What Do Pigeons Eat?

What Do Pigeons Eat? Everything you need to know about a Pigeons diet (Jan. 23)

Pigeons are wild birds that don’t typically eat a curated diet of just one thing. They often need to eat a number of different foods to survive. 

Pigeons aren’t often domesticated, but when they are, they do not require a specific diet. They can eat a range of seeds, small insects, and even lizards. 

Today we’re looking into the wondrous world of pigeons and their diets. 

Pigeon Meals – What Do They Eat? 

You’ll often see plenty of pigeons in city centers and urban environments, and they don’t seem to be picky.

They’ll often be pecking at crumbs on the floor, seeds, insects, or even in trash cans! Wild pigeons are not fussy eaters, and they’ll often eat whatever they lay their sights on. 

This could range from worms to berries, ants to seeds, and vegetables to leftover food.

Pigeons once lived primarily in coastal regions and forests, they have now become accustomed to urban cities and towns.

This means that they’ve had to adapt their diets to fit in with whatever they could find to survive. 

Wild Pigeons vs. Urban Pigeons

Wild Pigeons Diet

All pigeons are technically wild pigeons, but this name is reserved for those who have not swapped their natural habitat for cities.

Wild pigeons still reside in wooded areas, cliffed areas, and other secluded areas.

These pigeons tend to have a much healthier diet than urban pigeons. While still eating whatever they can find, their treasure is often full of berries and grains rather than human leftovers. 

Here’s a list of foods that wild pigeons commonly consume: 

  • Vegetables
  • Berries
  • Grains
  • Seeds
  • Plants
  • Nuts
  • Vegetation
  • Grit
  • Freshwater

Wild pigeons are natural herbivores, so they’ll most commonly be seen eating natural plants and vegetables.

However, they will stray from this diet when necessary, finding insects that they can easily prey on thanks to their size advantage. 

Pigeons really will eat anything when they’re hungry enough, and some have even tackled a lizard to eat it. 

Wild pigeons require both protein and fat within their diets to stay healthy, and this can come from nuts, berries, or other animals.

Their survival instincts will kick in when they’re not getting enough of a macronutrient and they’ll fly off to find it. 

What Do Pigeons Eat?

Urban Pigeons Diet

Many pigeons have successfully adapted to urban living, residing in cities and towns much closer to humans. They are able to coexist with humans in heavily populated areas and will nest here to create a family. 

With that being said, their diets haven’t remained as healthy during this change. Urban pigeons eat whatever they can find, much like wild pigeons, but what they find is often much less nutritious. 

They’ll often hang around trash cans to see what humans throw away or drop, and this often includes: 

  • Cakes
  • Bread
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Fries
  • Candy

It makes sense, as how many people do you see walking around eating a bag of seeds?!

Most animals cannot eat human food and survive off of it, which is one of the reasons why urban pigeons are so surprising.

They’re able to survive off predominantly human food thanks to decades of adapting and evolving. 

It’s impressive, really! 

You’ll often see pigeons scavenging through trash when they’re desperate for something to eat. This often doesn’t end well for them, since the food is most likely contaminated.

It can transmit diseases to them which can be fatal in worst-case scenarios. 

 Still, urban pigeons will seek a naturally healthy diet whenever they can, much like wild pigeons.

They prefer berries, nuts, and grains, but will settle for human food when absolutely necessary. 

Baby Pigeon Diets

Baby pigeons shouldn’t eat urban food whenever it can be helped, simply because they need plenty of protein rather than sugar and carbs.

This protein helps them with their early development so that they can grow big and strong. 

Adult pigeons don’t require as much protein as babies do, but young pigeons are heavily reliant on the correct macronutrients to develop their muscles and tissues.

If they don’t get enough protein, they could suffer the consequences of being protein deficient. 

Luckily, pigeons don’t have to go scavenging for protein. The majority of a baby pigeon’s diet will be made up of milk products from their parents.

This is called crop milk and it is secreted from both male and female pigeons. 

Baby pigeons are fed this for no longer than a week before they can be introduced to solids. However, if a baby pigeon does not receive this crop milk, their chances of survival are slim.

This is because their digestive system won’t have been able to mature enough to handle adult pigeon foods. 

Is There Anything A Pigeon Can’t Eat?

We’ve talked about how food from the trash can be contaminated and therefore fatal to pigeons but are there any other foods that they should avoid? Yes, and here’s a list of them:

  • Foods high in sugar – too much sugar can give pigeons diabetes. 
  • Chocolate – this contains theobromine, which is harmful to pigeons. 
  • Apple seeds – apples are fine to feed pigeons, but the seeds contain cyanide which can irritate their internal systems. 
  • Foods high in salt – salt contains sodium, which is a difficult compound to digest for pigeons. 
  • Avocados – these contain persin which is toxic to pigeons. 

While pigeons can eat a great variety of things, their complex digestive system sometimes prevents things from being digested properly, such as the foods listed above. 

You won’t be able to stop a pigeon from eating these things if you see it happening, but make sure that you’re not the one to be offering these foods to wild or urban pigeons. 

Summary

Thanks for reading! Pigeons will eat anything, but their preferences are berries, seeds, and vegetation. 

Wild pigeons are natural herbivores so you’ll see them eating plant matter mostly. However, they will stray from this when necessary and eat bugs and lizards for added protein. 

Urban pigeons will also eat anything and have an unhealthy diet compared to wild pigeons.

FAQ

What do pigeons eat?

Pigeons are omnivorous birds that eat a wide variety of foods including seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, insects, worms and small invertebrates. They also eat food scraps, bread and other human-made food sources, but it is not recommended as it is not a natural diet for pigeons and can lead to health issues.

What food attracts pigeons the most?

Pigeons are most attracted to foods high in carbohydrates and protein such as grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables, bread crumbs, insects and worms.

Do pigeons eat bread?

Pigeons do eat bread, but it is not a natural or balanced diet for them and can lead to health issues if fed to them in large quantities. It is recommended to feed them with a variety of food sources such as seeds, fruits and vegetables.

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