Healthy diets

What do Pigeons Eat? - Pigeon And Dove diet

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. July 30, 2019
What do Pigeons Eat? - Pigeon And Dove diet

Gradually, pigeons are losing their "bad reputation" as flying rats and re-gaining popularity as pets. Pigeon breeding has been taking place for centuries, mainly thanks to the fact that pigeons can adapt easily, are incredibly intelligent birds, and carry a great predisposition to learning when positive reinforcement is used.

Whether you’re thinking of staring a pigeon palomacy or are simply interested in knowing more about these birds, this article is for you! Keep reading here at AnimalWised to find out more about pigeons as pets and what do pigeons and doves eat.

You may also be interested in: What do Starfish Eat? - Starfish Diet
  1. What does a pigeon eat?
  2. What do wild pigeons eat?
  3. What do baby pigeon eat?
  4. What to feed a pigeon
  5. What not to feed pigeons
  6. What do doves eat?

What does a pigeon eat?

Like all animals, pigeons require a complete and balanced diet to maintain their good health. These birds will need to receive a balanced diet that meets the nutritional requirements of their species. This is incredibly important for them to fully develop their muscles and cognitive abilities.

Feeding pigeons is a key aspect when it comes to strengthening their immune system and prevent the appearance of common bird diseases. As some of these pathologies can be transmitted to humans and other animals, a pigeon's nutrition is also essential to also preserve the health of all the individuals which surround them.

Therefore, when it comes to pigeon feeding, it is essential to pay special attention to what they eat at each stage of their lives. Ideally, always count on the guidance of a specialized veterinarian when choosing the most appropriate diet for your pigeons. When making this decision, we recommend taking their age, health status and breed needs into account. Remember, their are over 150 breeds of officially recognized pigeons today.

For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss bird diseases humans can catch.

What do Pigeons Eat? - Pigeon And Dove diet - What does a pigeon eat?

What do wild pigeons eat?

What do pigeons eat in a city? Well throughout a pigeon’s evolutionary history and after its adaptation phase to urbanized areas, they have developed into omnivorous animals with the ability of digesting different types of foods. When in cities and their surroundings, pigeons maintain opportunistic habits when feeding, taking advantage of waste generated by human beings.

By observing what pigeons eat in urban settings, many people are immediately introduced to wild pigeon feeding. In their natural habitat, adult pigeons generally maintain a varied diet based mostly on the consumption of grains and seeds, such as oats, wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, lentils, rice, flax, carob, beans, sesame, millet , peas and sunflower. It is also worth noting that a pigeon’s diet varies slightly depending on the species, food availability and the time of the year.

As we’ve already mentioned, a pigeon’s diet will also vary according to the nutritional requirements of its organism during each stage of its life. Keep reading to find out what do baby pigeons eat.

For more, read about omnivorous animals here.

What do baby pigeon eat?

During a pigeon’s first stage of development, baby pigeon diet should have a higher percentage of proteins than with adults. This macronutrient is essential for the development of body tissue, as well as aiding in muscle strength and physical resistance. Protein deficiency in pigeons can impair the development of their physical and cognitive abilities, negatively impacting their health and learning.

In the wild, newborn pigeons feed (only) on the crop milk produced by their parents. This milk feeding lasts for the first three or four days of life. Crop milk in pigeons refers to a secretion produced by the epithelial cells present in the mouth of adult pigeons (of both sexes). This type of feeding method is also used by doves.

Although its composition and metabolism is not equal to that of mammal breast milk, crop milk is stimulated by the prolactin hormone and contains a high index of proteins, lipids and natural antioxidants. Because a newborn pigeon’s digestive system is still developing, this feeding method is essential in making sure that they receive necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

From their fourth or fifth day of life, baby pigeons begin to consume other foods, but they will also continue consuming crop milk until third week of life. The first foods that baby pigeons consume are pre-"crushed" and semi-digested by the enzymes present in the crop milk produced by their parents. Pigeon parents then regurgitate this ‘milk,’ depositing a kind of protein porridge with grains, seeds, worms and/or larvae directly into the mouth of their young.

Shortly after completing their first month of life, young pigeons will begin to consume a greater variety of solid foods. It’s important to note that to feed alone, they will first need to learn how to leave their nests and fly.

Pigeon farming: feeding baby pigeons

In the context of pigeon farming, the owner will be responsible for offering adequate nutrition to the chicks. It is possible to find baby pigeon porridge in several animal specific stores, or produce them through homemade recipes and natural methods, such as germination or heat treatments. In both cases, we still recommend that you consult a specialized veterinarian for the most appropriate guidance.

Ideally, however, baby pigeons should always be raised together with their parents and siblings. In addition, they should be fed their parent’s crop milk which contain all of the essential nutrients and enzymes necessary for their development. But if, for whatever reason, you’ve had to adopt a newborn pigeon, we recommend consulting a specialist.

What do Pigeons Eat? - Pigeon And Dove diet - What do baby pigeon eat?

What to feed a pigeon

So, now that we know what wild pigeons eat, what do domestic pigeons eat? You can find commercial pigeon feed in specific bird and pet stores. These products contain the balanced proportions of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that these birds need in adulthood. However, we also recommended incorporating fresh and natural foods, in addition to the feed, to complement the pigeon’s feeding.

Germinated seeds and grains, as well as beneficial vegetables and fruits, can be offered two or three times a week. You can also offer your adult pigeon a cooked egg or lactose-free and sugar-free yogurt once or twice a week to ensure a good supply of lean proteins. In addition, you can crush the clean shell of an egg and mix it in your bird's food once a week to reinforce its mineral intake.

Wheat germ oil is also an optimal natural supplement for pigeons, especially during molting seasons. However, it is essential that your administration be accompanied by veterinarian consultation.

What do Pigeons Eat? - Pigeon And Dove diet - What to feed a pigeon

What not to feed pigeons

Although pigeons enjoy receiving a balanced diet and have a large digestive capacity, there are also some foods that should not be part of a pigeon’s diet, as they can seriously harm a pigeon’s health. Therefore, as important as it is knowing what to feed a pigeon, you should also know what not to feed a pigeon:

  • Embedded, industrialized, fried or artificial flavored human food
  • Chocolate and chocolate drinks
  • Sugary and sugary drinks
  • Avocado, apple or pear seeds
  • Onion, garlic, leek
  • Salt, sugar and artificial sweeteners (or foods that contain them)
  • Coffee and caffeinated drinks
  • Human sweets in general (caramel, chewing gums, cookies, etc.)

What do pigeons drink?

You should only ever offer your pigeon water, especially after they eat.

Do pigeons eat bread?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to a pigeon’s diet. In reality, despite the myth and habit of humans feeding pigeons bread, bread has no nutritional benefit for pigeons.

What do doves eat?

Did you know that, other than the human enforced definition, both pigeons and doves come from the Columbidae family, and hold no difference when it comes to scientific appelation.

So, if you’re wondering, ‘‘What do doves eat?’’ Then you already have the answer. Doves, like pigeons, follow the same diet process.

If you want to read similar articles to What do Pigeons Eat? - Pigeon And Dove diet, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.

  • Díaz, M., Asensio, B. y Tellería, J. L. (1996). Aves Ibéricas. I. No Paseriformes. Madrid, España: J. M. Reyero Editor. p. 306. ISBN 84-921085-1-7.
  • Gillespie, M. J.; Stanley, D.; Chen, H.; Donald, J. A.; Nicholas, K. R.; Moore, R. J.; Crowley, T. M. (2012). Functional Similarities between Pigeon 'Milk' and Mammalian Milk: Induction of Immune Gene Expression and Modification of the Microbiota. En Salmon, Henri. PLoS ONE 7 (10): e48363. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048363.
  • Horseman, Nelson D., John D. Buntin. 1995. Regulation of Pigeon Cropmilk Secretion and Parental Behaviors by Prolactin. Revista Annual review of nutrition. ISSN 0199-9885. vol 15, pp. 213 -238. Editor Annual Reviews, Inc.
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What do Pigeons Eat? - Pigeon And Dove diet