wild.
Diet of a Pigeon
Pigeons are highly adaptive birds that can adjust themselves according to the environment.
For a long time, pigeons have learned to live around in human habitat and adapted their diet according to it.
At the same time, there are a lot of species of pigeons that live in wilds in their natural habitat and are continuing without changing any of their habits.
Pigeons Diet Around Human Habitation
Pigeons are the most intelligent birds in the world. They were predominantly used during the First World War as message carries. Today, they are mostly used for sports racing and as a source of food. They are commonly found in big cities, but some are bred domestically.
Feral rock doves, popularly known as rock pigeons are the most famous pigeons that live in urban areas of the United States. I have seen one of them feeding on a fried chicken, which is very unusual. This shows that pigeons have a huge range of items that they’ve started eating while living in cities.
The following are the general food items that pigeons like to eat in cities (around human habitation).
- Dried peas
- Pearl Millets
- French fries (not good for their health)
Wild Pigeons Diet
Wild is the natural environment for the pigeons, and here they eat whatever their natural instincts tell them to eat.
Pigeons are natural seedeaters so obviously, grass seeds in the wild are the most common food for wild pigeons. Wild pigeons have also included many fruits in their diet, such as apples and berries.
Wild (feral) pigeons also eat small snails and worms in the breeding season, which starts from mid-March and extends up to mid-October.
So, these are the things that wild pigeons eat.
- Grass seeds
- Wild Grains
- Berries (occasionally)
- Snails and earthworms (only in the breeding season
- Green leaf
- Fruits such as apples, grapes, etc
Feeding Your Pet Pigeon
As a pet pigeon owner, it is your responsibility to maintain a well balanced nutritious diet for your pet pigeon. You can buy commercial food for pet pigeons, which in most cases is convenient and healthy. But if you want to prepare food for your pet yourself, then that is even better.
An average pigeon eats 30 grams of food per day, which should be a mixture of grain seeds, oilseeds, fruits, and vegetables in their right proportion. And don’t forget to feed enough water to your pigeon because it helps in food digestion.
Make sure you are feeding these food items to your pet pigeon in the right proportion.
Seeds (Grains and oilseeds)
Seeds are the most essential part of your pigeon’s diet. The commercial food for pigeons includes a mixture of seeds, vegetables, grains, and other things for essential nutrients and minerals. You can feed pearl millets, wheat, cracked corn, and cereals.
The balanced diet should contain seeds as half of the pigeon’s diet and 15% as oilseeds. Oilseeds include safflower, sunflower, etc. The oil helps to nourish their wings and keep their body immune to various diseases.
Fruits and Vegetables
Well chopped fruits and green vegetables should be a necessary part of pet pigeon’s diet. These should be given at least 3-4 times every week. Lettuce, grapes, apples, spinach are the most common fruits and veggies that pigeons like to eat.
These provide with all the remaining nutrients, minerals, and vitamins needed for the healthy growth of a pigeon. Among fruits, avocado should not be fed to pigeons as it harms their immune system.
Make sure you first wash the vegetables and fruits. Then chop them finely and serve them to your pet pigeons. Peeling of fruits or vegetables is not necessary while feeding them to your pet pigeons.
Water is an essential part of pigeon’s diet. It helps in the proper digestion and absorption of nutrients in their body. Sufficient fresh water should be served at least two times per day in a separate bowl.
Don’t forget to wash the dishes regularly. If you see the bowl empty at any time, refill it with fresh water.
What Do Baby Pigeons Eat?
What do baby pigeons eat naturally? Naturally, baby pigeons drink crop milk or pigeon milk, which is produced by both male and female parent pigeons in their crop. Crop milk is basically half-digested food eaten by the parent pigeon.
It is a little whitish in color resembling milk, but it is not milk. Birds don’t produce milk as mammals do. It is comfortable for a baby pigeon to drink and digest.
What to feed a rescued or a pet baby pigeon? Rescued or pet baby pigeons can’t be fed with crop milk as parent pigeon produces it. In this case, I advise you to buy proper baby pigeon food from the pet store. Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding for Baby Birds is the one that I recommend.
In an unexpected situation, when you can’t buy baby pigeon food from the store, you can prepare a diet yourself. So, baby pigeons, in this case, can be fed with oat + water mixture or dog biscuits + water mixture with the help of a tube.
Before refeeding, always make sure that the baby pigeon’s crop is empty. You can check it by touching its crop. If you feel some food in it, then don’t feed the pigeon as overfeeding can harm it.
What Not To Feed Pigeons?
As a pigeon keeper, you need to feed them properly to ensure their good health and well-being. However, certain foods can affect the health and well-being of your pigeons.
The following are the foods that can damage your pigeon’s health.
Apple seeds and fruit seeds
Most fruits are healthy and safe for pigeons, but only in small quantities. However, certain fruits species that contain seeds and pits are not safe for your pigeons, unless you remove the pits and seeds. Typical examples of fruits that contain seeds include pears and apples.
Typical examples of fruits that contain pits include plums, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and apricots. The reason is that the pits and seeds have traces of a compound called cardiac-toxic cyanide that is toxic for not only pigeons but other wild and domestic birds as well.
Chocolate is a hard-to-resist food item and because of its sweet flavor, even pigeons can’t resist it. But chocolate is not suitable for the health and well-being of your pigeons.
Why? Because it is laden with caffeine and theobromine, which can cause hypersensitivity in your pigeons.
Symptoms of hypersensitivity include seizures, tremors, increased heart rate, diarrhea, and vomiting, all of which can cause death in pigeons.
It’s an artificial sweetener used in a variety of diet foods. Studies have shown that it causes liver damage, hypoglycemia, and could cause death in animals.
Pigeons are so sensitive to the damaging effects of this substance because of their faster rate of metabolism. So, even a small amount can affect the pigeons. Therefore, it’s recommended to not offer any food that contains Xylitol to your pigeons.
It’s widely documented that too much salt is harmful to your health and well-being. The same applies to pigeons. In fact, if salt is toxic to humans, then pigeons can suffer much graver effects.
For example, just one salty piece of cracker, popcorn, or chips can quickly affect the fluid and electrolyte balance of a pigeon because of its tiny body.
Potential effects of salty food on pigeons include dehydration, extreme thirst, and dehydration. It could cause death if the pigeon consumes too much salty food. Therefore, if you really want to offer some snacks for your pigeons, it’s a good idea to go with unsalted popcorns, crackers, or chips.
People know that green vegetables are healthy foods, so when you say that avocado can be toxic to pigeons, you’re likely to get icy stares. However, avocado leaves are toxic for pigeons because they contain a substance called persin that disseminates fungus contained in the plant.
So, when a pigeon consumes any food that contains this substance, it would result in respiratory issues, heart damage, weakness, or even death.
Conclusion: What Do Pigeons Eat?
A good routine is to allow your pigeon to get out of its cage and find food itself.
Pigeons can find their way home from many miles away. So, you won’t worry about them getting lost.
If you insist on feeding your pigeons, avoid the foods explained above in their diet. The best foods for pigeons are cereal grains, millet, barley, wheat, cracked corn, and sunflower.
Do Pigeons Eat Bread? Pigeons are often seen feeding on bread, but pieces of bread contain complex carbohydrates that do not provide any nutritional value to the pigeons. It means it is considered junk for pigeons and can even let them starve.
Can Pigeons Eat Rice? Yes, pigeons love to eat rice. Contrary to a myth that feeding rice to pigeons make their stomach to explode, which is completely untrue, rice is actually one of the favorite grains of pigeons.
How Did the Passenger Pigeon become Extinct?