How Far Can Pigeons Fly?
It's Almost Unbelievable!

Amongst many things that these brainy birds are capable of, flying far further is one of them. You would be amazed to learn about their flying abilities.

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David A. Swanson

June 27, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Pigeons are gentle, small, and chubby, with a hint of metallic-colored plumage around their neck. They are sturdy fliers because of their powerful muscles and long sharp wings.

Not only that, they’re brilliant and complex in nature, which makes them a difficult subject for scientists to study.

Pigeon’s one outstanding characteristic is that they can fly at great altitudes and are known for their immaculate sense of navigation and direction.

Strong steering abilities not only help them escape potential dangers at a swift speed but also helps them stay close to their pigeon families and relatives.

Pigeons can fly and cover a distance between 600 and 700 miles in a single day. They cover this distance by flying at an average speed of 77.6 mph, and there are records of these birds flying at 92.5 mph.

flying pigeon

How Do Pigeons Cover Long Distances?

A pigeon will fly for extended periods without eating or even drinking water if required. Most bird species require a continual water source, but it’s relatively easier for pigeons to cover long distances, and they seldom get lost during the process.

Pigeons can cover a great distance in a concise amount of time, but feral city pigeons usually do not leave the places they inhabit, primarily if it provides them with food, shelter, and safety.

That’s just how they are. Pigeons don’t move around if they don’t have a good reason to do so. Fledglings may fly a few kilometers since they are young and everything is new to them, but they return to their resting site once they are done exploring.

pigeon flying close to the ground

Fun Fact

Pigeons are known for their incredible navigation abilities. They can tell with ease where their resting site and nests are, which they revisit when they want.

If their access to food and water sources changes dramatically, they will quickly migrate to another spot, nearby or far-off, with better provision of necessities. A few will always remain close to home to maintain a sustainable population.

Do Pigeons Rest or Sleep In Between Their Journeys?

Pigeons, just like every other bird, rest and sleep in between their journeys. They even take brief water breaks and power naps during the daytime if needed.

a pigeon sleeping

Pigeons usually do not prefer looking for a resting spot, and they can sleep anywhere as long as it’s safe and something close to a raised shelf-like platform that keeps them out of reach of predators.

Pigeons will sleep wherever it is safe and convenient for them. But there aren’t many options when they’re in the middle of their journey. They typically seek crevices in residential buildings to rest in, which keeps them out of danger.

Fun Fact

To make up for lost sleep, pigeons often take power naps and can recover from sleep loss without actually having to spend more time sleeping.

Pigeons avoid flying at night because they have poor night vision and prefer to sleep during these hours. They frequently take brief naps during the day to compensate for the sleep they lost due to nighttime disturbances.

Pigeons have been observed taking brief power naps and sleep breaks throughout the day or even between their flights. They do this when they are fatigued or wish to rest their little bodies for a moment.

When pigeons take these power naps, half of their brain remains active, which is why it is fair to say that they sleep with one eye open.

Only half of their brain shuts down when they sleep, while the other half remains alert. If you notice a pigeon that isn’t moving and has its head snuggled into its neck, it’s most likely taking a nap and is much more alert than you can imagine.

Are you intrigued by birds’ sleeping patterns in general? If so, read this exciting post to learn more about the sleeping pattern of other birds, including pigeons.

When Do Birds Go To Sleep? When Do They Wake Up?

Do you ever wonder if the birds also sleep at night as you do? If so, how can you sometimes hear them at night? Have they already woken up?

How Far Can a Pigeon Fly?

a pigeon is taking flight

Pigeons can cover a vast distance in a short amount of time. Their average flying speed is 60 miles per hour and, in rare instances, can go up to 100 miles per hour.

The longest recorded flight made by a pigeon was 7,200 miles covered in 24 days by a pigeon taken far away from its home and then released. When it was released, the bird flew straight to its home.

Pigeons are known for their incredible navigation skills. Trainers often teach them how to become race birds. There’s a phenomenon called pigeon race which involves pigeons flying thousands of kilometers.

On race day, pigeon fanciers release their pigeons thousands of kilometers away from their lofts. The first and the fastest to reach its loft wins the race.

Fun Fact

World's most expensive pigeon, which is a Belgian racing bird, was sold for $1.9 Million.

One interesting thing that these birds do when covering greater distances is that they fly in circles. They do this for navigation purposes which helps them head in the right direction and helps them locate their homes.

a pigeon flying

Another explanation to describe this behavior is that they fly in circles over their home area to identify the landmarks, which helps them better, especially when looking for their lofts.

City locals often sight pigeons flying in a flock which genuinely is a sight to behold, especially if you’re an avid bird watcher.

For a better and closer look at the flock in the air, you could explore Celestron Binoculars. This will help you to watch and learn more about the unorthodox flying patterns of pigeons.

Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars

Perfect binoculars for every adventure: A great match for everyone from beginners to mid-range outdoors and birding enthusiasts.

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Fun Fact

By flapping their wings, pigeons can warn others in their flock of potential danger or threat in the area.

Why Do Pigeons Fly in Circles?

a flock of pigeons flying

Flying in circles occurs because pigeons like to stick together and escape potential threats and dangers in the area. Pigeons are often spotted flying in circles along with their flock over cities and towns. City locals often observe this phenomenon happening quite frequently.

Since pigeons often get preyed upon, they fly in circles to conduct an aerial view of their surroundings.

When one of them gets spooked by someone or something, it responds with fear, which the others birds notice and react to, causing them all to flee and often fly in circles.

a flock of pigeons taking off

Fun Fact

Pigeons are capable of detecting Earth's magnetic fields. This adds to their incredible navigation skills as they rely on the magnetic particles found in their beak!

Another reason why pigeons fly in circles is because they want to figure out where they are and get themselves back on track by orienting themselves.

Since pigeons can detect magnetic pulses from the Earth’s magnetic fields, flying around in circles allows them to use these pulses to gather themselves and find their way home.


Wild pigeons sometimes carry a wide range of infectious and difficult-to-diagnose diseases, so keep an eye out for sick-looking pigeons in your backyard.

Keep Reading!

Pigeons can fly long distances, and they have been known to do so for hundreds of years. Before, when there was no form of communication, pigeons were used to send messages across long distances.

These birds can fly approximately 600 to 700 miles in a day at an average flying speed of 77.6mph. However, how far these birds choose to fly depends upon their reason to fly.

For those pigeons who have inhabited across cities and towns, they might not fly great distances regularly.

If you want to further read up on pigeons and their roles as a messenger bird, here’s a post that you should not miss reading out on.

The Fascinating Reason Messenger Pigeons Know Where to Go

Amazed at how a messenger pigeon knows exactly where to go? They have fascinating navigation abilities that you should know about!

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By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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