Pigeons Sitting Down - Why Do They Do It?
[12 Funny Photos]

Have you ever seen a pigeon sitting down in odd positions and postures? Well, continue reading if you want to find out why they do that.

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David A. Swanson

June 27, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

We mostly see pigeons flying about, swarming the residential spaces, especially the areas of human habitation.

They’re comfortable around cities as their natural habitat because there’s a lack of predators in places where humans are, and there are abundant resources for them to choose from when looking for food.

Birds have made cities and human localities their homes for hundreds of years, and we still see them everywhere we go. Since there are quite a few resources in towns and residential areas, they breed rapidly, multiplying faster than any other bird species.

Pigeons usually sit during their nesting period to provide their eggs with warmth and protection. One other reason you might see a pigeon sitting is if they are severely ill, suffering from a pigeon disease, or nearing death. They could also be suffering from a disease that may have impacted their feet.

Pigeons sitting on elevated walls

Why Do Pigeons Sit?

Pigeons often sit throughout their nesting phase to offer warmth and shelter for their eggs. They are, on instances, seen sitting like humans, which happens when they are critically ill with a pigeon illness or on the verge of death.

We often see pigeons sitting on the ground with their mates, feeding on starchy treats and leftover food usually fed to them by us in parks or on city streets.

pigeons sitting

Sitting on the ground is only for a very brief time; since they like to be on elevated places more than dwindling on the ground, you can find them perched on concrete sites.

Pigeons avoid sitting on trees since several predators use dense trees as hiding spots to attack birds.

Pigeons are very intelligent, which explains why they do not prefer sitting on trees and opt for elevated concrete spaces, such as traffic signals, signboards, hollow cavities in buildings, etc.

a pigeon is sitting on the ground

We often see them squished together at signals and powerlines instead of spacing out and choosing spots with more space.

They do it intentionally because it makes them a difficult target for predators and gives them more lookout avenues, disallowing predators to sneak upon them.

Also, one very unfortunate reason they end up sitting like humans is when they contract several bird diseases, one of which is a viral disease found mainly in pigeons that force them to sit.

Although they look rather endearing seated like that, the reason why this happens is rather morbid.


Just by looking at a pigeon, you cannot tell if it's sick or not, which is why it is strongly advised not to approach ill pigeons at all!

Seeing a pigeon sitting on the ground should serve as a warning enough that the bird may have contracted a disease, and you must stay away from it.

If such a sitting pigeon is found in your backyard or near where you live, contact an animal rescue service immediately.

How To Help A Sick Pigeon?

a sick pigeon sitting

If you come across a pigeon in need of help, slowly try to approach the bird. Make it feel secure by picking it up, holding it against your body, and then try to cover its head to calm it down. You could even put the pigeon in a box to help them feel safe compared to other methods of curing it.

When you see a sick pigeon sitting down, try not to stress the bird out. You could always carry them in a hat, scarf, bag, or even pockets.

An enclosed space with lots of holes will ensure ventilation for the pigeon. All you have to do now is carry the pigeon to a nearby veterinary facility.

Another thing that you can do if you spot a sick sitting pigeon exhibiting odd behavior is to leave it alone. But if you do not have the heart to leave it like that, you can reach out to your local animal or bird rescuing service.

The relevant service provider will arrive at your location to rescue the bird and provide the appropriate treatment it requires.

a sick pigeon sitting on a curb

By looking out for the bird sitting with an illness, it will help put your heart at ease and stop the bird from spreading diseases and viruses, among other bird species that humans could contract.

What Not to Feed Pigeons?

You should not feed pigeons certain food items, which include apple seeds, garlic, onions, salted food, chocolates, avocados, caffeine, and bread crumbs.

pigeons feeding on the ground

There’s a long list of things you should avoid giving to pigeons, but navigating through the list could be a hassle.

This information will come in handy if you especially see a sick bird sitting, so while looking after it, this knowledge will help you know what food items to avoid.

We have saved you the trouble of going over different lists by compiling all the information you need to know what you should not feed pigeons.

Following are the items you should avoid giving to them:

  • Bread crumbs

  • Caffeine

  • avocados

  • Chocolate

  • Salted foods

  • Onions and Garlic

  • Apple seeds

  • One kind of grain or food

Bread or bread crumbs have proven to give no nutritional benefits to pigeons. If bread becomes a regular part of the pigeon’s diet, the bird might starve to death since the nutrition they need for survival would not be provided.

a pigeon flying with a bread crust around its neck


Caffeine-containing foods or products should not be fed to pigeons as they might prove toxic. This might further affect their health by increasing the chances of cardiac arrest. Other symptoms might include hyperactivity, arrhythmias, and elevated heart rate

Instead, what you can do is offer them fruit juice or plain water to help them quench their thirst.


While fruits and vegetables are usually very harmless for birds, avocados contain persin, which kills the fungus in plants. When pigeons consume avocados, they might experience respiratory issues, heart damage, weakness, and even death.


Chocolate is highly toxic for pigeons since it contains chemicals like theobromine, which can increase seizures, induce tremors and hyperactivity and elevate heart rate.

Salted Foods

While bird species can process salt in small quantities without much difficulty, large amounts of salt can prove to be dangerous. Avoid offering such salted items, including chips, meat, etc.

pigeons eating some bread

Garlic and Onions

Pigeons cannot consume onion or garlic. While other backyard birds may prefer to eat onions or garlic, it is a toxic food item for pigeons.

Onions contain complex sulfur compounds, which can irritate and damage the lining of a pigeon’s mouth down to its esophagus resulting in ulcers and other forms of internal ruptures of blood cells.

Apple Seeds

Although most fruits and fruit seeds are safe for pigeons to ingest in small amounts, particular fruit seeds, such as apple seeds, must be avoided at all costs since they may be toxic to pigeons.

One Kind of Grain or Food

a pigeon eating corn

You should be mindful of the food you’re giving to pigeons because often, one kind of food does not provide the right amount of nutrition and may make the bird sick in some cases.

What you can do is invest in a pigeon/dove grain mixture specifically tailored to meet the needs of pigeons. If you’re looking for the right pigeon seed mix, you can explore the Hagen pigeon & dove seed mix.

Hagen Pigeon & Dove Seed, Nutritionally Complete Bird Food

Provides Balanced Dietary Nutrition To Wild Or Captive Pigeons And Doves

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Feeding pigeons is a great way to get these birds to hang out in your backyard, ensuring that they are well-fed, especially if that’s what you want for them.

pigeon eating out of a person’s hand

But one thing that you should be mindful of is how and what you’re feeding them.

If you’re also interested in reading about baby pigeons and what they eat and what they should be fed with in case you happen to come across them, read this interesting post to know more.

What Do Baby Pigeons Eat? How To Take Care of a Baby Pigeon

Baby pigeons are endearing little creatures that survive on a variety of food sources. To learn more about these food sources, keep reading!

Do Pigeons Sit When They Sleep?

Pigeons sleep anywhere that is safe and convenient for them. Since they have poor night vision, they sleep during the night and are active during day time. However, you may often see pigeons sleeping during the day too.

Pigeons sleep on elevated shelf-like perches, especially during the night, because this keeps them out of predators’ reach. They usually look for cavities in homes and buildings to roost in, which helps them stay away from trouble.

Pigeons sleep in two ways. You will either see a pigeon sitting on a flat area sleeping, or you will see the pigeon on its feet, hiding its head in the feathers of its necks and wings.

However, you would be surprised to know that pigeons do not sleep in their nests at night.

a pigeon in broad daylight

You may often see pigeons taking short power naps and sleep breaks throughout the day. They do that when they get tired or want to rest their bodies for a brief moment.

When pigeons take these power naps, half of their brain is still functioning, and they sleep with their one eye open.

Fun Fact

Pigeons are unbelievably intelligent creatures. They are one of just a few species that have passed the 'mirror trial,' which is a test of self-recognition.

What Happens When Pigeons Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Since cities are developing progressively and the nightlife is on the rise, this severely impacts the sleeping pattern of birds, especially pigeons, since they only dwell around the urban residential areas populated by humans.

Did You Know?

Pigeons take frequent power naps throughout the day during which half of their brain remains alert. Interesting, isn't it?

However, pigeons have proven to be more resistant to sleep deprivation. They exhibit a recovery sleep pattern known as rebound sleep, during which they plunge into a deep sleep state and make up for the hours they missed sleeping.

While doing so, it is ubiquitous that you might see a pigeon sitting flat on a surface or be on its feet while sleeping.

pigeon sitting flat on surface

Keep Reading!

To sum it up, pigeons sit in two scenarios. First is when they contract a bird disease, one of which is a viral disease found mainly in pigeons that makes them sit like humans.

Although they look funny sitting like that, the reason why they do this is rather dreadful.

Second, there is some probability that you might come across a pigeon sitting when it’s sleeping. However, this is often rare as they might otherwise be sleeping while being on their feet instead of sitting on the ground.

Does reading about pigeons interest you? Read through this thought-provoking post to understand the fascinating reason messenger pigeons know where to go.

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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