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!

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Iñigo Navarro

June 27, 2021


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What’s This Post About?

Pigeons are common wild birds that consume various kinds of food. The pigeons, no matter where they live, have the same food intake. Their diet usually comprises insects, small lizards, seeds, fruits, etc.

This post aims to provide valuable information involving pigeons, what they eat, what they feed their young, and their lifestyle in general. Some common food sources and eating habits will also be covered alongside facts and pro-tips.

A baby pigeon’s diet comprises solely of milk. They are fed with crop milk which is produced by both the female and male adult pigeons. They feed on crop milk for a week and then switch to seeds, nuts, and fruits.

baby pigeon sleeping

What Food Sources Are Liked and Preferred by Pigeons?

Before diving into the details of the babies, let’s talk about what pigeons like to consume in general.

Pigeons roam around the city, eating whatever they find. They may indulge in leftover food or hunt insects such as ants or worms from the soil. Not just this, but pigeons also eat seeds, vegetables, fruits, and berries.

It is mentioned above how pigeons are spread across a wide range of areas. They were initially located in forests, coastal areas, cliffs, and even gardens. However, with time these birds have adapted to live in populated settlements like cities and towns.

While the pigeons live in different places, they have access to different types of food. Let’s discuss the difference between wild pigeons’ diets and those found in urban areas.

pigeon eating

Fun Fact

Pigeons have excellent hearing abilities. They can predict a storm or volcano from a vast distance through their hearing ability.

Wild Pigeons

Pigeons that do not live in busy cities and towns have a better and healthier diet than those that do. The main factors that contribute to this more nutritious diet are the atmosphere and the fresh resources available.

Wild pigeons commonly reside in coastal areas and forests; hence their diet consists of everything provided to them by nature. The food items that they consume the most are:

  • Seeds

  • Nuts

  • Vegetables

  • Berries

  • Plants

  • Grit

  • Grains

  • Vegetation

Wild pigeons are known to be herbivores, but they eat anything and everything if they are hungry for survival. By anything, it means insects such as small lizards and spiders.

wild pigeons

They also need to maintain the protein and fat levels in their diet through nuts and fruits.

Interesting Fact

Wild pigeons do not have a favorite, but they seem to enjoy nuts, vegetables, and seeds more than any other food item.

Pigeons In the Urban Areas

Pigeons living in urban areas have a different diet. Their lifestyle has been developed according to the busy cities and towns. Here, the pigeons mostly depend on whatever they can find, such as thrown out or leftover food. The list includes:

  • Pasta

  • Meat

  • Bread

  • Fish

  • Chocolates

  • Pizza

  • Sweets

Their digestive system has adapted to these kinds of food with time. In urban areas, pigeons are commonly seen hunting food from trash bins when they are very hungry. They try to consume and cover the necessary nutrition required by their body.

Interesting Fact

The procedure of pigeons hunting for food in trash bins can lead to their death, and the food can also be contaminated.

pigeon eating trash

What Do Baby Pigeons like to Eat?

Above, we talked about the diet of an adult pigeon, now let’s explore the baby pigeons and their lifestyle.

Baby Pigeons rely on crop milk. They receive the nutrients that are necessary for them through this crop milk. Once their digestive system starts to develop, they move towards food sources that adult pigeons consume, such as seeds, nuts, etc.

With babies, their diet must consist of proteins. Without high levels of proteins, the baby’s development might get disrupted. On the other hand, a diet rich in protein helps the baby develop in terms of muscles, tissues, and other physical aspects.

Both female and male pigeons produce the crop milk. If the baby pigeon does not receive the necessary nutrients from the crop milk, they may not survive.

pigeon chicks

Lack of nutrients also leads to an undeveloped digestive system, making it difficult for them to consume nutrient-rich items in the future.

Fun Fact

Young pigeons are known as squabs.

Baby Pigeon Diet and Their Development

Baby Pigeons Post One Week

As mentioned above, newborns depend on crop milk to survive, but their diet changes as they grow older than a week. After a week, baby pigeons can eat other food items along with the crop milk.

At this stage, the digestive system of the baby pigeons has partially developed, so much so that they can digest crushed adult food along with crop milk.

Interesting Fact

The crop milk aids the digestion of baby pigeons.

pigeon chick up close

Baby Pigeons Post One Month

Once the baby pigeons cross a month, they can let go of crop milk. It becomes safe for them to consume other food without the need for crop milk for digestion.

They then try to fulfill their nutrient requirement by looking for different nutrient-rich food sources.

To search for food independently, the baby pigeons first need to learn how to leave the nest and fly safely. Once they know how to fly smoothly, they start feeding on their own.

Interesting Fact

Interesting Fact

young-pigeon

How Do Adult Pigeons Feed Their Young?

Baby pigeons rely on crop milk, but what is the whole procedure of producing and feeding crop milk to the babies?

Adult pigeons feed their newborns crop milk. The crop milk is produced by both the parents and is found at the base of the adult pigeon’s neck. This milk is not actual milk, but it consists of milky substances that provide the nutrients required by the babies to grow.

Pigeons are commonly found in crowded areas. At the age of seven months, the female pigeon is mature and can start breeding. They produce babies and incubate them from around 18 to 21 days. When the eggs hatch, the parents start catering to the young.

pigeon feeding chick

Interesting Fact

Unlike most mammals, the father pigeon takes active participation in raising the young.

Production Of Crop Milk

Few days before the laid eggs have hatched, both the parents produce a secretion known as crop milk. This milk is not pure, but it consists of milk-like substances that provide the newborn with the required nutrients.

The crop through which the male and female pigeons can feed their babies is at the base of the adult’s neck. The crop stores and moistens the food before it is ready to be digested.

Two days before the eggs hatch, the crop gets filled with a milky liquid. As the babies start to feed, both the parents take turns pouring the crop milk into their mouths.

Interesting Fact

Crop milk has a minimal amount of calcium, whereas regular milk essentially comprises calcium.

growing pigeon

Nutritional Benefits of Crop Milk

Crop milk serves as a rich source of fat and protein for the birds. The crop milk helps with the development and growth of the baby pigeon. It consists of protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that are listed below with their percentage:

  • Fat (32-36%)

  • Carbohydrate (1-3 %)

  • Protein (60%)

  • Minerals – Calcium, Sodium, Phosphorous, Potassium (1-3%)

Additionally, crop milk also includes immune-building properties and powerful antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system of newborn babies.

Interesting Fact

Unlike other mammals, crop milk is poured by the parents in the bird’s mouth and not sucked on by the babies.

two pigeon chicks

Period Of Dependency

We have established how babies are dependent on their parents for the milk that they are fed. The real question is, till how long will they remain dependent?

Pigeon babies are fed for 14 days approximately. When they cross the 14th day, they can consume the same type of food as their parents. However, this does not mean that the baby pigeons are now independent.

Baby pigeons rely on their parents for food for another 10 days until they can leave the nest safely. This process requires the babies to be about 40 days of age till they can finally become independent.

parent pigeon with chicks

Fun Fact

Crop milk is produced due to hormonal changes.

What Are Food Sources Preferred or Liked by Pigeons?

Pigeons, like other birds, have likes and dislike when it comes to food.

Pigeons are granivorous birds. They like to eat grains, seeds, wheat, etc. They change food preferences according to seasons. In the winter season, pigeons prefer more oil-based seeds that will help them keep warm. While molting or breeding, they prefer mixed seeds to get all the essential nutrients.

A pigeon is a type of bird that will roam around searching for food and consume whatever they can find to eat.

They may feed on leftovers, but that does not mean it is healthy for them or what they like to eat. Therefore, it is highly recommended to feed pigeons with a mix of different seeds so that they extract the required nutrients from them.

Hagen Pigeon & Dove Seed, Nutritionally Complete Bird Food

Provides Balanced Dietary Nutrition To Wild Or Captive Pigeons And Doves

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A healthy diet for a pigeon consists of 50% of grains and 10% of oilseeds. An adult pigeon can eat up to 30 grams of food daily, while for baby pigeons, it is different. The food that pigeon babies require is already discussed.

The best kind of food for pigeons are:

  • Corn

  • Wheat

  • Cereals

  • Barley

  • Oats

  • Pulse

  • Peas

  • Vetch

  • Rye

You can place such items in your yard to attract pigeons from afar. If you want to learn about how long pigeons go on to live, read through this blog to learn more about their lifespan.

How Long do Pigeons Live? Averages & World Records!

Don’t remember the last time you didn’t hear a pigeon’s coo? Curious how there’s always a large flock of pigeons around? Is it because they live long?

What Food Should Pigeons Avoid?

Apart from contaminated food, certain food items need to be avoided.

flock of pigeons

Pigeons might eat anything and everything they find, but certain foods high in sugar need to be avoided.

Pigeons have a complex digestive system which makes it difficult for them to digest some food properly. Therefore, the food sources that pigeons should avoid are:

  • Apple: Apple seeds consist of cyanide that may irritate the pigeon’s gut.

  • Chocolate: Theobromine is a harmful compound for pigeons and is present in chocolates.

  • Avocados: Avocados consist of persin, which is toxic for pigeons.

  • Food with salt: Salty food items have sodium in them, which is hard for pigeons to digest.

  • Food/Drink with sugar: Items high in sugar can negatively impact the pigeon’s body and may also give them diabetes.

Did You Know?

The statement that pigeons should not be fed rice is a myth. Rice is safe to be consumed by pigeons.

What Are Some Other Birds That Feed Their Young Crop Milk?

Some birds have a similar lifestyle and may also feed their babies with crop milk.

Flamingos, Male Emperor Penguins, and Mourning Doves are a few birds that feed their newborns with a liquid secretion known as crop milk. They provide their young with crop milk as it is rich in fat and protein.

  1. Flamingos: Produce red-colored crop milk in its digestive tracts.

  2. Male Emperor Penguins: Male penguins produce crop milk in the lining of their crop.

  3. Mourning Doves: Similar production and feeding style like the pigeons.

three flamingos

mourning dove pair

Pro-Tip

You can attract mourning doves to your backyard with the same food that the pigeons like.

Keep Reading!

Pigeons are not mammals, but their lifestyle is very similar to them. For example, they feed their young with similar food types such as crop milk.

There are different types and species of pigeons, such as homing pigeons, rock pigeons, wood pigeons, and doves. However, all these birds share a similar diet as they all require the same amount of nutrients to develop and grow.

This post summarizes how and what baby pigeons are fed and the time required by their parents to nurture them.

You can attract pigeons in your backyard and provide them places where they can nest. However, killing or hunting pigeons is illegal. To know more, read the post about whether you can eat a pigeon or not.

Can you Eat Pigeons? Is it even Legal? Is it Safe?

If you're contemplating whether you could consume pigeon meat as a source of protein, the answer is yes! Keep reading to find out more.

Iñigo Navarro Picture

By Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo 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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Iñigo Navarro Picture

Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo 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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