can pigeons see at night

Can Pigeons See at Night? Know the Facts

Animals and humans see things differently, and naturally, pigeons have different views of our world. Pigeons are amazing birds that can be kept as pets or just observed because of their unique qualities. As someone interested in pigeons, there are lots of exceptional characteristics that you can learn about these fantastic creatures. So, can pigeons see at night?

The short answer is yes, pigeons can see at night in a limited fashion depending on the brightness of the moon and other ambient lights. They have better eyesight at night than humans do.

Pigeons can generally see better than humans. Their eyes are located to the sides of their heads, and this means that they can see to their sides and in front of them. Keep on reading to learn more about pigeon’s eyesight.

Can Pigeons See at Night?

Birds in a botanical garden

Pigeons rarely move or fly at night. They are daytime birds, and their vision functions better during the day. They can see at night, but they don’t see it very well.

While they’re not entirely blind at night, they aren’t nocturnal birds. These birds are super sensitive to light and will see their way very well if they have to fly at night, depending on the intensity of the moon’s light and city lights. Pigeons won’t be able to see objects clearly at night and will only fly at night when it’s unavoidable.

Although pigeons see better than humans, they don’t see very well at night. Nevertheless, their sensitive eyes can detect the slightest changes in the environment, so they can detect danger and potential predators. Pigeons’ vision is designed to help them survive in the wild.

Thanks to their wide vision field, pigeons can see things around them 135 degrees vertically and 340 degrees horizontally. Humans only have a field of vision of 135 degrees vertically and 180 degrees horizontally. This allows pigeons to keep an eye on their surroundings and can see predators as they’re trying to attack.

Author Note: Compared to pigeons, humans can’t see well to their sides. Even when objects are further away, pigeons can tell them apart and tell the difference between shades. This will allow them to find their way even in low light conditions.

Photo by pixabay

Can Pigeons See Different Colors?

Humans have trichromatic colors, and this means that they can identify three channels of colors. Pigeons, on the other hand, are pentachromatic. This means that they’re able to identify five independent channels of color.

Pigeons can see ultraviolet lights that humans aren’t able to detect. Their sensitive eyes enable them to identify color shades that humans can’t naturally see.

This is why clothes that reflect ultraviolet rays are exceptionally annoying to pigeons. They scare them away and startle them. However, just like humans, infrared lights are invisible to pigeons.

The pigeons’ sensitive eyes make them able to detect the slightest changes in their environment. This will enable them to detect any change in their habitat or a predator that is trying to hide among the branches.

Pigeons as Pets

Young pigeon on a wooden ledge, inside an old wooden shack

Can pigeons recognize human faces?

Yes, these amazing birds have the ability to recognize faces even from a distance. If you have been feeding pigeons for a while, you will see that they will start to gather whenever you’re getting close to their favorite spot.

Pigeons are able to identify their owners and the people who take care of them. If you have been keeping a pigeon since it has hatched out of the egg, it will be able to recognize your face even from a picture.

Because they have the ability to tell people apart, pigeons are more capable of defending themselves and differentiating friends from enemies. If someone tried to hurt a pigeon, it will remember its face and will avoid it upon the next encounter.

Can Pigeons Recognize Themselves?

Very few animals possess self-awareness when they look at themselves in a mirror. This is called the Mirror Test and is a scientifically conducted test that assesses the intelligence of animals and birds.

Pigeons are able to recognize themselves in the mirror, and this means that they won’t get startled when they see themselves. They won’t start to attack or freak out when they see themselves moving in front of a reflective object.

These birds are rather curious and will probably be interested in watching themselves in the mirror. They’re also interested in seeing other animals and birds, but you need to make sure that they’re safe before they get in touch with other animals.

Photo by digital-buggu

How to Protect Your Pigeon From Other Animals?

Dogs and cats can get too enthusiastic around your pigeon. A pigeon would be curious to explore and interact with these animals, especially if you have raised it as a pet at home. However, your cat or dog might view your bird as a meal.

An excellent way to make your pet cat or any wild cat avoid your pigeon is to throw water around the place where your pigeons live. Cats hate water and will always avoid any wet spot. You can always build a scarecrow to scare your cats, and they will take a while before they realize that it’s fake.

You can also use devices that produce ultrasonic frequencies. These frequencies are quite annoying to cats, so they will avoid them anywhere they’re installed. Pigeons are able to hear these low frequencies, but they won’t get upset by them.

A dog can be trained to live in harmony with your pigeons. Dogs are easier to train than cats, and your dog might even be used to protect the pigeons.

Author Note: If you feel that the dog is too aggressive, you can keep the dog on a leash until it’s trained to live comfortably with the pigeon. Later on, you can let the dog loose under supervision, but only if you’re sure that it won’t attack your bird.

Natural Predators

Outside the house, eagles and hawks are likely to attack your pigeon, especially if you’re keeping it in an aviary in your garden or backyard. An excellent way to protect your pigeon from these predators is to use shiny duct tape.

Like most birds, hawks and eagles hate shiny objects, and you can use this information to keep them away from your pet birds. All you have to do is to cut pieces of shiny duct tape and use it on the ends of the wing feathers. These small pieces won’t stop your pigeon from flying, but they will be able to avoid these predator birds.

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Can Pigeons Watch TV?

If you’re keeping a pigeon as a pet, it might enjoy watching TV with you. TV shows create lots of interesting images and sounds that pigeons are naturally sensitive to. As a result, they will be intrigued and interested in watching what is playing on the screen.

Pigeons will be interested in watching cartoons, funny shows, and documentaries about animals. However, you need to make sure that you’re not showing anything too aggressive on the screen. Scenes of people killing each other or of big animals preying on smaller animals can traumatize your bird.

Rescue Pigeons

Close up Rock Pigeons Flying in The Air Isolated on Black Background

For hundreds and even thousands of years, homing pigeons were used to send messages across countries and even continents. The smart birds were let loose while carrying an important message, so they would return back to their home.

During World War 1 and World War 2, pigeons were the safest option to carry valuable information between troops. Some pigeons were even awarded medals as war heroes because they helped save thousands of lives. They were even able to carry vials to and from hospitals to help the injured.

Author Note: However, in the 1970s and 1980s, pigeons were also used in rescue missions. The US Coast Guard started project Sea Hunt that depended on the use of pigeons to spot people who were lost at sea.

Pigeons were able to detect corpses in the water, as well as injured people in conditions that were more challenging for human rescuers. Because of their strong eyesight and their ability to differentiate different colors, pigeons are able to see at a longer distance than humans, and they could save people’s lives.

The pigeons were put in a glass box that was carried by helicopter and would be able to identify projects floating in the water. They would then flip a switch to alert the pilots that there were able to locate life jackets in the sea. Pilots and rescue troops would then be dropped into the exact spot to save whoever was in the water.

Nevertheless, before they could save anyone’s life, this project was dropped. New technologies were implemented to help the troops save more lives more efficiently. Still, the contribution of pigeons is not to be ignored.

Wrap Up

Pigeons can see at night, but they can’t see very well. These amazing birds have very sensitive eyes and can see different shades of colors. They can also see ultraviolet rays.

Pigeons have exceptional eyes that allow them to see to the sides and to the front. They can detect any changes in their environment and can see predators moving around them, and these abilities enable them to survive in the wild.

Unlike other animals, these birds can recognize themselves in the mirror. They won’t get startled and are exceptionally curious about other animals and birds. In case you’re bored, you might even get your pigeon to watch TV with you.

Fly high friends!


What does a pigeons vision look like?

A particularly interesting feature of bird vision is that the image before them slightly overlaps so they can see right in front of themselves.

Are pigeons intelligent?

While pigeons in urban environments are often viewed as pests and a bit stupid, they are actually very intelligent. They can recognize themselves in the mirror and specific objects and symbols.

Can pigeons see far away?

As pigeons are not hunters, their eyesight is developed for defense instead. They can see sharply close to themselves.

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